Is it Rude To Rub Chopsticks?

Chopsticks take the place of forks in many cultures around the world, particularly in major Asian countries like China and Japan.

That’s why it pays to practice eating with chopsticks before visiting such places… you will not be offered a fork.

Is it rude to rub chopsticks together? Read on below and find out the truth!

Is it Rude to Rub Chopsticks?

In Japan and China, rubbing chopsticks together is seen as a direct insult to the host. By rubbing your chopsticks together, or breaking them apart, you are insinuating that the host has provided you with cheap chopsticks (which is insulting).

How Rude Is it?

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On a scale of 1 to 10, rubbing chopsticks together in Asia rates 8 or rudeness. The only reason rubbing chopsticks doesn’t rate 10 out of 10 is that most people rubbing them together don’t know any better (and sometimes, it is actually necessary to break them apart). However, this doesn’t lower the level of insult the host feels.

Why is it Rude?

While visiting Asian countries that eat with chopsticks, such as Japan and China, rubbing your chopsticks at the table is rude, period. If you must rub them or break them apart in order to use them properly, do so to the side of the table, or under the table, but never directly over or on the table. 

Other Options to Do Instead

If you have no choice but to break your chopsticks apart in order to use them properly, do so under the table where no one notices, or to the side of the table where the hosts see that you are at least being polite enough to not do so over the table. You can also apologize for not having mastered chopstick skills to ease the mood (as rubbing chopsticks is often upsetting to the host).

Common Questions

What is disrespectful when using chopsticks?

Sometimes chopsticks are cheap quality and have splinters in them which make the utensils uncomfortable to hold. In this case, you may need to run them together a bit so that the splinters fall off. That said, doing so in plain sight is like slapping the host in the face and scolding them for giving you cheap chopsticks.

Is rubbing chopsticks together rude in China?

Yes, rubbing your chopsticks together in China is considered extremely rude. Even if your chopsticks are stuck together, or full of splinters, you should try to use them as is. If you can not use them, hold them to the side of the table, or under it, and break them apart or rub them together out of sight (and not over the table).

Is it rude to twirl chopsticks?

Twirling chopsticks is generally not seen as a rude action. However, twirling these utensils does show your host(s) that you are far away from mastering the art of eating food with chopsticks. For this reason, it is wise to practice eating with chopsticks for days, weeks, or even months prior to heading off to China, Japan, or elsewhere you’ll be eating with chopsticks.