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Did You Know That the Japanese Normally Eat Sushi With Their Hands?

Bye, chopsticks!

If you’ve opened this article, then you, as well as I, have been misled when it comes to eating sushi. Or at least, when it comes to how sushi was originally meant to be eaten. Nowadays, when we go to Japanese restaurants, everyone seems to eat with chopsticks for everything: sushi, sashimi, rice, etc. But the greatest plot twist to this is that most Japanese people actually eat sushi with their hands. This is the way sushi was always meant to be eaten.

Eating sushi with your hands

explore, travel, did you know that the japanese normally eat sushi with their hands?

Image credit: Louis Hansel

I came upon this revelation while watching the YouTube channel of a Japanese mom who goes by the screenname worldofmama. In one episode, she prepares sushi with her two sons who are actually half-Filipino and love to eat sushi. Her son Stan says, “So we disinfect our hands and use our hands to eat, because Japanese people actually don’t use chopsticks to eat sushi.”

Yeah, when I heard that, my mind was blown. Despite the fact that I myself have been to Japan a few times now, this sushi eating etiquette was not something I noticed! (Don’t shoot me, please.) To fact-check this, I even asked my long-time friend, who also happens to be half-Japanese; she confirmed it saying that sushi was even considered fast-food back in the day. “The word ‘nigiri’ means held by hand or gripped,” she clarified about nigiri sushi.

Other revelations about sushi eating etiquette? Well, you’re only supposed to eat one whole sushi in one go. By that, I mean don’t take a bite and put a bitten sushi back on your plate; put the whole thing in your mouth and chew everything right away. Additionally, don’t overdo the dipping. That will force you to use chopsticks. “I think chopsticks became a necessity when American sushi variations led people to cover the raw fish with a lot of sauces. So it became too messy to be held by hand,” my Japanese friend told me.

For those of us who have grown up thinking Japanese food was only meant to be eaten with chopsticks, this information is almost life-changing. Turns out, it’s perfectly acceptable to eat sushi with your hands, especially in Japan. So when you find yourself eating sushi in Japan someday, don’t be shy. Eat with your hands!


Featured image credit: Vinicius Benedit | Unsplash

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