Death and Chopsticks

Whether they’re from Japan, America, or beyond, many diners love using chopsticks at I Love Sushi’s Seattle restaurant.  However, many people aren’t aware of the cultural weight that Japan attaches to these simple sticks.  We, of course, will not hold you to any particular chopstick etiquette, but it pays to be aware of certain customs in the event that you ever find yourself in the presence of a traditionally-minded Japanese friend.  After all, you may be surprised at how easy it is to insult the dead with your eating utensils.

There are many ways that improper chopstick use can evoke a Japanese funeral rite.  If you leave your chopsticks standing upright in your food, this resembles the way that rice is supposed to be offered to the deceased.  If you use your sticks to pass food to another set of sticks, you are evoking the way that the bones of the dead are moved about in a funeral.  Simply leaving your sticks crossed on the table or using an unmatched set of sticks can be insulting.  If you don’t want to offend your Japanese company, avoid such practices where possible.