Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com

View topic - Chopstick Embarrassment...

Chopstick Embarrassment...

Japanese, general discussion on the language

Chopstick Embarrassment...

Postby Shiroisan » Mon 04.16.2012 9:48 pm

So, you know how many Japanese people are under the belief that some foreigners must not be able to use chopsticks well at all. Well I'm actually one of those 外人。 :blush: This was very embarrassing as I didn't want to be the stereotype but I thoroughly am. My Japanese language teacher (who is Japanese) went out for dinner with some students (including myself) at an authentic Japanese restaurant... A horror story ensues:

The first dish arrives to be passed around at the table; Take 1 pass it down. I was the first who was supposed to take one, so everyone was hungrily watching... I 'grab' it, it doesn't move and my chopsticks slip away. I laugh and try again. This time it flops over 90 degrees and still slips :neutral: . Next it actually gets off the plate but falls back down. After another try or so, I think 'screw this :hand: ', try stabbing it instead and I finally drag it off the plate onto mine. itadakimasu :pray:...

Next tray arrives and it's a party sushi tray. I'm thinking 'alright, those huge pieces shouldn't be too hard to grab'. I try and it slips. I try and it slips. I try and it slips. I try and it slips. :evil: I TRY AND IT SLIPS :evil: :evil: I TRY AND IT SLIPS. 'Ok, so I'm clearly just not pinching hard enough'. I try to pince with more might and I end up slicing through the whole thing in half which quickly crumbles apart and goes everywhere across the tray. At this point there's nothing I can say to the party but ごめんなさい!
ごめんなさい... :sweatdrop:

I get noodle soup. :D *やった!チャンスだよ!* I grab the huge spoon/ladle and start eating, like no problem bros! :whistle: . However, I quickly look around and see that everyone else is eating the noodles with their chopsticks even though it's freaking soup! :neutral: I supposed that the ladle was only to drink the left over liquid, so I switched back to chopsticks for one final try. I didn't realize my chopsticks were stuck under a mound of noodles, so when I went to pick it up, the extra force of the chopsticks flicking out from underneath the noodles caused my chopsticks to fling out of my hand, hit the person beside me and fall on the floor. I KID YOU NOT. I'M ACTUALLY NOT KIDDING HERE. じょうだんじゃねえええぞ。

People, as I'm living in Japan starting this summer, this clearly does not work. What on earth am I supposed to do. I'm actually quite coordinated for most anything else... Just not... Just not this. How are you with chopsticks?
User avatar
Shiroisan
 
Posts: 351
Joined: Sun 03.06.2011 2:52 am
Native language: Eigo

Re: Chopstick Embarrassment...

Postby SomeCallMeChris » Mon 04.16.2012 10:27 pm

I'm fine with chopsticks, but I've been using chopsticks since I was a child. Sure, I'm a white american middle class male, but I was brought up to use the right tool for the right job, and all the good Chinese restaurants provide you chopsticks. They'll bring you a fork if you ask, and won't point when they laugh. (Other Asian restaurants also, but those were much harder to find when I was a child.)

That gave me a basic grounding, but I became really adept at them when I simply ate -everything- with chopsticks for months, just because I could (this was in my early phase of studying the Japanese language, you might guess.) Not only ramen noodles, but also spaghetti-o's and mac-n-cheese with chopsticks. Minestrone soup with chopsticks (you don't need a tool to sip the remaining broth). Hot dogs with chopsticks, both to cut into pieces and to eat the pieces. I don't remember what all with chopsticks, but pretty much... everything.

Okay... Pizza and subs I ate with my hands. And as a college student that was a big part of my diet, but then, so was Chinese take-out, which, of course, I did not eat with my hands.

Anyway, practice makes perfect, that's all.

Also, the closer to the tip you hold the more control you have. The further back you hold, the more leverage you have. Use that to your advantage, choke up on the sticks when you feel the tips are not going precisely where you want them, slide back when you feel you can't grip something hard enough (although it sounds like you have a plenty strong grip, so that may not be necessary... )
SomeCallMeChris
 
Posts: 256
Joined: Tue 08.09.2011 12:54 pm
Native language: English

Re: Chopstick Embarrassment...

Postby SakeIt2Me » Fri 04.20.2012 12:12 pm

Heehee, thanks for the story!
I had the opportunity to use chopsticks since I was a child, since my family have always been fans of Eastern cuisine...but I really never got to the point I am now until I used them regularly at home as well as out.
Still, I would say I'm "okay" at using them. I can't slice a boiled egg in half with the chopsticks unless I'm having a really good day, and it will take me an entire hour to eat a bowl of rice, and even then I usually leave a few grains over. Sacrilege!

SomeCallMeChris gave good advice, eat everything with them while you're at home!
That way you can be more relaxed. When your hands are tense it just makes things more difficult, like when you're holding a pencil/pen to write with - if you have a death grip on it you're making it harder to write properly...
Oh, and don't forget to slurp your noodles :D That always helps.
がんばって! 
Maybe I will meet you one day, maybe Wednesday, maybe not...not
SakeIt2Me
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Wed 07.14.2010 6:13 pm
Native language: English
Gender: Female

Re: Chopstick Embarrassment...

Postby Shiroisan » Sat 04.21.2012 12:37 am

SakeIt2Me wrote:like when you're holding a pencil/pen to write with...


I think this may be the source of all my problems with chopsticks... That being, I never learned how to properly hold a pencil as a kid. Apparently, everyone is taught to rest the pencil on either the ring or middle finger, right? Well I don't rest the pencil on any finger. Hence why my hand doesn't have the muscle control to control an object that isn't being held by the "death grip". When I hold a pencil, I have it pinched between the tips of my thumb, middle and index finger.

Whenever I try to "rest" a pencil or chopstick on any one of my fingers, I lose all control.
User avatar
Shiroisan
 
Posts: 351
Joined: Sun 03.06.2011 2:52 am
Native language: Eigo

Re: Chopstick Embarrassment...

Postby helephant » Sat 04.21.2012 9:55 am

It's definitely just practice. When I first started working when I was about 20 I couldn't use chopsticks at all, but the people I were working with were big fans of asian food so I got lots of practice. A year or two after that and it became totally automatic and I can use chopsticks as effectively as a fork.

Don't think you have to have learnt from a child or anything like that. It's just being patient with yourself and getting enough practice (much like 日本語の勉強します). :)
User avatar
helephant
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun 03.07.2010 3:53 pm
Location: England
Native language: English

Re: Chopstick Embarrassment...

Postby SakeIt2Me » Mon 04.23.2012 3:54 pm

Shiroisan wrote:
SakeIt2Me wrote:like when you're holding a pencil/pen to write with...

...
Whenever I try to "rest" a pencil or chopstick on any one of my fingers, I lose all control.

I feel a small bit of relief from this, knowing that you will never be a smoker. :D

Just kidding!

Back to chopsticks, I have seen some people use chopsticks with their middle finger between the chopsticks. I don't hold them like that - I hold the top one with my thumb and index finger, and hold the bottom one solidly in place with the base of my thumb/hand pressuring it against knuckle of my middle finger. So that the only chopstick you are actually needing to move/control is the top one. If the other way of holding them isn't working for you, try that.
Practice makes perfect! Or at least semi-competent, I've heard tell.
Maybe I will meet you one day, maybe Wednesday, maybe not...not
SakeIt2Me
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Wed 07.14.2010 6:13 pm
Native language: English
Gender: Female

Takes about a week

Postby tokyofan » Wed 10.31.2012 6:51 am

This was not in Japan. Then I wouldn't worry about it. If you ever make it to
Japan you will use them so much that it won't be a problem. It starts with
holding them properly, and then just a matter of using them a lot. It took about
a week of using them to get comfortable, and what was funny was I discovered
that my hand had tiny little muscles that hurt a little, since these muscles were being
used for the first time. Good luck!
tokyofan
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun 10.28.2012 4:20 am
Native language: English

Re: Chopstick Embarrassment...

Postby Ongakuka » Wed 10.31.2012 8:49 am

You told that story very well :D haha

So yeah, about the chopstick thing, don't worry. I was the same. But once you start using it every day, you'll have no problems using them in less than a week. It just takes some getting used to.

Incidentally, sushi is easier to pick up when it is made in Japan. The sushi you get in my country just falls apart when you try and lift it :? enjoy.
なぜなら、おまえは・・・・・・人形だ
User avatar
Ongakuka
 
Posts: 1000
Joined: Mon 09.26.2005 1:07 pm

Re: Chopstick Embarrassment...

Postby Shiroisan » Thu 11.01.2012 1:22 pm

Ah, I guess since you bumped I may as well update. It worked like the posters said it would, I'm finally able to use them effectively now :D . The first few weeks here I still had incidents, but after using them every day, there's no problem anymore. Hopefully my Japanese ability will also follow suite.
User avatar
Shiroisan
 
Posts: 351
Joined: Sun 03.06.2011 2:52 am
Native language: Eigo


Return to Japanese General Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests