Food Etiquette: Guide & Resources Directory


Japanese Food Etiquette

When going to a Japanese restaurant you should know that removing your shoes at the front of the restaurant or removing your shoes before you are seated is the polite way to go. A waiter or waitress will lead you to your table and if no waiter or waitress is around it usually means that its self seating and you can sit wherever you want. A majority of restaurants in Japan have the Western style tables and chairs whereas other restaurants still have the traditional low tables with the cushions on the floor. The formal way of sitting on the floor for both genders is by kneeling. The casual way of sitting for men is usually with cross legged and women sit on there knees laying both legs on one side.

The most important guest sits on the honored seat which is located the farthest from the entrance. The host or least important person in the room is suppose to sit next to the entrance. After you are seated at your table a glass of water or tea is served, and they are normally free with refills. You will then be given a wet towel so that you can clean your hands. Later, if not already on the table you will receive chopsticks. In Japanese you say I gratefully receive before starting to eat your food then after finishing your meal you say thank you for the meal.

Japanese like every culture has table rules, here are some: blowing your nose in public, and especially at the table is considered bad manner. It is considered good manner to empty your dishes to the last grain of rice. Talking about toilet related and similarly this appetizing topics during or before a meal is not appreciated by a lot of people. Unlike in some other parts of East Asia, it is considered bad manner to burp. After finishing eating try to place all your dishes in the same way as they were at the start of the meal. This includes replacing the lid of dishes which came with a lid and replacing your chopsticks on the chopstick holder or into their paper slip, if there are any. The Japanese custom is that when you are drinking an alcoholic beverage it is custom to serve each other rather than pouring yourself the drink into your glass. You are like the waiter during the time you are drinking alcohol. You are suppose to serve them and check their cups constantly and if it is empty for you to refill their cups. Also if someone else wants to serve your then you are suppose to empty your glass and hold it towards that person so that they can refill your glass.

In some formal Japanese restaurant it is considered bad manner to become obviously drunk. You should not start drinking until everyone at the table is served and the glasses are raised for a salute. It is common for everyone to share the food that has been ordered. After everything is served the bill will be given to you upside down when you received your meal, or the bill will be served to you after you are finished eating. Most Japanese restaurants require you to pay your bill at the front cashier where the front door is, but some restaurants have a different system. These different systems might be either you pay right after ordering your food, or you might buy a meal ticket at a vending machine then when you go into the restaurant you hand them over to the staff for you to get the food you paid for. Japanese restaurants in Japan do not require a tip, all you have to say is to be polite is "gochisosama deshita" which means "Thank you for the meal."





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