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April 8, 2005

Using Chopsticks Correctly

It seems that former and current Gaijin expats in Japan, such as Andrew McManama and GaijinBiker (via White Peril), are very irritated when locals point out their chopsticks proficiency. While I agree that it probably gets annoying over time (like when people are shocked when they find I speak fluent Cantonese), I think there's good reason for the locals to take notice.

Now I'm Chinese and my observed sample is overwhelming Chinese, so this probably has no bearing on what happens in Japan, but the truth is that many people who've used chopsticks for their whole lives have horrible technique. For example, I've seen:

From what I've seen, people who learn chopsticks later in life tend to have good techniques, because they actually learn the proper method. People who've used chopsticks their whole lives, on the other hand, may pick up bad habits that they never break.

So the next time you hear someone complimenting your chopsticks skills, it might not be putting you down, but rather the locals might be just a bit embarrassed that they're not that proficient themselves.

Posted by Kelvin at April 8, 2005 1:02 PM

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» A civil tongue from The White Peril 白禍
Can some of you people get it through your thick heads that civility is a value in its own right?

Just a second...something a little off about the tone there...[takes restorative gulp of plum-wine spritzer]...there we go.... [Read More]

Tracked on April 10, 2005 2:25 AM


That's a good point, Kelvin--it's one thing to be able to lobster-claw things into submission and convey them to the mouth, somehow, and another to use chopsticks with actual facility. I don't think I've ever seen anyone stick 'em in his bowl of rice as if he were a corpse at his own wake, but there are plenty of times people cheat.

Posted by: Sean Kinsell at April 10, 2005 4:02 AM

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