Chopsticks in Japanese culture

Japanese culture

Local Shitamachi tokyo tour concierge : Satomi who have worked as a Japanese teacher.

How to place the chopsticks in Japan?

Don’t you place vertically?

It is important to how to place the chopstics.

How to place the chopsticks?

Place the chopsticks so that the handle is on the right side in the foreground. Even if you are left-handed people, do not change the direction of chopsticks.

Why place the chopsticks so that the handle is on the right side in the foreground?

Because chopsticks make a barrier for afterlife and this world.

”chopsticks” is called 箸(hashi) in Japanese that shares the same sound as “bridges” which is also pronounced as 橋(hashi) in Japanese. ”Chopsticks” is a metaphor for “bridges”橋, as the Japanese ideology has believed that spirit and life reside in everything in the universe since the ancient time. That belief has been equipped in the chopsticks. Thus, the chopsticks also refer to a “barrier” that separates the two worlds, the world of spirit and the world of being. With this belief, we can interpret the body of the chopstick as the bridge that links the pole of the natural spirit world (God’s realm), and the pole of the human world”.

When Japanese cook food, they proceed it with the consciousness of dedicating it to “God”, and after “God” eats it, they take chopsticks, remove the barrier, and have the food.

It is also a tribute to the spirit world of nature when the chopsticks are picked up for the first time after putting your hands together and saying “Itadaki-masu”.

For the first time after mourning the spirit, pick up chopsticks, break the barrier, and bring sacred food to your mouth.

And placing chopsticks vertically is bad manner because it is rude to point the tip of a sharp chopstick at someone who shares the table.

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