|"Waribashi" Disposable Chopsticks|
Hashi (箸) are short, tapered "sticks" used for eating in in several Asian countries. In the states, they're better known by the name chopsticks. Each country's chopsticks are a different style and the Japanese ones, by comparison, are short with a finely pointed end. I have several pairs of chopsticks, but I'm almost certain they are all Chinese-style chopsticks. It's all they seem to sell here.
There's only one appropriate way of using chopsticks in Japan, so there are MANY rules about what you can, and cannot do with them. I've broken most of the rules at least once or twice, so I'm glad I only eat with chopsticks in the company of my own home or my Vietnamese best friend's home. There were a few rules I was aware of like, "Don't stick the chopsticks straight up into rice," or "Don't stab your food with chopsticks," but others were completely new like, "Don't dig for food with your chopsticks".
There's a quite a few omens associated with chopsticks, too. Going along with the above rule, sticking chopsticks vertically into the rice is a bad omen, as is passing food between chopsticks. These are both things done at funerals and is obviously taboo. The video I liked and the bottom of the post is very useful for learning a few more rules.
Learning how to use chopsticks correctly is pretty important. In Japan, if a child can't use chopsticks correctly, they will probably be made fun of. It's just as important for me to learn, since I don't want to play up the "ignorant gaijin" stereotype that exists in Japan.