Learn Japanese Chopsticks Taboos | Guidable Japan

Learn Japanese Chopsticks Taboos

By Guidable Writers Jul 31, 2016

Since Japanese food is very popular all over the world, many people can use chopsticks.

But do you know there are taboo ways to use them?
Actually there are too many so most of us do without knowing it’s bad. So mostly you can be casual. But some of the ways are very taboo and strongly unacceptable by all of us.

Here I show you 3 actions you should never do in Japan.



Do not pass food from your chopsticks to others’. This action reminds us a funeral. In Buddhism ceremony, bereaved families pass bunted bones with long chopsticks after cremation. Don’t make us remember such a sad occasion. Avoiding Utsushi-bashi is also for hygienic reason.


スクリーンショット 2016-07-31 1.11.28(Reference: http://www.irasutoya.com/)


Do not stick your chopsticks into rice. This is also for religious reason. We cook rice for dead people before funeral and put chopsticks straight into it. My first funeral experience was when I was 3 years old. I knew Tate-bashi is taboo from that age and I still remember to get exited to see a real Tate-bashi for the first time. Sorry, grandpa.


スクリーンショット 2016-07-31 1.11.50(Reference: http://www.irasutoya.com/)


Do not point someone with chopsticks. This action will break a good relationship at once. Japanese people rarely show anger in front of others, so if you do this we don’t say anything but feel very annoyed. This is physically dangerous as well. This taboo applies not only toward person but also things. If you want to point something, put off chopsticks before you do.


スクリーンショット 2016-07-31 1.11.59(Reference: http://www.irasutoya.com/)

The rules below are not that strictly avoided, but still many people feel uncomfortable in some situations. So try not to do them.



Do not pull dishes with chopsticks. You should avoid this especially you’re dining with others. If you do this, everyone thinks you are lazy and rude. Use your hand instead.

スクリーンショット 2016-07-31 1.12.08(Reference: http://www.irasutoya.com/)


Do not do “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” with chopsticks. Do not make yours flutter above dishes. This looks childish. If you can’t decide which to eat, stay calm and think and then hold chopsticks.

スクリーンショット 2016-07-31 1.12.15(Reference: http://www.irasutoya.com/)


Do not lick your chopsticks. This is also considered to be childish and greedy. You don’t need to be careful in casual situation like drinking party with co-workers. But if you visit an expensive restaurant with your important customer, keep in mind this rule. This sounds tough, but try not to make food particles remain on chopsticks.


スクリーンショット 2016-07-31 1.12.24(Reference: http://www.irasutoya.com/)

Chopsticks are chopsticks. It’s not a spoon, a knife or a folk. Of course it’s not a finger. If you use them as if they are something else, it’s considered to be rude. Remember these taboos and be a chopsticks sensei!