Japanese table manners and chopstick usage🥢


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If you like Japanese food, there is no harm in knowing Japanese food manners!! Learn to use chopsticks skillfully!!

Manners during a meal are very much a reflection of a country's culture and way of thinking. Knowing the manners of the country you are visiting will help you enjoy your meal more. In this article, I would like to introduce some of the minimum manners that you should be aware of when eating at a Japanese restaurant or eating Japanese food.

Basics of Japanese Food Manners

When you think of "Japanese food" overseas, you probably imagine remen, sushi, udon, and the like. However, basic "Japanese food" refers to "one soup and three dishes (一汁三菜)" consisting of rice, miso soup, main dishes, and two side dishes.

💡This style, called "Teishoku" in restaurants, is a set of Japanese dishes that can be enjoyed as a set meal.

Japanese food serving position

Sashimi Teishoku

In Japanese cuisine, dishes are arranged with an emphasis on ease of eating and appearance. The rice bowl is placed on the lower left because it is held with the left hand, and the main dish is placed on the far right for easy access.

  • staple     : rice ---------------left front
  • soup       : miso soup, etc----right front
  • main dish: Fried, grilled,etc--back right
  • side dish : salad,etc----------back left
  • side dish : pickles,etc--------center

A set order to eating

It is not limited to Japanese food only, but it is good manners to eat in order from the least flavorful to the most flavorful. The same applies to French food. First, you should start with the lightly flavored, delicately seasoned dishes,and then move on to the more flavorful ones.

💡It is recommended to eat soup first, partly to make the chopsticks glide better.

Important!! Chopstick Manners

Just as with a knife and fork in Western cuisine, the manner of using chopsticks is very important in Japanese cuisine.

Correct way to hold chopsticks

How to hold chopsticks

The top chopstick is held between the index and middle fingers, while the bottom chopstick is held in place with the base of the thumb and ring finger. It is easier to understand if you first hold the first one like holding a pen and pass the second one between your thumb and index finger. Fix the upper chopstick with the index and middle fingers, and the lower chopstick with the base of the thumb and ring finger. The bottom chopstick is fixed and not moved, and only the top chopstick is moved ti pinch the object.

Wrong way to hold it

Do not hold them in this manner.
  • grasping one's chopsticks the same way one might hold a walking stick(NIGIRI-BASHI)
  • crossed chopsticks(KUROSU-BASHI)

These are not the way to use it!!!

There is a type of chopstick use during a meal that is considered bad manners,called "KIRAI-BASHI" (disliking chopsticks). Let's take a look at them below.

  • MAYOI-BASHI(迷い箸) : Going back and forth over the plate with chopsticks, wondering what to eat.
  • SASHI-BASHI(刺し箸) : To use chopsticks propped up against food.
  • WATASHI-BASHI(渡し箸) : Placing chopsticks so that they pass over the plate while eating.
  • YOSE-BASHI(寄せ箸) : To draw the bowl with chopsticks.
  • TAYE-BASHI(立て箸) : To stick the chopsticks straight up into the food.

Different Countries Have Different Manners

Each country has its own manners, but what is interesting is that there are manners that are completely opposite. Here, I would like to introduce a unique Japanese manner.

Say thank you before and after meals

In Japan, before and after a meal, people join their hands together in a gesture of thanksgiving. This is also seen in other countries, but in most cases it is a way of expressing gratitude to God. It is interesting to note that in Japan, people give thanks for many things: for the people involved in the meal, for the blessings of nature, and for the ingredients themselves.

🙏Before meals : ITADAKI-MASU (Thank you for the meal.)
🙏After meals   : GOCHISOU-SAMA(It was a great meal.)

The bowl should be held in the hand

As mentioned earlier, in Japanese cuisine, bowls of rice and miso soup should be held in the hand. Large bowls of ramen or udon, or flat plates do not need to be held in the hand. In Korea, Japan's neighbor, the opposite is true: it is considered bad manners to eat with the bowl in the hand.

Noodles are slurped noisily

This is a peculiar Japanese manner, but it is considered good to make noise when eating noodles (ramen, udon, soba). Pasta and other dishes that do not contain any broth do not make a sound. This is one of the manners that often surprises people in other countries!!

There is nothing wrong with foreigners not having good manners. We are biginners in foreign countries as well, and the most important thing is to have a delicious meal. However, if you know even a little bit about manners, I think you will enjoy your meal even more.

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