The Japanese are very polite and welcoming hosts. If you are in Japan it would be worth experiencing their dining hospitality. There are several rules Japanese people observe while dining, however they would not expect you to know all of them. Even if you know them it is not very easy to follow them. They would appreciate your effort to try to be a part of them and will help you feel more comfortable.
Let’s start with the basics. You should say “itadakimasu” before you start eating. This means I gratefully receive. And at the end of the meal you say “gochisosama” which means thank you for the meal. Now, some basic table manners, which are the following:
- Burping is considered to be bad manners in Japan
- Blowing your nose at the table is also considered a lack of etiquette, even when you are in public.
- A washroom related discussion or a topic of a similar category is also a disrespectful act before the meal
- Eating your food to the very last grain of rice is considered a good thing.
- When you are done eating, you should put everything where it was before you started your meal, which includes putting your chopsticks back into their paper slip or in their holder and covering the dishes with lids.
Chopsticks are used in almost every Japanese cuisine. With chopsticks come a set of manners. First of all never use the chopsticks as a fork, it is a way by which food is offered to the dead in Japan. Secondly, never point or pass and accept food from someone else’s chopsticks, this is so because passing the bones of a cremated body is done like that. Drumming is also a disrespectful act in Japan so try to refrain from it. Never eat directly from the serving chopsticks. Put the food, even if it is a small piece, in your plate and eat it using your own chopsticks. If you can’t eat in a single bite, hold it with the chopsticks until you are done, don’t put it back on the plate. When eating, women should put one hand beneath the food when transferring it from bowl to mouth. However a man should not do this.
Surprisingly, it is considered as good manners if someone makes noises while drinking soup. If you are having rice or soup, it is polite to lift the bowl. The right way to have soup is to drink the liquid out of the bowl and eat the solid food with chopsticks. When drinking alcohol, you should serve others first rather than yourself. Occasionally check others sitting with you and fill them up if they are empty. Likewise, if someone wants to serve you, you should empty your glass as quickly as you can.
The Japanese table manners teach a person to be polite and patient. And another thing there is no tipping in Japanese restaurants. To enjoy your Japanese dining experience, it would be better if you knew the rules so you can follow them properly.