chopsticks taboos in Japan



Introduction of chopsticks taboos in Japan.

When you imagine Japanese food, I am sure chopsticks are always come into your mind as a part of cuisine. Not many of you (even Japanese people) know there are taboos to avoid using chopsticks called “嫌い箸” /kirai bashi/ disliked chopsticks, “忌み箸” /imi bashi/ taboo chopsticks, or ” 禁じ箸” /kinji bashi/ forbidden chopsticks.

If you practice taboo chopsticks in a important occasion, you might have a trouble with the relationship in business scene. I am go through 12 chopsticks taboos in Japanese culture and explain the reasons to avoid for some chopsticks taboos in Japan.

12 chopsticks taboos in Japanese culture.


1. 叩き箸 /tataki bashi/ beating chopsticks kiraibashi01_tatakibashi

An action of beating the bowl with chopsticks. Many kids tend to do this, but when your kids do this, please stop them to do.

Reason to avoid:

The sound of “clink” causes someone unconfortable and annoyed in the restaurant becasue the action and the sound are used when call someone or play as instruments.

2. 刺し箸 /sashi bashi/ stubbing chopsticks


An action of stubbing food with chopsticks. Japanese cuisine often contains something smooth and hard to hold with the chopsticks such as beans and konjak.

 3. 指し箸 /sashi bashi/ pointing chopsticks


An action of pointing sometime with chopsticks. This is very rude for the person who is pointed. The pronunciation of this chopsticks taboo is same as above stubbing chopsticks.


4. 探り箸 /saguri bashi/ searching chopsticks


An action of searching favorite ingredients in the meal.

5. 立て箸 /tate bashi/ standing chopsticks


An action of standing chopsticks on the rice bowl. It is also called ‘仏箸’ (lit., buddha chopsticks).

Reason to avoid:

Literary it means Buddha chopsticks or dead people chopsticks. In Japan we call dead people as “仏 hotoke (buddha)” sometimes. Standing chopsticks are ritual for dead people as a offering. This chopsticks taboo is the worst one to act.

6. かみ箸 /kami bashi/ biting chopsticks


An action of biting chopsticks. You might see sometimes kids do this, but this is a taboo.

7. ねぶり箸 /neburi bashi/ licking chopstics


An action of licking chopsticks. It just looks dirty.


8. 渡し箸 /watashi bashi/ bridging chopsticks


An action of putting chopsticks on the plates or bowls. There are a chopsticks stand in regular restaurants, but Izakaya (dining bar) and local casual restaurants do not have chopsticks stands. In case, you need to create one with the paper packet.


9. 寄せ箸 /yose bashi/ pulling chopsticks


An action of pulling plates or bowls with the chopsticks.


 10. 迷い箸 /mayoi bashi/ wondering chopsticks


An action of wondering the food with chopsticks.


11. 箸渡し /hashi watashi/ passing chopsticks


An action of passing food or holding food with two chopsticks.

Reson to avoid

In Japan, cremation is a common in funeral, and remains are picked with chopsticks into urn. In this cremation process, chopsticks are used to pass and hold by few people. アThe action Passing chopsticks are alike to this cremation process, so it is avoided.


12. なみだ箸 /namida bashi/ crying chopsticks


An acton of dropping source and eating.  Many Japanese food are watery or dipping into some kind of sources, such as sushi with soy source, ramen, soba, udon, nimono, etc… dropping source is just dirty.

Many of you already knew the well known chopsticks taboos, such as standing chopsticks and passing chopsticks but there are more taboos. In this post, I introduced only 12 chopsticks taboos in Japan, but there are more taboos exist. When you are in Japan or Japanese restaurants, please avoid these taboos not to be embarrassed or rude.

All illustrations are from

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