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How to hold Chopsticks: 5 steps to use Chopsticks properly

What is Chopstick?

How to Hold Chopsticks: 5 Steps to Use Chopsticks Properly - Japanchunks


Chopsticks are the most multipurpose utensil ever invented. It’s a fork, knife, tongs, whisk, and steamer stand all in one. Meals in Japan are typically eaten using chopsticks, which are referred to as ‘hashi’ in Japanese. This is especially true of Japanese cuisine, which is virtually entirely consumed with just a pair of chopsticks. Chopsticks are used not only for eating rice and side dishes, but also for eating noodles, pork, and other meals.

Although many of us believe that chopsticks predate cutlery, eating with chopsticks is a very recent addition to Asian cuisine. Initially, chopsticks were largely used for stirring food while cooking, with spoons serving as the primary eating utensil. Chopsticks are fantastic utensils; however, they might be daunting to some. They aren’t always suitable, to be sure. With chopsticks, it’s difficult to consume a steak and potatoes. However, chopsticks are, believe it or not, easier and faster to use than a knife and fork for many foods if you become used to them. Not to mention, the next time you sit down to a good Asian meal, you’ll be a lot cooler.

Millet was the most extensively consumed grain in China for hundreds of years, and it was eaten as porridge with a spoon. Chopsticks were not introduced to Chinese cuisine until the 10th century when the introduction of wheat and milled flour opened up fascinating new culinary possibilities. Foods like dumplings and noodles were born as a result, which is easier to consume with chopsticks than spoons.

However, they can be a challenge for those who didn’t grow up with them.

So, here’s a guide for you to learn how to hold and use them properly:


  1. How to hold chopsticks

If you’re used to manipulating your food with forks and knives, you might find it difficult to adjust to chopsticks at first. Mastering the mechanics becomes much easier once you grasp how to hold them correctly. Start by resting the first chopstick on your dominant hand’s inner edge of your ring finger and the webbing of your thumb. Place the second one between your index, middle, and thumb, as if you were holding a pencil. This allows you to easily move the top chopstick while keeping the bottom one in place.

Some things to think about

  1. Begin by casually gripping your dominant hand.
  2. Keep your hands calm and continue to practise with different foods.
  3. The chopsticks should be held about one-third of the way down.
  4. Chopsticks should be snugly fitting.
  5. Chopsticks should be supported naturally by the ring and little fingers.


  1. Right ways to hold chopsticks


Getting the Chopsticks in the Right Place

Because of their perceived difficulties, some Westerners are hesitant to use chopsticks. This is ridiculous. They aren’t tough, but they do take some getting accustomed to. While you can hold your chopsticks in whatever way you choose, there is a right technique to hold them that thousands of years of use have proven to be the most comfortable and graceful. With your dominant hand, pick up the chopsticks. Pick up the chopsticks from the table with the back of your hand facing you, using whichever hand is more coordinated.

Place your non-dominant hand beneath the chopsticks’ tip end and gently squeeze them together. This will align them in such a way that they are completely parallel to one another. In your dominant hand, hold one chopstick between your pointer, middle finger, and thumb, and move it up and down with your thumb motionless. To do this properly, practise with just one chopstick. The other chopstick lies on your ring finger and is inserted between your thumb and palm.

  • Chopsticks should be laid side by side in front of you at a horizontal angle on a conventional table arrangement.
  • When picking up the chopsticks, be careful not to make a loud clacking sound. In quiet eateries and more formal settings, doing so might be deemed impolite.
  • Even if spectators periodically shake their heads at you, if you already have a decent method of utilising chopsticks, you can get away with it.
  • Picking up chopsticks with your first two or three fingers and thumb is usually easiest.
  • Sticking chopsticks upright into a bowl of food is disrespectful because it evokes the idea of burning incense in a pot, which is a technique reserved for paying respect to deceased ancestors, not for the eating table.


Circumscribe the top third of the chopsticks with your hand

As you modify the placement of your dominant hand, use your non-dominant hand to steady the chopsticks. Until you’re ready to dive in, keep both chopsticks together in the crook between your thumb and index finger. If you’re not sure where to put your hand, start by aligning the top of the chopsticks with the tip of your thumb, then flip your hand over and grab the point closest to your thumb’s base.

It will be more difficult to wield the chopsticks effectively if your hand is too high or too low on them.

  • Always keep the wide upper end of your chopsticks facing outward and the thin, tapered end facing inward when using them.


Moving techniques of chopsticks

How to Hold Chopsticks: 5 Steps to Use Chopsticks Properly- Japanchunks


When manipulating the chopsticks, keep in mind that the top chopstick should be moving, while the bottom chopstick should be still. If done correctly, you should be able to hold little objects like beans or grains of rice in your hands one at a time.

Place the lower chopstick between your thumb and ring finger’s base. Place the upper section of the first chopstick in the cleft between your thumb and fingers, and the tip end against the inner edge of your ring finger. Avoid moving or altering this chopstick until you’ve got it where you want it. After you’ve mastered holding both chopsticks, try shifting them. The initial joint of the middle finger should support the upper chopstick. When held correctly, the points should be in contact with each other, but the other portions should not. In this position, move the upper chopstick up and down between the right hand’s middle and index fingers. Try not to move the bottom chopstick this time. The tips of the chopsticks should open and close if done correctly.

  • Some native chopstick users prefer to place their bottom chopstick higher on the hand, around the base of the forefinger.
  • The bottom chopstick should remain stationary when used correctly, enabling the top chopstick to do all of the work.


Thumb rules for usage

As little as possible, keep your thumb moving. As a fulcrum for the upper chopstick, use the top of your thumb to provide just enough counter-pressure for it to rotate against. The base’s sole purpose is to support the bottom chopstick. Attempting to incorporate your thumb into the movement will only increase your chances of tripping. It’s also crucial to keep your thumb straight at the knuckle rather than allowing it to bend.

It may appear difficult to keep your thumb in place, but it provides you with one less thing to think about, allowing you to concentrate on moving the chopsticks open and closed.

While chopstick etiquette differs by culture, there are several frequent mistakes. Impaling food with chopsticks is normally considered impolite, but it is done occasionally. (You could eat with toothpicks if you wanted to.) Chopsticks should not be used to move bowls or plates because you have hands. Sticking your chopsticks upright in your rice at the meal is one of the most fundamental taboos. This appears to be a harbinger of death since it resembles incense sticks burned to honour deceased loved ones. This is a widespread taboo in chopstick-using societies, as reminding individuals of their imminent demise at the dinner table is considered impolite at best.


Keeping Your Chopsticks Under Control

  • With your first two fingers, open and close the chopsticks. Lift your index and middle fingers in tandem to open the chopsticks. Simply press down again to close them. Both fingers should feel like they are extending from the chopstick. If you’re having problems picking up food in this manner, consider gently changing your grip such that the pad of your middle finger braces the bottom chopstick on the opposite side of your thumb. Only the chopsticks’ tips should move. The tops should either remain stationary or move closer to one other without touching.
  • To keep both chopsticks from shifting, retaining a tight grasp on them. If necessary, take a moment to reset both chopsticks with your non-dominant hand, making sure to place the bottom one across your ring finger and the base of your thumb and the top one poised like a pencil. The more you move your chopsticks up or down, the more difficult it becomes to utilise them. Hold your chopsticks firmly but not too tightly. This will only exhaust your hand and damage your technique.

Beginners should use wooden or bamboo chopsticks since they provide a little more traction against your hand and one another.


  • Apply slight pressure to the top chopstick to keep your meal in place. Open your chopsticks and place a bite-sized piece of whatever you’re eating between them. Concentrate on lightly pressing down on the upper chopstick as you elevate the bite to your mouth. This will secure the food between the top and bottom chopsticks, preventing it from moving. Chopstick proficiency, like any other skill, takes time and practice. Slowly move foods of different shapes, sizes, and textures from one bowl to the next. This enjoyable activity will assist you in mastering the fundamentals. Remember that the bottom chopstick’s sole purpose is to offer support from underneath. The top chopstick should be performing the majority of the job.
  • To shred food into tiny pieces, reverse the opening-closing process. Bring your chopsticks’ tips together and insert them into the widest area of the food. Then, using enough force, pull them apart to separate the food into two pieces. Keep in mind that this alternative “cutting” method is only effective on softer foods. Meats, vegetables, and grains that have been reduced to a size suited for chopsticks are common in traditional Asian cuisines. Certain dishes, such as tempura and entire fish, may, nevertheless, require breaking up to make them more manageable. It’s also common in casual dining settings to take bites off of large chunks of food rather than shredding or chopping them.


Learning How to Use Chopsticks Correctly


  • In a bowl of rice, never stick your chopsticks straight up. This may appear to be an innocuous way to keep them in place, but it is a cardinal offence in Japan and many other Asian countries when it comes to chopstick use. This is because it is usual for the relatives of the deceased to set a pair of chopsticks vertically in a bowl of rice and leave it as an offering to the spirit of their departed loved one at Japanese funeral rites. If you want to put your chopsticks down, lay them horizontally over your bowl to keep it still. Because it’s regarded that acts that remind your hosts or others around you of death bring ill luck, they’re discouraged.
  • If you’re eating at a formal dinner or at a restaurant, don’t lay your chopsticks across your plate or bowl until you’re through. For a variety of reasons, such as grabbing a glass of water, you may wish to put down your chopsticks. Many restaurants include chopstick rests where customers can put their chopsticks while they aren’t using them. You putting down your chopsticks at a formal meal could be a sign that you’re no longer hungry and rolling off a dish. It’s generally OK to set down your chopsticks unless you’re in a formal restaurant or meeting. This does not imply that you should put your chopsticks down. It’s fine to do it every now and again, but try to keep it up for the most part.
  • Dishes should be moved with your hands rather than chopsticks. Instead of scooting or dragging plates, bowls, or other dining ware across the table with your chopsticks, use your free hand to rearrange them. If you use your hosts’ cutlery for something other than their original function, you risk insulting them.
  • If you need to pass or move a very large, heavy, or awkward dish, it’s best to put your chopsticks down and use both hands. Banging bowls with chopsticks is a habit associated with beggars in China and some other Asian countries, thus you’ll be unknowingly insulting your own dignity. Whenever possible, use both chopsticks at the same time. No matter how tough it is to get used to chopsticks, resist the impulse to push your food around or spear resistant bites with the point of one of them. Chopsticks are designed to be used in pairs. They’re just supposed to be used for picking up food. Even holding your chopsticks separately in different hands is frowned upon in some nations.
  • Don’t point your chopsticks at other people or make gestures with them. If you have a habit of talking with your hands or feel compelled to act out what you’re saying, make sure you set your chopsticks down first. Consider how you’d react if someone swung a fork at you while making a point! It should go without saying, but drumming on the table, conducting an unseen symphony, imitating a walrus, or acting out a mock sword duel with your chopsticks are all no-nos. Keep in mind that these are tools, not toys.
  • If serving chopsticks are offered, do not consume or take food from the serving dish with your personal chopsticks. Using the serving chopsticks or other serving tools provided, transfer the meal to your plate. Then eat from your own dish with your own chopsticks. That way, you won’t have contaminated other people’s food with utensils that were in your mouth. Digging around in the serving dish for the best-looking pieces or your favourite ingredients is another error to avoid while serving yourself.


Resting techniques of chopsticks

Laying your chopsticks over your bowl at the conclusion of the meal is considered impolite in Japanese etiquette. You’d be excused for wondering what you’re supposed to do with them. A hashioki, or chopstick rest, is provided by Japanese eateries that want you to eat this tastefully. Developed as an earthenware container to keep chopsticks warm during state banquets during the Heian dynasty, they’ve since been polished to keep chopsticks clean and show off one’s refinement to guests.

Even disposable chopstick manufacturers have anticipated this. Trash Panda, a Twitter user, discovered that the chunk of wood at the end of some disposable chopsticks could be snapped off to act as a makeshift hashioki in 2016, prompting a surprising number of people on social media to exclaim, “What do you mean? Yes, of course! I’m a moron for not noticing.” If your disposable chopsticks don’t have the bit at the end, you may always roll up the chopsticks’ paper sleeve to construct a makeshift chopstick rest.chopsticks chinese or japanese - japanchunks


Etiquette in Korea

Chopsticks are unlike any other type of chopstick in that they are flatter, squarer, and made of metal rather than wood or bamboo. They’re shorter than Chinese chopsticks but longer than Japanese chopsticks. The custom is supposed to have started during the Baekje dynasty, when royalty used silver chopsticks to ward off assassination attempts since it was thought that silver would change colour when exposed to poison. As a result, the regular people began using metal chopsticks to imitate the royals, and the habit has persisted to this day. Modern Korean chopsticks are commonly constructed of stainless steel, despite the fact that they were traditionally made of brass or bronze. Because they’re a little more slippery and difficult to handle than their wooden or bamboo counterparts, they come in a set with a metal spoon called sujeo.

Chopsticks are used to consume side dishes or bits of meat, while soups and rice are eaten with a spoon. The nobility of the haughty Joseon dynasty thought eating rice with chopsticks was inelegant, so they were perplexed when they visited Ming China and witnessed people doing so brazenly. Nowadays, using a spoon and chopsticks at the same time is not recommended. Apart from being impolite, it would appear ludicrous, yet if you’re ambidextrous, it could be a fun party trick. When eating food that is prone to drip, this rule is broken because picking up one’s bowl is considered impolite in Korea.


Etiquette in Japan

In certain areas, Japanese chopstick use departs from normal Chinese practise: whereas crossing your chopsticks over your bowl after eating is acceptable in China and Taiwan, it is not acceptable in Japan. Perhaps the etiquette topic on which the Japanese are particularly strict is their hatred for “jikabashi,” or taking food from the communal plates with one’s own chopsticks. This is considered as unsanitary, and it reminds people of how bones are handled during funeral ceremonies. While it was customary to use a different pair of chopsticks to move food from the communal plate to the eating plate in the past, many modern Japanese now reverse the chopsticks in their hands when taking communal food. This isn’t considered proper etiquette, either, but This is also not considered proper etiquette, but it’s better than nothing.


Etiquette in China

While food in ancient China was eaten with both a spoon and chopsticks, eating culture evolved in the Song dynasty to only use chopsticks for unknown reasons, presumably related to the increased consumption of clumpy rice and the popularity of communal eating. Chopsticks are now used to eat everything except soup (which should be eaten with a spoon), Peking duck (which should be eaten with your hands), and various desserts.

Picking up your bowl and shovelling rice into your mouth is perfectly acceptable in China today, though it is frowned upon elsewhere. When you consider that Chinese chopsticks are circular, unlike their square Japanese and Korean counterparts, this makes sense. With your thumb on the bowl’s mouth and your fingers supporting the bottom, you pick it up. It is considered impolite as well as unhealthy for digestion to not pick up your bowl and simply lean forward into it. Allowing the eating ends of your chopsticks to touch the table is a faux pas, so place them across your bowl or on a convenient chopstick rest. Banging your bowl with chopsticks is thought to resemble beggars begging for food and should be avoided.

How to Use Chopsticks in Simple Steps

  • Make a loose grip using your dominant hand. Clenching one’s chopsticks generally results in tossing one’s food all over the place. Place the first chopstick between your pointer and thumb in the valley. It should be balanced on your ring finger.
  • Along with the first chopstick, place the second chopstick in the valley between your pointer and thumb, but this time rest it on your middle finger rather than your ring finger.
  • To grip the second chopstick even tighter, use your thumb, pointer, and middle fingers.
  • The initial chopstick remains mostly motionless. With the second chopstick, the index and middle fingers undertake all of the heavy lifting. Let’s see what we can do. Open your chopsticks by moving the top chopstick up and down with your index and middle fingers.
  • The first chopstick is largely static. The index and middle fingers on the second chopstick do all of the hard work. Let’s see what we can come up with. With your index and middle fingers, open your chopsticks by moving the top chopstick up and down.

How chopsticks are used as a multi-purpose kitchen gadget

I’ve often puzzled why tongs aren’t used as an eating tool in any culture. The ability to pick things up and shove them in your mouth appears to be the most important criterion. Tongs, on the other hand, are cumbersome, and chopsticks are preferable. The same idea holds true when it comes to cooking. Cooking chopsticks, known as saibashi in Japan, are twice as long as dining chopsticks and are frequently tied at the end so they may be hung up when not in use.

By comparison, using a slotted spoon was a breeze. Chopsticks are useful for blanching vegetables, flipping bacon, straining noodles, mixing sauces, tossing salads, plucking olives or pickles from long jars, testing baked potatoes or muffins for doneness. Pitting cherries, skewering vegetables, toasting marshmallows, stirring coffee grounds, and even substituting for extra-long matches if you have a hard-to-reach pilot light on the stove. When flipping delicate items like tofu or flaky fish, chopsticks provide a softer touch and more control than harsh tongs.

When delicately arranging herbs, microgreens, gold leaf, chocolate shavings, crystallised fruit, edible flowers, or precise drabs of sauce onto a dish. They can even replace tweezers. You’ll wonder why you even used the tweezers in the first place. Chopsticks are a multi-purpose instrument that can be used in place of tongs, spatulas, or spoons. Sure, you won’t want to toss those out — try flipping a steak or pancakes with chopsticks — but if you have culinary chopsticks on hand, you’ll go for them more than any other item. Even if you don’t have the special cooking chopsticks. A regular pair of eating chopsticks will suffice in a hurry. Making it the ideal compromise for a broke university student.

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