Some of the most important chopstick rules are:

  • Hold your chopsticks towards their end, and not in the middle or the front third.

  • When you are not using your chopsticks and when you are finished eating, lay them down in front of you with the tip to left.

  • Do not stick chopsticks into your food, especially not into rice. Only at funerals are chopsticks stuck into the rice that is put onto the altar.

  • Do not pass food with your chopsticks directly to somebody else’s chopsticks. Only at funerals are the bones of the cremated body given in that way from person to person.

  • Do not spear food with your chopsticks.

  • Do not point with your chopsticks to something or somebody.

  • Do not move your chopsticks around in the air too much, nor play with them.

  • Do not move around plates or bowls with chopsticks.

  • To separate a piece of food into two pieces, exert controlled pressure on the chopsticks while moving them apart from each other. This needs much exercise.

  • If you have already used your chopsticks, use the opposite end of your chopsticks in order to move food from a shared plate to your own plate.

Knife and fork are used for Western food only. Spoons are sometimes used to eat Japanese dishes that are difficult to eat with chopsticks, for example some donburi dishes or Japanese style curry rice. A Chinese style ceramic spoon is sometimes used to eat soups.

Click here for more information about Japanese table manners.