Chopstick bad manners in oneself and others

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I think foreign residents in Japan actually seem on average to be better users of chopsticks than the Japanese, although I have absolutely no data to back up that claim, nor a similar claim that most foreigners’ chopstick skills outdo Japanese’s cutlery skills. However, there are a multitude of finer points of etiquette regarding these implements that may not be familiar to many of my readers, nor to me for that matter, so to see what faux pas our hosts may be looking out for, or indeed doing themselves, let’s look at a couple of surveys from goo Ranking on bad chopstick habits people have and bad manners in others that they can’t help noticing. Both surveys were conducted between the 20th and 24th of July 2007.

For me, in Q1 I do 1 rarely, 2 a bit with soba, and 5 sometimes. One manner not noted is rubbing the ends of your sticks together to get rid of splinters, which is apparently an insult to the restaurant or host that you think their chopsticks are cheap and splinter-prone.

Ranking results

Q1: Which chopstick bad manners can you just not break?

Rank 日本語 Explanation Score
1 渡し箸 watashi bashi: Resting chopsticks sideways across the top of dishes 100
2 探り箸 saguri bashi: Stirring soup trying to find that last chunk of tofu, etc 83.1
3 突き箸・刺し箸 tsuki bashi, sashi bashi: Spearing food then eating it 79.1
4 直箸 choku bashi: Not using the serving chopsticks, but your own sticks to get food from shared plates 71.2
5 もぎ箸 mogi bashi: Sucking off grains of rice, etc, stuck to the chopsticks 65.4
6 重ね箸 kasane bashi: Eating just one dish continuously 61.9
7 持ち箸 mochi bashi: Grabbing a dish, glass, etc whilst holding chopsticks in the same hand 61.6
8 迷い箸 mayoi bashi: Hovering chopsticks over the dishes while humming and hawing about what to eat 54.4
9 受け箸 uke bashi: Holding chopsticks when asking for more rice 44.8
10 掻き箸 kaki bashi: Holding a bowl to your mouth and shovelling food in 43.0
11 舐り箸 neburi bashi: Licking your chopsticks 27.6
12 撥ね箸 hane bashi: Pushing away disliked food with chopsticks 23.8
13 寄せ箸 yose bashi: Pulling dishes closer with chopsticks 23.5
14 洗い箸 arai bashi: Washing chopsticks in soup 16.3
15 指し箸 sashi bashi: Pointing at people or things with chopsticks 15.7
16 すかし箸 sukashi bashi: Rather than turning over a fish, picking away the meat from under the bones 14.8
17 揃え箸 soroe bashi: Suddenly lunging at dishes with chopsticks ready 13.1
18 空箸 kara bashi: Picking up food but not eating it 8.7
19 移り箸・渡り箸 utsuri bashi, watari bashi: Aiming to pick up one dish, but then suddenly switching to another 8.7
20 涙箸 namida bashi: Allowing tears of soup to drip from your chopsticks 7.8

Q2: Which chopstick bad manners in others can you just not help noting?

Rank 日本語 Explanation Score
1 仏箸 hotoke bashi: The gaijin etiquette book favourite, standing your chopsticks up in a bowl of rice 100
2 指し箸 sashi bashi: Pointing at people or things with chopsticks 91.9
3 叩き箸 tataki bashi: Making a noise by striking dishes with chopsticks 90.1
4 寄せ箸 yose bashi: Pulling dishes closer with chopsticks 84.8
5 舐り箸 neburi bashi: Licking your chopsticks 73.4
6 合わせ箸 awase bashi: Passing food from chopstick to chopstick – another foreigner etiquette book favourite 71.0
7 噛み箸 kami bashi: Chewing chopsticks 68.2
8 涙箸 namida bashi: Allowing tears of soup to drip from your chopsticks 67.4
9 突き箸・刺し箸 tsuki bashi, sashi bashi: Spearing food then eating it 62.6
10 せせり箸 seseri bashi: Poking or playing with your food using chopsticks 62.1
11 迷い箸 mayoi bashi: Hovering chopsticks over the dishes while humming and hawing about what to eat 56.1
12 移り箸・渡り箸 utsuri bashi, watari bashi: Aiming to pick up one dish, but then suddenly switching to another 49.9
13 空箸 kara bashi: Picking up food but not eating it 49.5
14 違い箸 chigai bashi: Using a mis-matched pair of chopsticks 48.0
15 洗い箸 arai bashi: Washing chopsticks in soup 46.2
16 撥ね箸 hane bashi: Pushing away disliked food with chopsticks 36.0
17 揃え箸 soroe bashi: Suddenly lunging at dishes with chopsticks ready 35.0
18 掻き箸 kaki bashi: Holding a bowl to your mouth and shovelling food in 33.1
19 持ち箸 mochi bashi: Grabbing a dish, glass, etc whilst holding chopsticks in the same hand 29.8
20 込み箸 komi bashi: Stuffing too much food into your mouth 28.0
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5 comments »

  1. Jesse said,
    March 20, 2009 @ 07:07

    Q1 #16 is not surprising among westerners, since in western culture it is considered bad luck to turn a fish over after eating down to the bones on one side (this comes from seafaring culture, where the superstition is that doing so will cause a catastrophe to befall one’s vessel).

  2. Siberia said,
    September 20, 2009 @ 19:39

    I have Chinese friends and I had to try to learn using chopsticks but it was totally disaster. If I didn’t have possibility to use fork I would probably die after few days:(

  3. kalejia said,
    October 2, 2009 @ 06:11

    thanx
    example take a look at Bad Chopstick manners and Behaviors :!

  4. George said,
    October 30, 2009 @ 08:16

    In 1974 I tried an inspired diet, anything I wanted to eat, I had to eat with Chopsticks, I lost 10 pounds the first month, 7 the next, 4 the next, after that I started gaining. I became impressive at food manipulation without spearing, But when I picked up a bowl of soft serve green tea ice cream, at my favorite chinese restraunt, and did not make a mess, oriental jaws dropped, when I picked up a baby shrimp and nipped off the end without dropping it, the restraunt staff presented me with a nice pair of travelers chopsticks and I always get setted in the window seat, I’m great for business. Plus proper manners and a polite smile, with determination, and a hell of a lot of practice (Done in private at home) you can gain infinite respect, even if you are gajin. Though I do confess once at a Japanese banquet I was served a very Japanese delicacy, A live one and a half pound lobster that had bee opened, stunned, supposedly and placed before me on a platter with sauses and seaweed and you guessed it the dish tried to run without the spoon, I whacked it on the head with an empty sake bottle and picked him/her up with my hand and grabbed hasi and dug in bringing great honor to my hosts, and spent the later part of the night barfing my toenails out. Personally I take all my Japanese friends to Taco Bell or KFC, one honor deserves another.

  5. GarnishzLife said,
    March 10, 2010 @ 15:26

    Great survey on chopstick use, I would add some others as noted in the Kindle Book, All About Dining Out, in the chopstick pointer section and the “be sushi savvy in six minutes” section. It is not as much bad form to leave your sticks parallel on top of your bowl as the chance they will roll off of your bowl onto the floor which is considered by some to be “bad luck”. At the least, you have to get replacements!

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9 Trackbacks \ Pings »

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