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Tweet of the Week #87: Only 30% of Japanese People Hold Their Chopsticks Properly

See, us gaijin aren't the only ones!

By 4 min read

Do you consider yourself a chopstick ninja, picking grains of rice with your o-hashi like a pro? Well, you might need to reevaluate your skills, especially if you’ve been told by a Japanese person you how jouzu you are. Turns out, they may not actually know what they’re talking about!

In 2012, a survey conducted by Mejiro University revealed that only about 30% of Japanese men and women from their 30s to 50s correctly hold their chopsticks. What’s worse, the researchers also noticed that the proportion of people knowing where to correctly place their fingers is decreasing year after year.

I know it’s bad, but the right way to hold them has always been super annoying.

Children are taught to hold their chopsticks by their parents. However, the proper way to hold them (according to older generations) doesn’t feel easy or natural and requires training our fingers and hand muscles. Before even learning how to hold them, you actually have to know how to choose the right pair of chopsticks for your hand size. The path to chopstick mastery is like a combination of sport & mathematics.

How to (correctly) hold your chopsticks

First, you must know exactly where to place your fingers, starting with the upper chopstick.

Hold it about one-third of the way from the top like you would a pencil (of course, that involves knowing how to hold a pencil in the first place). To grab food, you only need to move the upper chopstick with your thumb, index, and middle fingers.

The lower chopstick goes against your ring finger and is held by the base of your thumb.

(Chopstick)picked tweets

The debate on how many Japanese know how to hold their chopstick (and should we really care? 46,8% of Japanese are in favor of being tolerant) is still going strong years later after the survey.

Earlier this year, the results resurfaced on Twitter, when Chicago Cubs pitchers Darvish shared how he holds chopsticks on video.

ちなみにおれはしかた

よくないのはわかるんやけど、「ただしい持ち方」ってのがむかしから使つかいづらすぎるねん。

これが令和れいわのスタンダード。

=

“By the way, here’s the way I hold chopsticks. I know it’s bad, but the right way to hold them has always been super annoying. This is the Reiwa era standard.”

Weeks later, the #箸の持ち方 buzzed once more.

Artsy

みんなは写真しゃしんのような正しい箸の持ち方できるよね?

わたしはできない。

=

“Everyone can correctly hold their chopsticks like in these pictures, right? I can’t.”

These screenshots were taken from one of comedian Kentaro Kobayashi’s hilarious video series on Japanese traditions.

Wolverine style

You probably won’t be able to eat that way.

https://twitter.com/DVtaiyou/status/1275347637814784000?s=20

箸の1番いちばんカッコイイ持ち方

=

“The coolest way to hold chopsticks”

Chopstick ju-jitsu

https://twitter.com/ganbarimuscle/status/1275288888055980032?s=20

箸の持ち方が話題わだいになっているみたいですね

=

“Looks like the way to hold chopsticks is becoming a trending topic.”

Table manners

https://twitter.com/kofuwakkuma/status/1275357101976457222?s=20

まいど!こふわっくまです〜ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ

#箸の持ち方 がトレンドりしてるなー。

そういえばちょっとまえにおちゃんとコツメきみがお箸でバトってたなー。https://youtu.be/xI_7SNZ_jzs

かっこよかったし、ぼくも箸の持ち方練習れんしゅうしちゃおかな!?

あ!持たれへんわʕ•ᴥ•ʔ

ほなまたー

=

“Hey! It’s Kofuwakkuma.

How to hold chopsticks started trending. By the way, a little while ago, my brother and Kotsume were playing with chopsticks. It was cool! Should I practice how to hold chopsticks too?! Ah! I cannot hold them!

See you later!”

Expressing “hard to do” with にくい, づらい, and がた

The Japanese language relies on a lot of prefixes and suffixes to add nuances to other words and verbs. Knowing them will help you hold more complex conversations. When you want to express that an action is hard to do, you can use the three suffixes にくい, づらい and 難い. All three are attached to verbs’ stem minus the ます form.

The first one, にくい is quite basic and probably the first you’ll learn in class. にくい refers to an objective difficulty, or external reason, for something to be difficult to do.

この地図ちずはわかりにくいです = this map is difficult to understand

The suffix づらい, however, refers to how an action is mentally or physically difficult for you. In other words, doing the action is somehow stressful for the speaker.

お箸は使いづらいです = chopsticks are hard to use (for me)

Finally, the suffix 難い has very limited usage, specific to people’s understanding and feeling. You can only use 難い with verbs such as to agree, to imagine, to believe, to forgive, to approve, to admit, to forget.

理解りかいし難い = hard to understand

So, are you a chopstick master or do you need to go back to school? Let us know in the comment!

Vocabulary

Japanese Romaji English
ちなみに chinami ni by the way
はしかた hashi no mochikata way to hold chopstick
よくない yokunai not good
わかる wakaru understand
けど kedo but
ただしい tadashii correct
むかしから mukashi kara from long ago
使つかいづらすぎる tsukaidurasugiru too hard to use
できる dekikru can
1番いちばん ichiban most
カッコイイ kakkoii cool
話題わだいになる wadai ni naru to become a topic
トレンドりする torendoiri suru start to trend
そういえば souieba by the way
ちゃん o ni chyan brother
練習れんしゅうする renshyuu suru train
地図ちず chizu map
がた gatai hard to do (suffix)
にくい nikui hard to do (suffix)
づらい du*rai (*pronounce dzu) hard to do (suffix)
理解りかいする rikai suru understand

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