How good are you at eating food using a knife and fork? graph of japanese statisticsI’ve always found Japanese saying “You’re good with chopsticks” such an empty compliment as a lot of them seem pretty poor themselves, and if they ever get loose on a knife and fork it’s often a total disaster. Perhaps what they are saying is that they themselves are no good with a knife and fork, a situation that this survey from iShare seems to back up.


Between the 15th and 21st of July 2009 574 members of the free email forwarding service CLUB BBQ completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 52.3% of the sample were male, 32.6% in their twenties, 31.0% in their thirties, and 36.2% in their forties.

Just thinking about it, one problem my wife has is pressing the knife down when cutting things; most Westerners (I hope! Or at least most Europeans do…) hold knives like we hold our pens, with the index finger straight out, but Japanese tend to hold pens in their fists, so perhaps the correct position is unfamiliar and uncomfortable to them.

I’d also have loved to have seen them asked if they can eat spaghetti without slurping or without holding their face a few centimetres above the place and shovelling the pasta in with both fork and spoon together.

Research results

Q1: Do you have opportunities to eat meals at places where western dishes form the main course? (Sample size=574)

  All Male
Frequently 12.2% 9.3% 15.3%
Sometimes 75.6% 75.0% 76.3%
Never 12.2% 15.7% 8.4%

Q2: Have you ever eaten spaghetti using a fork and spoon simultaneously? (Sample size=574)

  All Male
Yes (to SQ) 72.3% 63.7% 81.8%
No 27.7% 36.3% 18.2%

Q2SQ: How good are you at eating spaghetti with a fork and spoon? (Sample size=415)

  All Male
Strong point 28.7% 24.6% 32.1%
Reasonably strong point 42.2% 40.8% 43.3%
Reasonably poor 22.7% 27.2% 18.8%
Poor 6.5% 7.3% 5.8%

Q3: Have you ever eaten food using a knife and fork simultaneously? (Sample size=574)

  All Male
Yes (to SQ1) 94.8% 94.0% 95.6%
No 5.2% 6.0% 4.4%

Q3SQ1: How good are you at eating food using a knife and fork? (Sample size=544)

  All Male
Strong point 17.1% 15.6% 18.7%
Reasonably strong point (to SQ2) 50.2% 50.0% 50.4%
Reasonably poor (to SQ2) 28.9% 29.8% 27.9%
Poor (to SQ2) 3.9% 4.6% 3.1%

Q3SQ2: If you could, would you want to be skillful at eating with a knife and fork? (Sample size=481)

  All Male
Yes 53.4% 41.4% 67.1%
No 46.6% 58.6% 32.9%


Rrabano · August 6, 2009 at 02:02

Not good with Knife! What! Who came up with the Samurai Sword., Katana blade. As for fork what country u in.

Janne · August 6, 2009 at 09:01

Um, you hold your table knife with your index finger out? Weird.

Oh, and you do not eat pasta with a fork and spoon. That’s something tourists do when in Italy when they can’t handle spaghetti with a knife and fork like adults do.

waste · August 7, 2009 at 06:41

To Janne: Nonsense. You’re eating pasta without a knife, it’s a matter of good behavior at the table. You can do spaghetti with a spoon too, if you like, it’s not necessary though. That’s what Savoir-vivre says, how it’s done everyday – that’s another story. 🙂

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