Often foreigners in Japan are complimented on how they use chopsticks. Many, however, are not actually using them properly. Then again, neither are most Japanese people. Go figure.
This article was originally published on March 4, 2015.
As Kotaku reported in 2012, only 30 percent of Japanese people in their 40s and 50s hold chopsticks correctly. Each year, that number gets smaller and smaller.
But can you spot the proper way to hold chopsticks? In the picture below you can see all these different ways of holding chopsticks in Japan, but only one way is the right way. Can you tell which?*
[Image via にゅーす特報]
So, while the number of people who use chopsticks correctly might be lower than you’d think, it is still a sign of good manners. Using them incorrectly is a sign of bad manners—and even, oh dear, poor upbringing. That’s why when Japanese celebrities appear on food shows and hold their chopsticks in a horribly incorrect or even odd manner, they are often mocked online.
Chopstick specialty outlet Seiwa did a poll, revealing that nearly 90 percent of respondents had a “highly favorable” impression of people who use chopsticks properly. It’s good manners! If you don’t know how or need a refresher, let Chopstick Man show you how it’s done:
Hold one chopstick, like so, with your pointer, middle finger, and thumb. You should be able to move the chopstick up and down.