Chopsticks are such versatile implements. Once you get the hang of them, using anything else seems like a bit of an effort. The trick to becoming an expert is to simply move the top chopstick, which you hold as you would a pen. It's okay to move the bowl closer to your mouth as well, particularly with a smaller rice bowl.
For chopstick novices, here are my top tips if you're planning a trip to the land of the rising sun (or if you are simply planning to order from Sushiya):
Flip ends to serve. If you're eating family style, and you can't see any serving implements, don't stress. This is pretty standard. Simply flip your chopsticks over to the end you won't be putting in your mouth (usually the thicker end) to put food on your plate. It helps to save on washing up, too.
No stabbing. Don't stab your food with your chopsticks, and take care not to leave them standing up in your food. This symbolises death, so make sure you rest them next to a dish ( or get yourself some pretty ceramic chopstick rests).
- Chopsticks should never touch. Eating something delicious that your dining companion simply has to have a bite of? Don't pass the morsel from your chopsticks to theirs. At Japanese funerals, bone fragments are passed from chopstick to chopstick, so you'd never do this in the context of the dinner table. Pop it on their plate instead (with their permission, of course) or, if you have a super close relationship, into their mouth directly.
- Point elsewhere. Don't use your chopsticks to point at someone or something directly (it's not darts). If you tend to gesture wildly, pop the chopsticks down on your plate, with the thinner ends pointing left.
*Source: 'Japonisme'. Author: Erin Niimi Longhurst. Photo: @rawpixel