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why is it bad manners to stick your chopsticks in your rice?

I have a bad habit of doing this while I'm eating that I'm trying to break lol

PS. is it also bad to put them in other foods?


Thanks everyone, I learned to use chopsticks from my filipino friends when I was 6 or 7 and have been using them that way for years. I want to go to Japan someday so I'm changing my habits, I won't do this anymore :)

PS. since I posted this in the "Japan" section I didn't feel the need to specify that I was talking about a Japanese custom.

15 Answers

  • C
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Placing your chopsticks in a bowl with the ends sticking up is a no-no ☆in Japan as it as also part of the funeral ceremony.

    Take a look here at page 6 for other chopstick taboos.


    This is interesting too:

    I live in Japan and one of the first things my Japanese hubby taught me was NOT to leave my chopsticks sticking straight up in my bowl of rice, pass food from chopsticks to chopsticks...

    ♡Hope this helps!♡

  • ?
    Lv 4
    5 years ago

    I'm a Japanese. Following are the major manner of eating. Do not put up chopsticks in a rice bowl. This is the manner to serve the dead. Do not hand over the food from chopstick to chopstick. This is the manner to put the ashes in a bone pot. Do not use the chopstick other than eating. You must not play the bowl with chopsticks. The most of the foreigners here in Japan are way better than Japanese people when eating. So, don't worry about your manner other than above three. If you act something out of the manners, We'll kindly tell you and it's nothing shameful thing. In drinking Japanese manner for drinking is rather lose. You can be stoned and some other people help you make home. Enjoy drinking. In driving No particular manner other than you usually do but do not use horn too much. When you got an accident, don't worry about saying I'm sorry. It doesn't mean It's your fault. Treating neighbours When you move, you should introduce your self to the neighbours. Say good morning or hello when you see them. Don't make a loud noise in the night. when you borrow or be given something from your neighbours anything like soy source, sugar or cookie. Express the thanks to them with a small present later but not so soon. This is called 'Okaeshi' If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

  • Aaron
    Lv 4
    4 years ago


    Source(s): Make Great Portraits
  • 1 decade ago

    Bowls of rice with chopsticks sticking straight up in them are placed at graves as an offering or something. I don't think is polite to leave your chopstick in any food, you should place them next to your plate when not using them.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Simply speaking, it is because local taboo. No scientific reason but just sort of superstition. And you should know it, when in Rome do as the Romans do. The specific ground is as what wise cyn told you already.

    Sticking your chopsticks in any foods are same bad and unpleasant manner at least to Japanese in Japan as commonsense.

    You can handle and place your chopsticks whatever you want to do but will be also evaluated if anybody Japanese is there by return. That is culture.

  • Peace
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    I would agree with(Cyn) because of the way they are used in funeral services, and I have been to a few. At one funeral I went to, after the cremation was over people lined up on both sides of the cremation bed/gurney and one chopstick was given to each person on opposite sides and helped put the remains that were left over after the cremation in the urn. That's one reason you don't pass food chopstick to chopstick. It's done that way for cremation remains.

    Source(s): Peelman in Yokosuka
  • 1 decade ago

    It is bad because it is death related. This is one of the Chinese influences. In China people used to place incense sticks to honor, ask for help, and talk to relatives who crossed over which for just about all traditional Asians is deemed crass. Yup it is bad, do not do it unless you want to be reprimanded. Other related chopstick etiquette rules include no intention of stabbing food because it simulates stabbing a person. There are some instances where u can like with cherry tomatoes or fish balls. They also aren't used for playing, making noise, moving bowls, and tapping the sides of bowls. Also use serving chopsticks to move food from the platter to your bowl, it is usually in a different color. These are the universal rules but in some cultures their are others.

    (Chinese culture) Passing food to the family members especially the elderly is considered respectful. Most other rules are the most common or universal ones.

    (Taiwanese Culture). You may cut foods using chopsticks. Food must not be passed from chopstick to chopstick. They should be rested on a table rather than the usual sideways on the bowl. Never bite the them.

    (Japanese Culture) You should pass your plate if you want to give food. Transferring chopstick to chopstick was hos bones were moved. The chop sticks should be placed on a chopstick rest when not in use. If unavailable then folding of origami one is acceptable. Using the reverse end is bad manners. Never cross chopsticks as it symbolizes death. After you break wooden chopsticks apart never rub them together. It will insult the host by saying that you think it is cheap.

    (Korean Culture) Put chopsticks on the right of the spoon left sides are only used after someone died.

    (Vietnamese culture) Chopsticks are represented as a bad omen if used in a "V" position after eating.

    That is all I now.

    Source(s): Being Chinese I know a few things.
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Because when you stick your chopsticks in your rice or anything else, it means you are giving that food to the dead so it is not nice. unless you have a japanese relative that has died then it is ok.

    Source(s): I am Japanese
  • 1 decade ago

    Unless your planning on offering your food to the dead, its best to place them back on your chopstick rest or laid flat across your bowl toward one side. I wouldn't worry too much about it, though. My Taiwanese husband and his entire family do it all the time. Also, I've witnessed many Japanese friends making the same faux pas. However, if you do abide by the proper etiquette people will be impressed with you.

    *Btw, the question did not specify Japan and this is not only Japanese etiquette, it originated in China and was brought to other parts of Asia (namely, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan). The Taiwanese are not a different "race" and while there are cultural differences there are also similarities (partially due to the fact that Japan has borrowed a lot from Chinese culture and that Japan militarily occupied Taiwan from 1895-1945).

    Lastly, I'm not lying, I have seen two close Japanese friends in the US leave their chopsticks in their bowl on multiple occasions, I don't think I've seen this in public in Japan. If anyone is insulted by this, sorry but its the truth.

    RYokucHa, if you're going to imply I'm a lying hakujin onna (white woman) have the guts to say it in English so other viewers can see the prejudice you have lowered yourself to.

    rYokucHa: You make absolutely no sense:

    Stop being so ethnocentric and stop drawing conclusion that aren't there. Have the decency to refer to people without racial epithets like "china man" "white woman".

    This isn't just about Japan and no one made the comparison that if its ok with some Taiwanese families its ok to go to Japan and leave your chopsticks in your bowl, you're the only one doing that.

    The friends I'm referring to aren't ESL students; one works for a kaisha in Tokyo, but studied (grad school) in the states before that. The other is a close friend of my family.

    Lastly, stop insinuating things you know nothing about. Of course I've been to Japan, many times. I did a homestay with a family after college. How do you think I could read your cowardly and ignorant comments?

    Source(s): I'm a Japanese language teacher, grew-up with a Father her works in Sichuan, husband is Taiwanese
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The Japanese is reserved usually and particularly tolerant to minor mistakes by foreigners.


    Source(s): A japanese.
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