In Japanese, chopsticks
are called "hashi
" or even "o-hashi", as sensei
reminds us in his node.
The customs that maladrome speaks of are standard throughout East Asia. In Japanese, these are the things you shouldn't do with o-hashi:
SASHI. "Sashi" means "inserting". This means never stick your hashi into food, as though you were spearing food with a fork. And of course, never spear and leave them in your bowl of rice. At funeral services, a dish of rice with hashi stuck into it stands on the butsudan (altar). And never pass food from your hashi directly to someone else's; the cremated bones of the dead are passed from person to person this way, although usually with metal hashi. (Still, it's gross).
- MAYOI. "Dithering". This means don't wave o-hashi around in the air, for example while trying to decide what to eat next. Also, don't point at anything or anybody with hashi.
- YOSÉ means "drawing near". Never use o-hashi to pull dishes of food toward you.
And a few other points:
Always lift bowls to the level of the heart when eating rice or drinking soup.
- Keep elbows in towards the body. Lift the bowl to your mouth rather than craning your head down into the bowl.
- When you eat tempura, sushi, sashimi (raw fish) or other foods that you dip in a sauce, hold the dish with the dipping sauce with your free hand, though there is no requirement to lift it.
- When you are eating foods from dishes that are too large to pick up (for example, the plates used for grilled fish), you would just leave the dishes on the table.
- If you are eating a communal dish such as a hot pot or yakitori, transfer a portion from the communal pot to your own bowl, then lift the bowl toward you to eat from it.