8 rules for Japanese chopstick etiquette

26th January 2016

Emily Robertshaw


Using correct manners and proper etiquette is very important in Japan. When visiting you should be familiar with taking your shoes off to enter someone’s house or greeting others in the correct manner. One of the main ways to show politeness is being able to use chopsticks correctly.


How to use chopsticks

1) Do not rub your chopsticks together

Rubbing your chopsticks together is seen as an insult in Japan. If you rub your chopsticks together it implies you’re trying to get rid of splinters because they’re cheap.


2) Do not stick chopsticks into your food

If you stick your chopsticks upright in your food in any establishment, it is seen as a lack of respect because it’s traditionally done at funerals.


3) Do not pass food to another pair of chopsticks

It can be seen as rude to pass food from your chopsticks to someone else’s. Put the food down on a plate or bowl so the other person can pick it up.


4) Do not use one chopstick

Don’t stab your food with one chopstick. Two chopsticks should be used at all times.


5) Do not leave your chopsticks crossed on your bowl or the table

If you need to put your chopsticks down place them neatly side by side next to your plate or bowl.


6) Do not point with your chopsticks

Pointing with your chopsticks is considered very rude, much like pointing at someone with your finger in the UK.


7) Do not take food from a sharing place using the chopsticks you’ve eaten with

If you can, find another pair of chopsticks to take food from a sharing plate. If not, use the clean, fat end of your chopsticks.


8) Do not wave your chopsticks over dishes

It is also considered impolite to hover your chopsticks in the air indecisively above all of the dishes in front of you.


Find out more about our Japanese translation and interpreting services here. Or if you’re travelling abroad for business, why not take a look at our International Business Etiquette parts one and two before you go?

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