I asked a very good friend of mine who is from Japan if she could give me her view, advice, tips and reasons behind the Japanese etiquette of chopsticks and this is what she said:
Here are some tips I received when I was a child.
Do not stab food with your chopsticks. Only pinch, support, and carry with the chopsticks
Do not stick your chopsticks in a bowl of rice. Allowed only for the decoration of dead peoples dinner.
When someone tries to give you food with his or her chopsticks, do not take it with yours, use a plate
Do not play air drums with your chopsticks, do not bang them on plates or bowls either.
Do not point at people with your chopsticks.
Do not use your chopsticks to move plates or bowls.
Do not hold your chopsticks with your mouth.
Do not bite or chew them.
Another etiquette on the table is to finish all the food on your plate. Because is has ties with Shinto’s belief that “all objects have souls”.
I remember that my mother was strict, not to leave any rice in the bowl, which means each grain of rice has a soul with a great annual effort form the farmer. You can imagine that it wasn’t easy to pick up each rice by the chopstick for the little child.
I personally love the story about each grain of rice having a soul, some traditions are so deep and with that I think we respect them more. I shall certainly think twice about leaving a little guy in the bowl in future and think that my children will enjoy the history behind it, clean plates all around….
Now, where did I leave my chopsticks…..