As many of you know the Japanese use chopsticks (箸) normally while eating food. Knives and forks are used for Western food only. Spoons however, may be used with certain Japanese dishes such as donburi or Japanese style curry rice. The proper usage of chopsticks is the most fundamental element of Japanese table manners. Some of the most important rules to remember while dining with chopstick are as followed:
- Hold the chopsticks (箸) towards the end, not in the middle or the front.
- When you are not using your chopstick (箸) or have finished eating you lay the chopstick down in front of you the tips to the left.
- Do not stick your chopsticks (箸) into your food. This is especially important with rice because it is only done at funerals with the rice that is placed upon the altar for the ancestors.
- Do not pass food directly from your set of chopsticks (箸) to another. Again this is only done at funerals.
- Do not spear food with your chopsticks. (箸)
- Do not point with your chopsticks. (箸)
- Do not wave your chopsticks (箸) around in the air or play with them.
- Do not move plates or bowls around with your chopsticks. (箸)
- To separate a piece of food in two, exert controlled pressure on the chopsticks (箸) while moving them apart from each other in order to tear the food. This takes some practice. With larger pieces of food such as tempura, it is also acceptable to pick up the entire piece with your chopsticks (箸), and take a bite.
- If you have already eaten with your chopsticks (箸), use the opposite end to take food from a shared plate.
Just remember these simple guidelines while dining with chopsticks (箸) and you should be fine. I suggest practicing at home not only using chopsticks (箸) but also using the guidelines I have given you.
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