Manners and customs change from one country to another. What you may find as rude or even extremely rude may be just part of another country’s culture. For example, it is good manners to burp at the end of the meal in some Asian and Middle Eastern countries. What we may find disturbing can be the most common thing for someone else. Although we need to remember that it is variety and diversity that makes the human being so unique. For this reason, we want to provide you with some basic Japanese dining etiquette. Either if you visit the Land of the Rising Sun or just your local restaurant, you will not be embarrassed for not following the correct protocol.
The Art of Eating with Chopsticks
Much can be said about the chopsticks and how you need to handle them. Think of them as your eating tools only and not a manner of pointing to things or even a skewer. This is seen as disrespectful as well as using them to indicate what dishes you like and licking the sauce off of them. If no utensil is available for shared dishes, always serve yourself using the thick ends of the chopsticks. Some restaurants will have low tables with cushions on tatami floors. Always take off your shoes and clearly avoid stepping on someone else’s cushion. Before you start eating, it is customary to say “itadakimasu” which stands for “I humbly receive” and when finishing to say “gochisōsama deshita” which translates to “thanks for the feast“.
It is not bad manners not finishing all your food as it is in other Asian countries but if you are satisfied, always try to finish all your rice down to the last grain. When eating out of small bowls it is not bad manners to raise the bowl up to your mouth and when eating noodles it is even seen as good manners to slurp your food. If you are not sure how to do it just casually watch another restaurant goer.
Finally, we advise you to always leave all the dishes in the original place they were served including the chopsticks. With these tips, we are sure you will be a hit on your next trip to the restaurant or even to mainland Japan!