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ExplanationScore
1渡し箸watashi bashi: Resting chopsticks sideways across the top of dishes100
2探り箸saguri bashi: Stirring soup trying to find that last chunk of tofu, etc83.1
3突き箸・刺し箸tsuki bashi, sashi bashi: Spearing food then eating it79.1
4直箸choku bashi: Not using the serving chopsticks, but your own sticks to get food from shared plates71.2
5もぎ箸mogi bashi: Sucking off grains of rice, etc, stuck to the chopsticks65.4
6重ね箸kasane bashi: Eating just one dish continuously61.9
7持ち箸mochi bashi: Grabbing a dish, glass, etc whilst holding chopsticks in the same hand61.6
8迷い箸mayoi bashi: Hovering chopsticks over the dishes while humming and hawing about what to eat54.4
9受け箸uke bashi: Holding chopsticks when asking for more rice44.8
10掻き箸kaki bashi: Holding a bowl to your mouth and shovelling food in43.0
11舐り箸neburi bashi: Licking your chopsticks27.6
12撥ね箸hane bashi: Pushing away disliked food with chopsticks23.8
13寄せ箸yose bashi: Pulling dishes closer with chopsticks23.5
14洗い箸arai bashi: Washing chopsticks in soup16.3
15指し箸sashi bashi: Pointing at people or things with chopsticks15.7
16すかし箸sukashi bashi: Rather than turning over a fish, picking away the meat from under the bones14.8
17揃え箸soroe bashi: Suddenly lunging at dishes with chopsticks ready13.1
18空箸kara bashi: Picking up food but not eating it8.7
19移り箸・渡り箸utsuri bashi, watari bashi: Aiming to pick up one dish, but then suddenly switching to another8.7
20涙箸namida bashi: Allowing tears of soup to drip from your chopsticks7.8

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

Rank日本語ExplanationScore
1仏箸hotoke bashi: The gaijin etiquette book favourite, standing your chopsticks up in a bowl of rice100
2指し箸sashi bashi: Pointing at people or things with chopsticks91.9
3叩き箸tataki bashi: Making a noise by striking dishes with chopsticks90.1
4寄せ箸yose bashi: Pulling dishes closer with chopsticks84.8
5舐り箸neburi bashi: Licking your chopsticks73.4
6合わせ箸awase bashi: Passing food from chopstick to chopstick – another foreigner etiquette book favourite71.0
7噛み箸kami bashi: Chewing chopsticks68.2
8涙箸namida bashi: Allowing tears of soup to drip from your chopsticks67.4
9突き箸・刺し箸tsuki bashi, sashi bashi: Spearing food then eating it62.6
10せせり箸seseri bashi: Poking or playing with your food using chopsticks62.1
11迷い箸mayoi bashi: Hovering chopsticks over the dishes while humming and hawing about what to eat56.1
12移り箸・渡り箸utsuri bashi, watari bashi: Aiming to pick up one dish, but then suddenly switching to another49.9
13空箸kara bashi: Picking up food but not eating it49.5
14違い箸chigai bashi: Using a mis-matched pair of chopsticks48.0
15洗い箸arai bashi: Washing chopsticks in soup46.2
16撥ね箸hane bashi: Pushing away disliked food with chopsticks36.0
17揃え箸soroe bashi: Suddenly lunging at dishes with chopsticks ready35.0
18掻き箸kaki bashi: Holding a bowl to your mouth and shovelling food in33.1
19持ち箸mochi bashi: Grabbing a dish, glass, etc whilst holding chopsticks in the same hand29.8
20込み箸komi bashi: Stuffing too much food into your mouth28.0
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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. 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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