For many of us born outside of Asia, eating with chopsticks is not a skill we’re taught from a young age, and is something many people may go their whole lives without mastering. In Japan, however, kids are started on chopsticks from as early as a year old, and whether or not a person holds their chopsticks correctly reflects on that person’s upbringing (because only a lazy, incompetent parent would allow their child to hold chopsticks like a heathen!).

Not to worry though–foreigners in Japan are given a lot of slack in the chopstick department, since it’s generally assumed that chopsticks are pretty much non-existent in the west. But even if you don’t know how to use chopsticks doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn how, and if you can use them, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re doing it correctly. That’s where Chopstick Man comes in, with his tutorial on the proper way to hold your hold your chopsticks!

Our hero, Ohashi Man (literally, Chopstick Man), is here to right the wrongs of poor chopstick-holding, and to teach you newbies how it’s done!

First, you want to hold the first chopstick gently between your thumb, index, and middle fingers, much as you would a pencil.


Holding the chopstick like so, you can now practice moving it up and down. Straighten your index and middle finger to move the chopstick up, then bend them to bring it back down.



Be careful not to bend your thumb in the process.


Once you’ve got that motion down, it’s time to throw in the second chopstick. First, grip it firmly with your thumb as shown below, then use your ring finger to support it.


Hold the first chopstick as you practiced previously, and now try the same motions as before. Only the top chopstick should move, the bottom one being held in place by your thumb and ring finger. Now, you are ready to wow your Japanese hosts with your mad chopstick skills! (Warning: “Hashi jouzu!” “[You’re] great at using chopsticks!” will now be something you’ll hear frequently, as everyone at the table turns their attention to your chopstick-holding hand and makes you feel super-awkward while trying not to drop a greasy spring roll…)


Why should you be so worried about the proper method for holding chopsticks? Well, as Ohashi Man tells us, a whopping 90 percent of Japanese feel very bothered when they see someone holding chopsticks incorrectly! (Keep in mind, this survey was done by the people at the company who created this tutorial…)


Other benefits of proper chopstick use? Being able to hold your pencil properly too…


You can avoid bringing shame upon yourself…


And, most of all, you can better enjoy your meal.


If you’re still a beginner, don’t give up! It might be tedious bringing empty chopsticks up to your lips time and time again as the pile of food on your lap grows bigger, but with practice you’ll soon be eating like a pro. And in reality, you probably don’t need fret too much over the proper way of holding them. After all, as it turns out, only around 30 percent of Japanese adults are holding their chopsticks the “correct” way anyway.

Here are some bonus chopstick etiquette tips for you as well:

1. Do not pick up your food by piercing or stabbing it with your chopsticks

2. Do not slide your dishes of food around using your chopsticks

3. Do not pass food from your chopsticks directly to another persons chopsticks (This motion has ties to Japanese funerals, in which the remnants of the deceased’s bones are passed between family members and then into the urn after cremation.)

4. Do not stick your chopsticks straight up into your food (This also had ties to funerals)

Happy eating!

Sources: YouTube via Kotaku US, Nikkei Shimbun
Images: YouTube