You Don’t Know!? Taboos when using Chopsticks
Chopsticks Taboo 1: Standing Chopsticks
To stick chopsticks in a bowl of rice or a side dish is called “tate hashi” (standing chopsticks).
This is one of the things to offer at the bedside of the deceased. It refers to the way that chopsticks are stuck into the rice and stood up on the dedicated “pillow meal” to the dead.
Therefore, it is best not to do “tate hashi” because sticking chopsticks upright into a bowl of rice in some other place will unintentionally be associated with Buddhist memorial service or funeral services by people around you.
Chopsticks Taboo 2: Chopstick Licking
As the name, licking the things on chopsticks with your tongue is called “Neburibashi”.
When eating other things during a meal, you may unconsciously check that the taste of one thing will not mix with others by licking the chopsticks, but this will make the people around you uncomfortable. Therefore, although you may tend to unconsciously do it, please take care to avoid it.
Chopsticks Taboo 3: Chopstick Passing
To exchange and deliver food from chopsticks to chopsticks is called “Hashi watashi.” (chopstick passing).
While eating, if you want to eat something out of your reach, it is common to ask someone near you to take it for you, but sometimes there are cases where you try to pass with chopsticks.
Certainly, you can quickly pass directly with chopsticks, but this is said to be bad luck because the same thing is done when picking up the bones of the deceased after cremation.
Therefore, when passing food to others, use a plate rather than passing with chopsticks.
Chopsticks Taboo 4: Chopstick Clutching
This is also just like the name, holding the chopsticks by clutching them in your hand is called “nigiri hashi” (chopstick clutching).
It is thought of as a childish way to use chopsticks like a child who has just started to use them or a person from abroad who is not used to using them.
However, this does not fulfill the function of the chopsticks at all and appears aggressive to clutch your chopsticks in the middle of a meal.
Therefore, it may be difficult, but if possible try to avoid clutching the chopsticks.
Chopsticks Taboo 4: Wandering Chopsticks
Waving your chopsticks this way and that above the food wondering what to eat next is called “Mayoi hashi” (wandering chopsticks).
If the food is very delicious or there are many different kinds of food, it may be hard to decide what to eat and you may unintentionally move your chopsticks around indecisively.
However, “wandering chopsticks” are not good manners, so please take care not to wave your chopsticks around while you wonder what to eat next.