Is it Rude to Eat With Your Hands in Japan?

We’ve all seen anime movies where Japanese cartoon characters shovel food into their mouths, usually with chopsticks, though occasionally with their bare hands.

But, is it actually ok to eat with your hands in Japan? Or, is eating with your bare hands and fingers considered as rude as it is in Western nations?

Is it Rude to Eat With Your Hands in Japan?

Believe it or not, eating with your hands in Japan is no big deal. It isn’t rude at all. In fact, traditionally the majority of the population eats with their hands.

That said, for the past few centuries, in Japan, the use of chopsticks is becoming more and more commonplace. 

Eating food with your hands, however, is still widely practiced and isn’t frowned upon. It is better to eat with your hands, in Japan, than it is to ask for a spoon or fork (in most cases). 

Japan is a rapidly evolving nation, and society and their eating etiquette seem to become more and more westerner-friendly each passing year.

How Rude Is it?

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On a scale of 1 to 10, to eat with your hands in Japan rates 1 on the rude meter. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, eating with your hands in Japan is no big deal whatsoever.

The only exception to this rule is eating sashimi, which chopsticks are traditionally used for, not your hands. 

Why is it Not Rude?

Eating with your hands in Japan isn’t considered rude in the slightest because it is tradition. The people of this country have always eaten meals with their hands in this proud Island nation. 

Today, however, more and more Japanese people are teaching their children to eat with chopsticks rather than their hands. 

That is not to say, though, that people don’t still eat with their hands quite often; because they surely do.

Common Questions

What is rude dinner table etiquette in Japan?

The main things you don’t want to do while eating in Japan unless you want to be seen as rude, are burping or farting at the table, chewing loudly, and blowing your nose. It is also rude to reach into shared food dishes with anything other than the opposite end of your chopsticks (to move food to your plate).

How to eat politely in Japan?

Eating politely in Japan is a bit different than in other Asian cultures. For example, you should only use your hands and chopsticks, rather than a spoon or fork. Even soup is eaten with chopsticks only. Further, you should never lift your food higher than your mouth, or attempt to catch food that slips from your chopsticks or out of your hands.

Is finishing all your food offensive in Japan?

Unlike many Asian cultures, finishing all your food isn’t offensive in Japan, it is simply a sign that you aren’t full and would like another serving. If you are full and do not wish to eat anymore, you should leave a bite or two of food in your dishes to signal this message to the host(s).