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How to Hold Chopsticks [Step by Step with Pictures]

Are you thinking about how to hold chopsticks? Chopsticks have been the most popular way to eat in East Asia for thousands of years because they are easy to use and can be used for many different things. If you’re used to using forks and knives to eat, it might take you a while to learn how to use chopsticks. Once you know how to hold them, though, it’s much easier to figure out how to use them. Start by putting the first chopstick on the inside edge of your ring finger and the webbing of your thumb on your dominant hand. Hold the second one like you would a pencil: between your index finger, middle finger, and thumb. This will let you move the one on top freely while keeping the one on the bottom still.

Chopsticks. No matter how good you are at using them or how scared you get when you have to, you will have to use them on your trip to Japan. Some restaurants may let you use a fork or spoon instead of chopsticks, but it’s best to be ready, as Japanese people use chopsticks to eat everything from rice and noodles to pizza and pasta. Even if you know how to hold chopsticks and use them to eat, there are rules about when and how to use them.

Here is a guide with simple steps on how to hold chopsticks, things to avoid, information about the history of chopsticks in Japan, and the differences between Japanese chopsticks and those from Korea and China.

What are Chopsticks?

What Are Chopsticks

Chopsticks, which are called “Hashi” in Japanese, are used to eat most meals in Japan. This is especially true of Japanese food. Which is almost always eaten with just chopsticks. Not only are chopsticks used to eat rice and side dishes. But they are also used to eating noodles like soba and udon.

What Dishes are Chopsticks Used for?

Most meals in Asian countries are eaten with chopsticks. That is why it’s important to know how to hold chopsticks. People will use chopsticks to eat rice, dumplings, noodles, and everything else. Soup is usually eaten with a big, deep spoon made of ceramic.

When rice isn’t sticky, it can be hard to eat it with chopsticks. Most places in Asia don’t mind if you lift your bowl to your mouth to make eating easier.

It’s not polite to poke food onto the sticks, so try not to do that. When you eat with chopsticks, you usually bring bigger pieces of food that would need to be cut to your mouth and eat them one at a time.

If you’re eating Japanese food with chopsticks, remember that most types of sushi are eaten with your hands. The only thing that is different is that you use chopsticks to eat sashimi.

How to Hold Chopsticks? 

How to Hold Chopsticks
Photo Credit: livejapan.com

1. Hold chopsticks with your dominant hand

Pick up the chopsticks from the table with whichever hand you’re more coordinated with, palm facing you. Put the hand you don’t use most often under the end of the chopsticks and gently squeeze them together. This will put them right next to each other so that they are parallel.

  • When you sit down at a normal table, your chopsticks will be laid out in front of you at an angle.
  • Most of the time, it’s easiest to pick up chopsticks with your first two or three fingers and your thumb.
  • Be careful not to make a lot of noise when you pick up the chopsticks. In quiet restaurants and more formal settings, this could be seen as rude.

2. Place your hand right around the top third of the chopsticks 

Use the hand you don’t use most to hold the chopsticks steady while you move the hand you use most. Hold both chopsticks together between your thumb and index finger until you’re ready to eat.

  • If you’re not sure where to put your hand, line up the top of the chopsticks with the tip of your thumb, then turn your hand over and hold the point closest to the base of your thumb.
  • If you hold the chopsticks with your hand too high or too low, it will be harder to use them correctly.

3. Rest the lower chopstick across the base of your thumb and ring finger

Set up your first chopstick so that the top part fits between your thumb and forefinger and the tip rests on the inside edge of your ring finger. Don’t move or change this chopstick once you have it where you want it.

  • Some native chopstick users like to put the bottom chopstick a little higher on their hand, right around the base of their forefinger.
  • When done right, the bottom chopstick should stay still and let the top one do all the work.

4. Grip the upper chopstick between your index finger, middle finger, and thumb

Now, take the second chopstick and move it between the top first knuckles of your index and middle fingers. Hold the chopstick’s inside edge with the pad of your thumb.

  • Make sure that the tips and tops of both chopsticks are pointing in the same direction.
  • This position of the hand should feel like how most people hold a pencil.

5. Keep your thumb from moving as much as possible 

Use the top of your thumb as a pivot point for the upper chopstick, giving it just enough pressure to turn against. The base’s only purpose is to hold the lower chopstick. If you try to use your thumb as part of the movement, you are more likely to trip over yourself.

  • Also, it’s important to keep your thumb straight and not let the knuckle bend.
  • Making sure your thumb stays put might seem hard, but in reality, it lets you worry about one less thing and focus on opening and closing the chopsticks.

How To Use Chopsticks In 3 Easy Steps?

Here’s a simple, 3-step guide with pictures on how to use chopsticks correctly. Learn how to hold chopsticks from the pros. Instructions for people who are right-handed and left-handed.

Follow our easy steps for how to eat with chopsticks, try out our practice tips, and read our etiquette tips, and you’ll be using chopsticks like a pro in no time.

How to Hold Chopsticks Quick Summary:

  • Put your thumb and ring finger around the bottom chopstick.
  • Then hold the top chopstick between your thumb, index finger, and middle finger.
  • Move only the one on top.

How to Use Chopsticks:

Step 1: Put the bottom chopstick in the valley between your thumb and index finger, across the side of the tip of your ring finger, and press with your thumb across the open middle.

Step 2: Hold the top chopstick in your hand like a pencil. Hold the stick lightly between your thumb pad and the tips of your index and middle fingers.

Step 3: Don’t move the first chopstick. Move the top chopstick and use it like a pair of tongs to grab food.

What is the correct way to hold chopsticks?

Ellen says that maybe there was a right way how to hold chopsticks a couple of generations ago, but that’s not really the case anymore. Ellen knows people who grew up using chopsticks as their main way to eat but don’t do it the way it’s meant to be done.

People usually use chopsticks in two main ways: the traditional way and the crossover way.

The traditional way to use chopsticks

The traditional way to use chopsticks

This is how chopsticks have always been used and how most people use them. The bottom chopstick rests in the crook between your thumb and forefinger. The top chopstick is held above, controlled by the index finger, and held like a pen.

To do this, hold the bottom chopstick like you would a pen. Then, slide the top chopstick on top and move your index finger’s grip from the bottom chopstick to the top chopstick. If you move your index finger up and down, you should see that the bottom chopstick stays (relatively) still while the top chopstick does all the work.

The crossover method

The crossover method Hold Chopsticks
Photo Credit: Etsystatic.com

Ellen says that some people find it easier how to hold chopsticks in a way called “crossover,” which is also socially acceptable. There is a back chopstick and a front chopstick in this method. While the front chopstick crosses in front of the food and controls it, the back chopstick stays still.

To try the crossover method, hold the back chopstick in place in the crook of your thumb and press the front one up against the pad of your ring finger. The front chopstick is then crossed over the top, and the fatter end is put on top of the fatter end of the back chopstick. Both the index and middle fingers are then used to control the front chopstick.

How to Use Chopsticks in Japan!

How to Use Chopsticks in Japan!
Photo Credit: Cloudfront.net

First, hold a single chopstick between your thumb and index finger like you would a pen. Here’s how to hold chopsticks on top. Despite this, try to move one of the chopsticks. I can move it up and down. Place the second chopstick so that it touches the side of your ring finger at the base, between your thumb and index finger.

Some points to consider:

  • The chopsticks should be held about a third of the way down.
  • Chopsticks should be held by your ring finger and your little finger.
  • Chopsticks should fit well in the hand.

How to Hold Chopsticks and Move Them in Japan

When you can hold both chopsticks, you can then try to move them. The first joint of the middle finger should hold up the top chopstick. When it’s held right, the tips should touch, but the other parts shouldn’t be touching.

In this position, move the top chopstick up and down with your right middle and index fingers. Try not to move the bottom chopstick this time. If you do it right, the chopstick tips should open and close.

How to make using chopsticks Easier?

No matter which way you find easiest to hold chopsticks or maybe you’ve come up with your own way! You do you, my friend!, there is one simple tip that will make your own life easier. So much easier.

It might sound like holding your chopsticks about three-quarters of the way up would make them harder to control, but it will actually help you keep a prawn from getting away. Holding your chopsticks higher, away from the end you use to pick up food, will give you more control and make it easier to pick up both big and small things.

Is there a rude way to hold chopsticks?

When it comes to good table manners and using chopsticks, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you don’t offend anyone you’re eating with.

In Chinese culture, it’s very important to never stick your chopsticks straight up into a bowl of rice. It might seem like a good place to put them so they don’t roll away, but you should never do this.

Ellen says that Chinese culture loves and relies on symbols in many ways. If you stand your chopsticks up in a bowl of rice, they look a lot like the incense holders you might see on a grave or altar in China for someone who has died. It would not only be rude to do this but it would also be seen as a very bad sign. Instead, put your chopsticks across the top of your bowl if you need to set them down for a moment. Chopstick rests are also a good choice, and you can find them in a lot of Chinese restaurants and homes.

Is it rude to use a fork?

You’ve tried the traditional way, the crossover way, and fiddled around to see if there’s another way to hold chopsticks that’s more comfortable, but it’s still not working. That’s ABSOLUTELY okay.

Ellen says it’s not embarrassing at all to ask for a fork. You’d be surprised by how many people do, and any Chinese restaurant will always have forks on hand. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how the good food gets from the plate to your mouth as long as you enjoy it.

Also, being brave enough to ask a waiter for a fork might be just what another person at the table needs to feel better about their chopsticks.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How to Hold Chopsticks 

What is the proper way to hold chopsticks?

First, hold the top chopstick about one-third of the way down from the top, like you would a pencil. Next, put the second chopstick against your ring finger and hold it with the base of your thumb. It should point in the same direction as the first one. Use your thumb, index finger, and middle finger to move the top chopstick.

Is there a wrong way to hold chopsticks?

Don’t hold the spoon and the chopsticks in the same hand. It seems impossible, but it’s rude to do so. And while it’s fine in China to bring your bowl to your mouth and push food in with chopsticks, it’s very rude in Korea to do this (and Japan).

Why is it so hard to use chopsticks?

Have you ever wondered why some people find it hard to use chopsticks? Unlike western tableware, chopsticks require the use of more than 50 muscles in the shoulder, arm, hand, and fingers. They also require the use of more than 80 joints. Chopsticks also use a lot of cranial nerves and help you get better at coordinating your eyes and hands.

Why are the ends of chopsticks flat?

The Korean blunt-tipped chopsticks have a larger surface area for holding food and scooping rice. A đũa cả is a large, flat chopstick using scooping the rice out of a pot.

Is it rude to stick chopsticks in rice?

Don’t stick your chopsticks into your food or rice when you’re eating with chopsticks, especially when you’re eating rice. In China, this is seen as a bad omen. People think this is bad luck because it looks like the incense that is burned at a funeral.

Why does holding chopsticks hurt?

Researchers say that using chopsticks puts stress on certain joints in the first, second, and third fingers. This could make osteoarthritis more likely in these joints.

Why do Koreans rub their chopsticks?

The chopsticks are joined together when you get them. So you have to break them apart before you can use them. Some people will rub the chopsticks hard against each other after breaking them apart to get rid of any small pieces of wood.

Is it rude to cross chopsticks?

People in China say that crossed chopsticks are a sign of death itself. Even though this may not be a sign of death in Japan. It is still considered bad manners to cross your chopsticks. Try to keep them parallel as much as possible, whether you’re holding them or putting them down.

What can’t you eat with chopsticks?

NEVER use your chopsticks to poke your food. Beans, whole-boiled eggs, and meat that is greasy and slippery are all examples. If you want to eat a boiled egg but can’t pick it up with your chopsticks, don’t stab or skewer it. Pick up a spoon or fork.

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