Meals in Japan traditionally begin with the phrase itadakimasu (literally, “I humbly receive”). The phrase is similar to “bon appétit”, or saying grace to give thanks before a meal. It is said to express gratitude for all who played a role in preparing, cultivating, ranching or hunting the food. This also acknowledges that living organisms have given their life to human beings asD?na.Upon finishing a meal, the Japanese also use the polite phrase Gochis?sama-deshita (lit. You were a Feast (preparer)). Sama is the honorific word which gives respect to the person, therefore, this phrase gives respect for making the meal. It is considered polite to clear one’s plate, down to the very last grain of rice; children are especially encouraged to do so – see also mottainai as Buddhist philosophy. It is impolite to pick out certain ingredients and leave the rest. One should chew with the mouth closed.

It is acceptable to lift soup and rice bowls to the mouth so that one does not spill food. Miso soup is drunk directly from the (small) bowl, rather than with a spoon, though larger soups may come with a spoon. It is also appropriate to slurp certain foods, especially ramen or soba noodles, though this is not practiced universally – however, Western-style noodles (pasta) should not be slurped. Further, noodles from hot soup are often blown on (once lifted from the soup) to cool them down before eating.


Rice is generally eaten plain or sometimes with nori (dried-pressed seaweed) – shredded or in strips – or furikake (type of seasoning). One may also add more substantial food such as a raw egg (yielding tamago kake gohan – “egg on rice”),natt? (fermented soy beans) – these are often added and stirred in to rice at breakfast – or tsukemono (preserved vegetables). There are also, less commonly, dishes featuring rice with ingredients mixed in, either during the cooking (takikomi gohan, “cooked in rice”) or after the rice has been cooked (maze gohan, “mixed rice”).

Pouring soy sauce onto plain white rice is not a Japanese custom, nor is it common to pour soy sauce directly over sashimi or sushi – pouring soy sauce on white rice would be similar to spreading ketchup on plain bread in the West. Instead, soy sauce is poured into a small dish that is provided, and the food dipped into the sauce. Furthermore, to pour an excessive amount of soy sauce into the small dish is considered greedy and wasteful (see mottainai). However, soy may be added as part of other dishes, such as tamago kake gohan.

Sushi etiquette dictates that when eating nigiri-zushi, one should dip the sushi topping-side down into the soy sauce to prevent the rice from soaking up too much sauce; leaving stray grains of rice floating in the sauce is considered uncouth, but can be hard to avoid for those who have difficulty with chopsticks. In sushi-only restaurants, it is acceptable to use fingers instead of chopsticks to eat the nigiri-zushi.


It is uncommon for Japanese people to eat while walking around – drink vending machines in Japan generally have a recycling bin for used bottles and cans, so that one can consume the drink while standing there, rather than walking off with it, and in summer months, the practice of vendo (a group standing around a vending machine drinking) is seen. Some consider it rude to eat in public or on trains, but this is not a universally held aversion.

Many Japanese restaurants provide diners with single-use wooden chopsticks that must be snapped apart. Chopsticks taper toward the bottom; the thicker top part, which will be snapped apart, may have small splinters. One should never use the thick, splintered end to pick up food. Also, one should never rub one’s chopsticks together–this is considered extremely rude and unsophisticated (akin to playing with utensils, in a western restaurant), especially when one is seated at a sushi bar, as this signals the waiter that one thinks his utensils are cheap.

In Japanese restaurants, customers are given a rolled hand towel called oshibori. It is considered rude to use the towel to wipe the face or neck; however, some people, usually men, do this at more informal restaurants. Nonwoven towelettes are replacing the cloth oshibori.

When using toothpicks, it is good etiquette to cover one’s mouth with the other hand. Blowing one’s nose in public is considered rude, especially at a restaurant; cloth handkerchiefs should never be used for this purpose. Conversely, sniffling is considered acceptable, as an alternative to nose-blowing. When sneezing, it is polite to cover one’s nose with a hand, or excuse oneself to the restroom first.

More Japanese Etiquette

 

 

 

*This guide is mainly based on wikipedia’s texts & images. We thank the authors , for their great efforts