By the title, you must be thinking “What do you mean, chopsticks in the food? Where am I going to put the chopsticks?“ Calm down. The taboo in question is not about leaving chopsticks in the food while you are eating, but taking a pair of chopsticks and pricking or sticking the food. Within Japan's social etiquette, this is seen as a lack of respect.
“Ah, but what does that mean? Why is it considered taboo?“
In this article, I will explain why, under any social circumstances, this should be done.
Why you shouldn't stick / stick / stick the chopstick in the food
Basically, the act of putting a pair of chopsticks in the food in an upright position (especially in a pot of rice), is considered inappropriate because it symbolizes a pair of lit incense at a funeral. In fact, the act of penetrating utensils into food is seen as an offering to the dead at funerals.
This is something that, not only is it taboo in Japan but it is also taboo in East Asia all over. In China and Korea, the act of stabbing a pair of chopsticks and leaving it in a pot of rice is considered rude on social occasions because it is also considered a means of making an offering to the dead.
Other things not to do with chopsticks
In addition to sticking a pair of chopsticks into the food, it is also considered inappropriate to share a piece of food from one chopstick to the other as it also has to do with funerals. At Japanese funerals, fragments of the deceased's bones are passed from one chopstick to the other.
Placing cutlery on top of your bowl during a meal tells everyone around you that you no longer want your plate. If you have not finished eating, then this can be rude as it may indicate that you did not like the food.
If the cutlery is not disposable, place the utensils along the left edge of your plate. Make sure they are put together and do not cross. Try not to let your hand or cutlery go from plate to plate while you decide what to eat. It is better to take a little of each dish, rather than just what you always eat.
There is usually a lot of food available at a restaurant, so take it easy and grab anything, if you can't choose what to eat.
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