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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

How to Hold Chopsticks

How to Hold Chopsticks How to Hold Chopsticks How to Hold Chopsticks How to Hold Chopsticks How to Hold Chopsticks How to Hold Chopsticks How to Hold Chopsticks How to Hold Chopsticks

Chopsticks have been the go-to dining utensil in East Asia for thousands of years, thanks to their simplicity and versatility. If you’re used to using forks and knives to manipulate your food, you may have a tough time getting the hang of chopsticks at first. Once you understand the right way to hold them, however, mastering the mechanics becomes much easier. Start by resting the first chopstick along the inner edge of your ring finger and the webbing of your thumb on your dominant hand. Place the second one between your index finger, middle finger, and thumb, the way you would hold a pencil. This will allow you to move the top chopstick freely while keeping the bottom one fixed in place.


[Edit]Positioning the Chopsticks Correctly

  1. Pick up the chopsticks with your dominant hand. Use whichever hand you’re more coordinated with to pluck the chopsticks up from the table, with the back of your hand facing you. Place your non-dominant hand beneath the tip end of the chopsticks and squeeze them together gently. This will line them up so that they’re perfectly parallel with one another.[1]
    Hold Chopsticks Step 1 Version 3.jpg
    • On a standard table setting, your chopsticks will be lying side-by-side in front of you at a horizontal angle.
    • It’s usually easiest to pick up your chopsticks using your first 2 or 3 fingers and thumb.
    • Be careful not to let the chopsticks clack together loudly as you pick them up. Doing so might be considered rude in quiet eateries and more formal settings.
  2. Place your hand right around the top third of the chopsticks. Use your non-dominant hand to steady the chopsticks as you adjust the placement of your dominant hand. Hold both chopsticks together in the crook between the base of your thumb and index finger until you’re ready to dig in.[2]
    Hold Chopsticks Step 2 Version 3.jpg
    • If you’re not sure exactly where to place your hand, align the top of the chopsticks with the tip of your thumb, then turn your hand over and grip the point nearest to the base of your thumb.
    • Having your hand too high or too low on the chopsticks will make it harder to manipulate them properly.[3]
  3. Rest the lower chopstick across the base of your thumb and ring finger. Arrange your first chopstick so that the upper part is nestled in the crevice between your thumb and forefinger and the tip end is lying against the inner edge of your ring finger. Once you’ve got this chopstick where you want it, avoid moving or adjusting it.[4]

    • Some native chopstick users prefer to place their bottom chopstick a little higher up on the hand, right around the base of the forefinger.
    • When used correctly, the bottom chopstick should remain stationary, allowing the top chopstick to do all the work.[5]
  4. Grip the upper chopstick between your index finger, middle finger, and thumb. Now, take the second chopstick and shift it between the top first knuckles of your index and middle fingers. Brace the inner edge of the chopstick with the pad of your thumb.[6]

    • Make sure both chopsticks are pointing in the same direction, with the tips and top ends evenly aligned.
    • This hand position should feel similar to the one that most people use to hold a pencil.[7]
  5. Keep your thumb from moving as much as possible. Use the top of your thumb as a fulcrum for the upper chopstick, providing just enough counter-pressure for it to rotate against. The base is there to cradle the lower chopstick and nothing more. Attempting to incorporate your thumb into the movement will just make you more likely to trip yourself up.[8]

    • It’s also important to keep your thumb straight, rather than allowing it to bend at the knuckle.
    • Making sure your thumb stays put may seem complicated, but in reality, it gives you one less thing to worry about and lets you focus your attention on working the chopsticks open and closed.

[Edit]Controlling Your Chopsticks

  1. Open and close the chopsticks with your first two fingers. To open the chopsticks, lift your index and middle fingers in unison. To close them, simply press down again. The chopstick should feel like an extension of both fingers.[9]

    • If you’re having trouble picking up food this way, try adjusting your grip slightly so that the pad of your middle finger is bracing the bottom chopstick on the opposite side of your thumb.[10]
    • Only the tips of the chopsticks should move. The tops should stay where they are, or come slightly closer to each other without actually touching.
  2. Keep a firm grip on both chopsticks to keep them from shifting. If necessary, pause for a moment and use your non-dominant hand to reset both chopsticks, remembering to lay the bottom one across your ring finger and the base of your thumb and keep the top one poised like a pencil. The further up or down your chopsticks slide, the more difficult it will become to use them.
    Hold Chopsticks Step 7 Version 3.jpg
    • Hold your chopsticks securely, but don’t squeeze them. This will just tire out your hand and cause your technique to deteriorate.
    • Wooden and bamboo chopsticks tend to be better for beginners, since they offer a little more traction against your hand and one another.[11]
  3. Maintain gentle pressure on the top chopstick to hold onto your food. Open your chopsticks and clamp them down on a bite-sized piece of whatever you're eating. As you raise the bite to your mouth, concentrate on pressing down lightly on the upper chopstick. This will keep the food pinned between the top and bottom chopsticks, ensuring that it doesn't go anywhere.[12]
    Hold Chopsticks Step 8 Version 3.jpg
    • Like anything else, becoming proficient with chopsticks just takes practice. Try moving foods of various shapes, sizes, and textures from one bowl to another slowly. This fun exercise will help you get the fundamentals down.
    • Remember, the bottom chopstick is just there to provide support from beneath. The top chopstick is the one that should be doing all of the work.[13]
  4. Reverse the opening-closing motion to tear food into smaller pieces. Bring the tips of your chopsticks together and stick them into broadest part of the food. Then, pull them apart with enough force to separate the food into two pieces. Keep in mind that this alternative "cutting" method will only work on softer varieties of food.[14]

    • Traditional Asian dishes typically contain meats, vegetables, and grains that have already been reduced to a size suitable for chopsticks. Certain foods like tempura and whole fish, however, may need to be broken up in order to be made more manageable.
    • In casual dining settings, it's also usually acceptable to take bites off of large pieces of food rather than tearing or cutting them.

[Edit]Learning Proper Chopstick Etiquette

  1. Never stick your chopsticks straight up in a bowl of rice. This may seem like a harmless way of getting them to stay put, but it’s a cardinal sin when it comes to chopstick use in Japan and many other Asian countries. The reason for this is because at Japanese funeral ceremonies, it’s customary for the family of the deceased to place a pair of chopsticks vertically in a bowl of rice and leave it as an offering to the spirit of their departed loved one.[15]
    Hold Chopsticks Step 10 Version 3.jpg
    • Similarly, crossing your chopsticks in an “X” shape represents death in Chinese culture.[16]
    • Since behaviors that remind your hosts or the people around you of death are thought to bring bad luck, they’re sure to put a damper on the mood of the meal.
  2. Always use both chopsticks at the same time. Resist the urge to push your food around or spear stubborn bites with the point of one of your chopsticks, no matter how much difficulty you’re having getting used to them. Chopsticks come in pairs for a reason. They’re meant to be used for picking up food and nothing more.[17]

    • In some countries, even holding your chopsticks separately in different hands is considered a faux pas.
  3. Avoid laying your chopsticks across your plate or bowl unless you’re done. Placing your chopsticks across your eating dish is a signal that you don’t want any more. Many restaurants provide chopstick rests so that their diners can set their chopsticks down when they’re not using them. If there are no chopstick rests handy, rest your chopsticks on the sleeve they came in or position them neatly along the left edge of your dish.[18]
    Hold Chopsticks Step 12 Version 3.jpg
    • By the same token, leaving your chopsticks crossed on your plate or bowl shows a lack of concern for custom. It also makes them more likely to roll off the dish, or even the table.[19]
  4. Try not to gesture with your chopsticks or point them at other people. If you have a tendency to talk with your hands or feel the need to act out something you’re saying, be sure to put down your chopsticks before doing so. Imagine how you would feel if someone were to jab a fork at you while making a point![20]
    Hold Chopsticks Step 13 Version 3.jpg
    • This should go without saying, but it’s also a pretty big no-no to drum on the table, conduct an invisible symphony, imitate a walrus, or act out a mock sword fight with your chopsticks. Remember, they’re tools, not toys.[21]
  5. Move dishes with your hands, not your chopsticks. When you need to rearrange plates, bowls, or other dining ware, use your free hand rather than scooting or dragging the items across the table with your chopsticks. Otherwise, you risk insulting your hosts by using their utensils for something other than their intended purpose.[22]

    • If you need to pass or relocate an especially large, heavy, or cumbersome dish, play it safe and set your chopsticks down so you can use both hands.
    • In China and some other Asian countries, banging bowls with chopsticks is a behavior associated with beggars, which means you’ll also inadvertently be dealing a blow to your own dignity.
  6. Don’t eat or take food from the serving dish with your personal chopsticks. Move the food to your plate with the serving chopsticks or other serving utensils provided. Then, use your own chopsticks to eat from your own dish. That way, you won’t have touched everyone else’s food with utensils that have been in your mouth.[23]
    Hold Chopsticks Step 14 Version 3.jpg
    • Another blunder to watch out for while serving yourself is digging around in the serving dish for the best looking pieces or your favorite ingredients. That’s just selfish.[24]
    • Sticking your chopsticks in a communal dish is unsanitary, as it increases the risk of cross-contamination, but it may also come across as disrespectful if your fellow diners don’t know that you aren’t aware of the rule.



  • To determine what size chopsticks are best suited for your hand, measure the distance between your outstretched thumb and forefinger in centimeters, then multiply this measurement by 1.5. The number you get will tell you how long your ideal chopsticks should be, which could make practicing easier.[25]
  • If you just can’t hold onto anything to save your life, consider swallowing your pride and picking up a pair of trainer chopsticks, which are connected at the top by a small plastic joint. Eating a few meals with these will give you a feel for the motion that the upper chopstick is supposed to make.[26]
  • In Japan, it's customary to hold chopsticks with your right hand, even if you happen to be left-handed.


  • If you’re planning a visit to a place where chopsticks are the utensil of choice, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with other points of etiquette and taboos related to the use of chopsticks to avoid offending your hosts or the other diners around you.
  • Smooth, round chopsticks like those made from plastic or metal are especially prone to rolling, sliding, and crossing over one another, so watch out.


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