A Bit of Chopstick Etiquette

Chopsticks are still a novelty to many people here in the States, so it can be easy to mistakenly use them in a way that a traditionally-minded Japanese diner might find offensive.  In case you’re playing host to some overseas friends at I Love Sushi’s Seattle restaurant, keep the following guidelines in mind when you use your sticks:

  • Chopsticks Are Not Toys: Don’t use your sticks to point, don’t use them to pass dishes across the table, and don’t give yourself a pair of chopstick tusks.
  • Chopsticks Are Not Hairpieces: It is a popular misconception that chopsticks are worn in hair.  People who appear to be wearing chopsticks are actually wearing something called the kanzashi, which only resembles chopsticks.  The two are not considered interchangeable, so don’t put your sticks in your hair.
  • Don’t Rub Your Sticks Together: Are you eating under a Japanese host?  If so, rubbing your sticks together can be seen as an insult.  This is something that is generally done when you have a cheap pair of sticks that need to have the splinters cleared away after you break them apart.

Chopsticks Are Not Independant: Your sticks should always be used as a set.  Don’t ever use one without the other.  In particular, never use a stick to skewer a piece of food like a kabob.