From the title, you might be thinking "What do you mean, chopsticks in the food? Where am I going to put the chopsticks?" Calm down there. The taboo in question isn't about you leaving chopsticks in the food while you're eating it, but about picking up a pair of chopsticks and sticking or spearing 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 no social circumstances, you should do this.
Why you shouldn't stick / stick / stick chopsticks in food
Basically, the act of you sticking a pair of chopsticks into food in an upright position (especially in a rice bowl) is considered inappropriate because it symbolizes a pair of incense sticks lit at a funeral. Even the act of dipping utensils into food is seen as an offering to the dead at funerals.
This is something that is not only considered taboo in Japan but also considered taboo throughout East Asia. In China and Korea, the act of you spearing a pair of chopsticks and leaving them stuck in a pot of rice is considered rude on social occasions as 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 in the food, it is also considered inappropriate to share a piece of food from one chopstick to another as it also has to do with funerals. At Japanese funerals, bone fragments of the deceased are passed from chopsticks to chopsticks.
Placing cutlery on top of your bowl during a meal tells everyone around you that you no longer want your plate. If you haven't finished eating, then this could be rude as it could indicate that you didn't like the food.
If the cutlery is not disposable, place the utensils along the left edge of your plate. Make sure they are placed together and do not cross each other. Try not to let your hand or cutlery move from plate to plate while you decide what to eat. It's better to take a little from each dish, rather than just what you eat all the time.
There's usually a lot of food available at a restaurant, so hang up and grab something if you can't choose what to eat.
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