What You Need to Know about Chopsticks Etiquette

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Whether you are eating your favourite meals at the hawker stall or dining in a luxurious hotel, there are just certain things that you should never do with your chopsticks if you want to be civilized and respectful. Generally, many of these etiquettes are not acceptable if you are using other cutlery. Follow these do’s and don’ts of chopstick etiquette and good manners wherever you are dining at.

The Do’s Rules


Holding chopsticks properly

It would take some time to practice holding the chopsticks in the proper way, not in the middle but leaving about ⅔ from the tip. This method you will have greater control over the food you pick up. The first attempt of picking up various bite-sized foods to practice, beyond that try to pick up a round object and lastly a grain of rice. If you want to take a difficult challenge try to pick up soft tofu without breaking it apart. Practice makes perfect so don’t be intimidated when you drop something with the chopsticks.

Having a Chopstick Holder

Once you are done using your chopsticks, try not to place them flat on the table but place them on the chopstick holder instead. Alternatively, you can create your chopstick holder out of a piece of plastic wrapper that comes with disposable chopsticks.

Communal Chopsticks

If you are eating from a communal plate, use the separate communal chopsticks provided with it. If communal chopsticks are not provided, you can use the other end of your chopsticks to pick up the food.



Picking up your rice

Compared to other types of rice, Japanese rice is stickier and easy to pick up with your chopsticks. Pick up the rice in a mouthful and bring it to your mouth while keeping the bowl under it in to catch anything that falls out of your chopstick.

Drinking Soup with your Chopsticks 

It’s totally fine to use your chopsticks to stir your soup. For example, any miso in your soup that has sunken to the bottom or move food to your mouth while you sip from your bowl.

The Don’ts Rules

Sticking Chopsticks in your Rice

Sticking a pair of chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice is highly offensive as this is done during funerals as an offering to the deceased. Never leave your chopsticks placed like a cross on your bowl, as this symbolizes death.

Passing food with Chopsticks

If you are passing food from chopsticks to chopsticks, it is considered offensive as this resembles a funeral ritual where bones of the deceased are passed from person to person into an urn with a pair of chopsticks.


Chopsticks are not meant to be a Toy

Playing around with your chopsticks are considered bad etiquette. Chopsticks are also not meant to be used as a hair accessory.

Stabbing your Food

Never stab or spear food with a chopstick, instead, pick the food up with both of your chopsticks

Pointing people with your Chopsticks

Similar to point at someone with just your fingers, it is considered rude to hold a pair of chopsticks and pointing them at someone.

Washing Chopsticks

Never wash your chopsticks in a bowl of soup or water to clean it from bits stuck to your chopsticks.

Sucking on your Chopsticks

Licking or sucking your chopsticks as it is regarded as bad manners and unhygienic especially if you are eating while sharing a plate of food with other people.

Stirring or searching for Food

Never use chopsticks to either stir or search for food from a communal plate or hover around dishes as it’s considered greedy. Furthermore, do not use your chopsticks to pull a bowl closer to you as this is considered as being rude.

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You Jing is a content writer who writes career and lifestyle contents to inspire job seekers and employers alike on their journey to work-life balance, empowerment and transformation in their career path.

Reach me at youjing@jobstore.com

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