Top 10 Habits You Must Avoid When Using Chopsticks

While we were children, we were typically taught how to properly eat in the dining table and practice good manners. You may find yourself breaking the rules of the dining table from time to time, but in Japan where proper etiquette is especially emphasized, it is recommended to be conscious of how you behave, especially in a country where social norms are different. Here are the top 10 habits or practices you should consider avoiding while using chopsticks.
The Top Ten
1 Pointing at someone or something

This is something that you should be more aware of, as we tend to point at things while conversing with someone. Pointing at a food or a person with your chopsticks is considered very rude. In fact, pointing at objects or people is considered rude in Japan. Instead, it is advised that you should wave at the object you are trying to point at.

2 Sticking your chopsticks straight up

You might have done this subconsciously - either with a fork, knife, or other utensil, but putting your chopsticks sticking up from a bowl of rice is not only considered bad etiquette, but bad luck as well - as it may evoke feelings of death. This is called tate-bashi. People usually provide a bowl of rice with their chopsticks up to Japanese funerals.

3 Crossing your chopsticks together

You may not be aware of how you hold or place your chopsticks, but forming an "x" shape with your chopsticks can evoke signs of death among people, as well as bad luck. If you plan to go to Japan and happen to have a peculiar form of holding chopsticks, such as holding them in an "x" shape, it's strongly advised to adopt a different yet more acceptable way of holding chopsticks while eating.

4 Passing food via chopsticks

You may have also done this in your first times using chopsticks. However, this is considered impolite. This manner is also rooted from Japanese funerals, as the bones of the dead person are passed using chopsticks. Therefore it may evoke feelings of death. When considering to hand small portions of food to another person, it is best to do so with a plate.

5 Hovering the chopsticks over food

Some people tend to have this habit when they are picky of choosing food. However this is considered bad manners. The same applies to touching the food with your chopsticks and not eating it. If you are a picky eater and want to try a variety of food, it is better to take a small portion rather than hovering your chopsticks as a sign of being indecisive on what to pick on.

6 Rubbing the chopsticks together

This practice is more tempting if the chopsticks are of bad quality (e.g splinters of wood showing in chopsticks), but if the chopsticks are in good condition, rubbing the chopsticks together is considered bad manners as it can suggest that the chopsticks are "cheap". If you see splinters coming out of your chopsticks, then it's best to remove them using your hand.

7 Poking food

This is called sashi-bashi. You may have done this as a child, but you may somehow find yourself poking your food subconsciously usually with a fork. If you tend to have difficulties picking up slippery food using chopsticks, you may be also tempted to pierce the food through in order to make it easier to pick up. In Japan this is considered rude, especially when it's done with one chopstick. Using a fork is more appropriate if you want to pick up slippery food with ease.

8 Pulling dishes or other objects

This is called yose-bashi. Sure you might be lazy and be tempted to drag objects closer with your chopsticks, but this is not only considered rude, but it's a clumsy way of bringing objects - especially soup, as you will risk spilling the soup and making a huge mess.

Honestly that doesn't sound easier anyway it would be hard to pull an object of a significant size.

9 Hitting objects with chopsticks

We all learned not to do this by common sense, hence this is universally considered bad and childish manners, but even more in Japan. Children typically do this, but some believe that it will summon a spirit if it's done continuously. If you plan to arrive in Japan with children, make sure you teach them not to do this manner.

10 Licking chopsticks

This habit is not a "must" avoid but it shows immaturity to other people.

The Contenders
11 Leaving chopsticks over the bowl when you're not done

It shows disrespect to the person who made your food. Placing chopsticks on top of the bowl shows that you're done with your meal, so if you are still eating but want to take a short break, it's best to put it in a chopstick holder

12 Chatting while holding your chopsticks

Reason is because you might subconsciously point at someone or something with your chopsticks, which is considered rude in the country.

13 Biting chopsticks

This is also the same manner that children typically do. Not only that it is considered bad etiquette, but it also deteriorates the material made with the chopstick. If you're a clumsy eater you may have accidentally left a bite mark in the chopstick, but it is best to avoid doing so.

14 Holding your chopsticks in the way of other people's chopsticks
15 Putting food back once it's picked up
16 Shoveling food with chopsticks
17 Not cleaning your chopsticks
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