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Japanese Chopsticks : Chopsticks Used in Language and Education


Flipping through the Japanese dictionary, there are so many words related to hashi, (written 箸) or Japanese chopsticks, many that are relevant to chopstick manners: hashi-watashi, mayoi-yashi, hashibashi, namida-bashi, etc.

It is always safe to study Japanese chopsticks manners before entering the Japanese business society since Japanese chopsticks manners often are relevant to religion and certain gestures are offensive to those who understand the meaning.

There are many sayings using Japanese chopsticks as well: “weak chopsticks and weak men cannot make you eat” which is self-explanatory; “not holding anything heavier than chopsticks” means one has been born wealthy, spoiled and cherished the whole life that one is not eligible of working or doing anything than to bring chopsticks to the month. Japanese Chopsticks-related sayings are often times in relation to eating and wealth, as one cannot eat without having enough to provide for one’s self.

Despite the fact that chopstick is a simple utensil for eating, knowing the elegant use of chopstick is understood as a sign of a well-education person. Many private schools incorporate practicality tests of using chopsticks for entry examination of young children being tested for entering elementary schools.

Children are tests on how well they can hold chopsticks and also manage using chopsticks. There is even a kit sold for these children to practice picking up beans, dice, ohajiki (Japanese glass beads), etc. which are used in chopstick practicality tests.

By looking at how children handle chopsticks, teachers say that it reveals how children are disciplined at home and the way family communicates.

Japanese chopsticks are not just utensils for eating. It expresses a whole lot about the person using it. 

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