Wednesday, January 14, 2009

All about Chopsticks

Are you ready? This story is pretty funny...

We're eating at a ramen shop in Tokyo before heading out for some sightseeing. It's a really small restaurant (no big surprise there) and the 5 of us are all huddled around a small table eating our Japanese noodle soups-yum!

I notice that my mom keeps grabbing a new set of chopsticks every few minutes and Tim and I are wondering what's going on, but we don't say anything...

Obviously she doesn't know how to use chopsticks very well or at all and that's fair enough. She doesn't get the opportunity to use them very often. she reaches to get yet another set of chopsticks, I ask "What are you doing?!?"
She says, "I keep breaking my chopsticks apart!!! I can't seem to keep them together!!"

How funny is that??? Tim and I start cracking up!! I was laughing so hard! I then explained to her that you are supposed to break them apart and I tried to show her how to use them.

Chopsticks can be quite challenging. I have always had a difficult time with them, getting a seldom chance to practice my technique at sushi restaurants in San Diego. But now after living here for almost 6 months, I am getting the hang of it.

Sooo...I thought I would share some helpful and interesting information about o-hashi (chopsticks)!

Basics: How to Hold Chopsticks:

  1. Hold the upper chopstick with the index finger, the middle finger, and the thumb.
  2. Put the other chopstick between the bottom of the thumb and the tip of the ring finger.
  3. Move the upper chopstick only when you pick up food.
  4. It's impolite to hold chopsticks with five fingers in Japan.

Bad manners:

  • Waving chopsticks above food dishes.
  • Sticking chopsticks into food instead of picking them up.
  • Picking up a cup/bowl with the hand that is holding your chopsticks.
  • Sucking chopsticks.
  • Sticking chopsticks vertically into a bowl of rice. Only at funeral are chopsticks stuck into the rice that is put onto the altar.
  • Passing food from your chopsticks to somebody else's chopsticks.
Different chopsticks for different cultures...
  • Chinese: longer sticks that are square in cross section at one end (where they are held) and round in cross section at the other (where they contact the food), ending in a blunt tip.
  • Japanese: short to medium length sticks that taper to a pointed end. This may be attributed to the fact that the Japanese diet includes large amounts of whole bony fish. Japanese chopsticks are traditionally made of wood and are lacquered. Some chopstick sets include two lengths of chopsticks: shorter ones for women and longer ones for men. Child-sized chopsticks are widely sold.
  • Korean: medium-length stainless-steel tapered rods, with a flat rectangular cross section. (Traditionally, they were made of brass or silver.) Many Korean metal chopsticks are ornately decorated at the grip. They are sometimes used to pick up food onto a spoon,which then brings food to the mouth.
  • Vietnamese: long sticks that taper to a blunt point; traditionally wooden, but now made of plastic as well. A đũa cả is a large pair of flat chopsticks that is used to serve rice from a pot.

So, the next time you pick up some chopsticks, remember these tips!



  1. Hey, is that photo on your title bar a Japanese Chia Pet?! Sagoy!

  2. Yes, I think so! Pretty cool, huh?