The residents of the famous cherry blossom land always respect their principles, even in everyday activities such as eating.
Japanese cuisine is very well-known around the world thanks to its fine ingredients and artful processing. In addition to the wonderful taste of Japanese dishes, the elegant décor, Japanese rules while eating also make the visitors surprise.
1. Dining table and seating
Many Japanese restaurants have low tables and cushions sitting on Tatami mats instead of Western tables. You have to remove your shoes and sandals before stepping on the mat and remember to avoid treading on other people’s mattresses.
2. How to eat
Restaurants serve wet towels for guests to clean their hands before eating. After ordering, people usually wait until all the food has been served to the table, and begin with the sentence “itadakimasu” which means “let’s enjoy the foods!”. If you want to eat immediately, you need to say “okaki ni itadakimasu” which means “let me eat first”.
When eating with the small bowl, you should bowl near the mouth. When eating the foods placed on the common plate, you should use the chopsticks of that dish to pick up the food. Eating out loud (except with noodles) is considered impolite, and you should not leave any leftovers. Japanese people must eat all the food that has been prepared.
Therefore, a meal is often small and just enough for people not to leave. If there is something you can not eat, you can tell the restaurant to change to another ingredient.
After you have finished eating, you need to hold the chopsticks in the original order as the food is served. The Japanese finishes the meal with the phrase “gochisōsama deshita” meaning “thank you for the meal”, showing respect not only to the chef but also to the ingredients that make up the dish.
3. How to drink
Do not drink until everyone at the table has a drink and raise the toast. When drinking, you should pour for others more than for yourself. Remember to pay attention to the cup of others and pour more if the cup is running out. When someone wants to pour more wine, take a few sips before giving the cup to him.
Getting drunk in luxury and elegant restaurants is often considered rude. Popular restaurants allow guests to get drunk, as long as they do not bother others. If you can’t drink alcohol, you can say straight and ask for permission to drink another without being forced. Alternative drinks include non-alcoholic beverages, tea, fruit juices or soft drinks.
4. The principles tourists should remember
- Never use your hands to take food: Using your hands to take food while eating is considered impolite in Japan. It will be much more polite if you used a Tezara handheld dish to catch sauces or pieces of falling food and avoid getting dirty.
- Avoid biting foods, instead, you should eat the whole piece of food and avoid using teeth to tear. Japanese dishes are often divided into pieces that fit very well. You can cover your mouth when chewing big pieces.
- Do not mix wasabi (green mustard) with soy sauce: Other people in the other countries mixed soy sauce with wasabi when eating sashimi, but you should not do that. You need a little wasabi on the sashimi, then soy sauce.
- Do not hold the chopsticks before holding the bowl: When eating with Japanese, you should hold the bowl or plate first and then hold the chopsticks. When changing the bowl, first you need to set the chopsticks down, after holding the new bowl you hold the chopsticks again.
- Do not use chopsticks to touch food if you do not pick it up: You will be considered rude if you use your chopsticks to touch the food on the plate but then do not pick.
- Do not place chopsticks in the bowl: If you want to put chopsticks down, you have to put it on your chopstick holder. If not, you must wrap the chopsticks in the original wrapping paper and place it on the table.
- Do not use the same chopsticks when picking food from the common plate and when eating: Because the chopsticks are where you place your hands, they are not really clean and should not be used to pick up the food. You should ask for another pair to serve the food.
- Do not raise food over your mouth. Raising food over your mouth is considered rude.