Let’s Learn some Ground Rules to Eating Japanese Food
When I was invited over to a Japanese colleague’s home for dinner, my first thought was what should I wear? How could I have ignored the most important question; what etiquettes do Japanese follow on the table? The awkwardness settled in as soon as I set foot in his house. No I am not suggesting there was flaw in his hospitality, but it was me who felt nervous wondering how I was expected to behave at the dinner table. I just imitated the other people around the table and it all went smoothly but I made it a point to detail others so they don’t have to go through the agony and can have their meals with ease.
Also read: Attention Foodies – Here Are Few Clever Food hacks while in Japan!!
Japanese people are very particular about manners and etiquettes whether it’s entering their house, sleeping, talking, dressing or even eating. If you do not follow a certain standard of conduct set by the society, you are doomed! Just kidding, they say it’s rude. Follow these simple measures and I promise you your host will be impressed. But hey most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy the food!
Whenever you enter a Japanese restaurant or even household, you will be offered a wet towel or wet tissue to clean your hands and freshen up. Once finished cleaning, put the towel back on the bamboo/plastic tray for using it again if needed.
Although making sounds as you chew or eat is considered rude elsewhere, but since most Japanese dishes involve noodles and soup, it is considered acceptable as you make the slurpy sound when swallowing the noodles and soup which adds to the fun of eating Japanese food. At tea ceremonies, guests often make slurpy sound as they gulp in the last sip of tea as an appreciation of the service and party.
Avoid speaking with a mouth full and make sure your mouth is closed as you chew. Only use one pair of chopstick to eat, using two chopsticks to eat is considered a bad omen in Japan. Do not stick your chopstick in the food; it again is a bad omen. Pick up your rice bowl to scoop rice with your chopsticks, which will prevent rice from falling on the table or ground.
Whenever you go to a tea party or have a drink with Japanese, it is considered good manners to hold the container of drink with both hands as they pour. Likewise it is also a polite gesture if the guest holds his goblet in his hand as the drink is poured.
Last but not the least; please avoid tipping the waiter or the manager for extra ordinary service. Japan is a strictly “No-Tipping” country. If you like the food or service, just appreciate the waiter or tell the manager to appreciate the cook. If you even leave extra money by accident as an incentive, you will find your waiter following you and he will make sure you take the extra cash back.