Japanese Table Manners   お食事のマナー

Date of publication :
Preparing a meal with workshops Mari in Tokyo.

Preparing a meal with workshops Mari in Tokyo.

A bowl of Japanese rice

A bowl of Japanese rice

Eaters ramen counter

Ramen is often eaten at a counter, alone or with friends.

The Art of Japanese Table Manners

Customs and habits during meals in Japan are sometimes very different from ours. So don't get caught out!

In Japan, the word used to for etiquette is 礼儀 Reigi. Among these codes of conduct, there are numerous rules related to eating. If you are invited to eat at someone's house or if you are going to dinner in a traditional Japanese restaurant, be sure to follow these simple rules.

Polite phrases

At the beginning of a meal, it is customary to say the wordsいただきます(itadakimasu). This formula is the equivalent of "bon appetit!" but it literally means "I humbly receive". After eating, to thank your hosts, you can conclude the meal with gochisōsama deshita, meaning "it was a real treat."

The art of chopsticks

When dining, it is frowned upon to point at someone with your chopsticks or even place them upright in a bowl of rice. They should not be used to take food from serving plates onto your own plate, or to sort food. Finally, it is seen as extremely rude to lick or chew them. Similarly, if you want someone to have a small taste of your dish, you must not use your own chopsticks to pass the food, but instead the other person should help themselves directly from your plate.

Savor your broth by abiding to the rules

If you enjoy ramen, it is quite acceptable to bring the bowl to your mouth to drink the last of your broth. Similarly, perhaps you will be surprised to hear the Japanese slurping their noodles loudly. If this practice might be perceived as rude outside of Japan, in Japan it shows that you are enjoying the dish, even if it is too hot.

Comments Read comments from our travellers