Japanese Chopsticks Usage

THEY improv is a leader in training and bonding for multi-national companies and provides improv comedy, game shows and murder mystery dinners for entertainment options for a variety of groups and gatherings for their corporate meetings and incentives event, private parties, team building workshops and banquets in Japan. This includes in Tokyo, Kyoto, Yokohama, Osaka, Fukuoka and the rest of the country.

For American companies or expats having corporate events, banquets or private parties in Japan, knowing how not to insult our hosts with improper usage of Japanese chopsticks can be quite important.

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they improv JapaneseCultural understanding has always been a major sticking point when conducting business internationally. Unlike working in Europe, where a lot of the nuances of culture can be relatively close, the differences often outweigh the similarities. Understanding the differences can mean whether or not your company will succeed in the country!

While chopsticks are used throughout the region, each country has its own cultural sensitivity as to their use and the meanings of certain activities. While in the United States certain habits have become normalized, performing our own rituals can result in insulting our hosts or even reflecting poorly upon yourself and your company.

First, you are not a member of the Beatles! And if you were, you wouldn't want to be Ringo! You shouldn't use Japanese chopsticks as drumsticks! It is insulting to your hosts, juvenile in action, and is actually an activity conducted by beggars as a way to beg for food. This puts you in the position of making people think that you are demanding as well as a member of the lower classes. None of ths is a good thing for conducting business.

Second, don't rub Waribashi together. In the US, disposable wooden chopsticks are often rubbed together to smooth the surface and to remove potential splinters. This is considered an insult to the restaurant implying that they would use the cheapest possible utensils.

Third, though it should be logical for anyone, don't touch food that you are not going to take. After all, you eat from the chopsticks and so if you touch something that someone else might eat, it would be a bad thing to do. Of course, it's also an insult to lick, suck or otherwise touch the actual sticks with your mouth. You should grab the item brought to your mouth with your teeth and not really touch the sticks themselves. This can't always be done, but less touching is considered more of a sign of class.

Fourth, don't pass food by using your chopsticks. Even worse, don't pass them directly from your chopsticks to another set being used by someone else. If you must pass them, set the food item in front of them on their plate for them to then pick up. Better is to allow them to take it directly from your plate untouched by you.

Fifth, do not poke your food. The proper use is to use the chopsticks to pick up food the proper way, and not by cheating by stabbing the food. They aren't knives, they are a cultural tool showing a degree of class.

Sixth, do not cross the sticks when you lay them down and don't leave them standing in your food, especially rice. Crossing them is somehow unclean, which is only a small problem. It is generally seen as bad manners. Leaving them standing up is something that is done in rituals where incense is burned and offerings or remembrances are made to the deceased.

Understanding the needs of our hosts and working to better show consideration for our differences can make all of the difference when conducting business abroad. We hope that this page will help you in this effort and we look forward to seeing you at an event.

THEY improv is proud to serve all of Japan including Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Yokohama as well anywhere else you can think of, though some of the more remote areas would likely result in added costs.

THEY can help companies of every sort, from administrative to the government agencies to tourism related businesses such as hotels and resorts. THEY do so by consulting from our base and providing skilled facilitators in Japan to meet your particular needs.

Contact us by email at info@theyimprovasia.com or by calling 866.219.4386 if in the US or +1 786.543.9472 if not.

Here are some useful local links:
Government Website
Tourism Website
Chamber of Commerce