One of the most useful things to know before going to Japan is how to eat with chopsticks. Unlike in China or Korea, where you at least get a spoon for sour or rice, it’s chopsticks only in Japan. (Unless you wish to exclusively eat at the Mos Burger, of course.) Hence, to assure survival, you’ll need at least to know the basics of handling chopsticks, which are:
- Take the first chopstick in your hand. It should lie on top of the fingernail of your ring finger. Resist the urge of pressing the tip of the middle finger against the wood!
- Take the second chopstick like a pen in your first three fingers. You should be able to move it relatively freely.
- Although you have a pair of chopsticks, only the upper one moves, essentially up-and-down towards the lower one.
Tips for beginners:
Relaxing your hand and fingers makes using chopsticks more easy. Or so I’ve heard…
Don’t use your chopsticks as pointing devices or skewers.
Never stick them into the rice in an upright position – this is how offering to the dead are made.
There are plenty of other rules on using chopsticks – as for everything else in Japan – I may write about those later. You’ll need a lot of practice until you can eat with them, don’t get disheartened. Even Asians can have a hard time eating slippery or soft food like tofu drowned in sauce!