Is it Rude to Not Use Chopsticks in Japan?

If you are planning on spending any real amount of time in the country of Japan, you will most definitely need to learn to use chopsticks.

But, what if you just don’t have a knack for them? Is it rude to not use chopsticks in Japan? Even if you aren’t from there? 

Read on below and find out the truth of the matter!

Is it Rude to Not Use Chopsticks in Japan?

Eating in Japan is a favorite pastime, as it is in most civilized nations. That said, in Japan, you will need to use chopsticks while you eat.

Whether you are at work on lunch, with a friend for brunch, or being hosted for dinner at someone’s house, you must use chopsticks in Japan. 

If you do not use chopsticks while eating in Japan, you will be seen as rude, period. It is ok to not be particularly skillful with them… but, it is not ok to not at least try to use them.

How Rude Is it?


In Japan, not using your chopsticks while eating rates 10 out of 10 on the rude meter. Japanese culture doesn’t mess around; when you are eating, you are using chopsticks and that’s all she wrote.

Anyone not using chopsticks while dining in Japan is bound to be seen as rude by the locals. Even your family and friends may find it rude.

Why is it Rude?

The proud Japanese culture demands that meals be eaten with chopsticks. To do otherwise is to dishonor oneself, and indeed everyone else present. That means you couldn’t get much ruder if you tried.

Other Options to Do Instead

In Japan, you need to use chopsticks, period. That said, there are a few other options that you can keep in mind:

  • Explain to your hosts that you are chopstick-impaired
  • Try to use the chopsticks even though you suck at it
  • Ask if there is a fork and knife that you can use instead
  • Suffer through the meal with your bare hands
  • Don’t eat at all (if it isn’t with chopsticks)

Common Questions

Are chopsticks necessary in Japan?

In the Asian nation of Japan, chopsticks are an absolute must when it comes to eating. Anything besides soup needs to be eaten with chopsticks. Even if you aren’t good with chopsticks, you can attempt to use them.

Is it rude to eat without chopsticks?

It is rude to eat with chopsticks in certain countries around the world, like Japan. No matter what you do, while eating in Japan, try and use your chopsticks. Even if you ask for a fork, you should do so only after displaying a complete lack of ability to properly use chopsticks.

Is it rude to use chopsticks in rice?

It is not rude to use chopsticks in rice if you are in Japan. What is rude to do is stick your chopsticks in the bowl of rice vertically. Always stick your chopsticks down into the bowl of rice from the top, while eating in Japan. Otherwise, it is similar to an aspect of Japanese funerals (where a bowl of rice is left for the dead with chopsticks sticking into the side of it, vertically).