dining etiquette in japan

BOOKMARK: The Top 7 Do’s and Don’ts of Dining in Japan

Visiting Japan soon?
by | March 02, 2023

One of the best ways to learn about a new travel destination is by eating your way around it. What do locals like to eat? Are there any dishes with seasonal ingredients I shouldn’t miss out on? Japan is the mecca of some of the best-tasting dishes and comfort food you’ll ever try, so be prepared to feast when you visit. But just like other destinations, the country has customs and etiquette you need to learn, especially when dining. Here are some dos and don’ts of dining etiquette in Japan:


Before you feast


Restaurants will usually provide wet towels – use them to wipe your hands and not your face. You will be tempted to feast on your meals once they are served to your table, but don’t forget one thing. Say “itadakimasu!”, which translates to “I humbly receive”.


Never rest your chopsticks on your bowl


We are used to seeing resting chopsticks on bowls, especially when taking that foodie picture for the gram, but it’s frowned upon. Instead, place them on the chopstick rest, or in cases where there is none, you can use the paper or plastic they came with.


Slurping is totally okay


While you might get weird stares in other places when you do it, slurping it totally okay when eating noodles and soup in Japan. It’s a sign that you’re enjoying your meal, so slurp away! Also, don’t hesitate to slurp your soup straight from the bowl.


When eating sushi


Sushi is eaten with soy sauce. Remember, only pour the amount of soy sauce you need; you can always refill your plate when you need more. Don’t be wasteful!

Don’t mix wasabi with soy sauce. Many of us might actually do it when eating sushi, but sushi chefs discourage it. “The concoction taints the soy sauce and ruins both the spiciness and aroma of wasabi,” as shared on Hypebeast.


Chopstick etiquette



Learning how to eat with chopsticks is one thing and the etiquette to follow is another. When dining with chopsticks don’t forget the following:

  • Don’t use them to stab food.
  • Rubbing your chopsticks can be taken as an insult; it implies you think the host is cheap. Don’t do it!
  • Don’t use your chopsticks when passing or sharing food. Instead, leave the dish on the table and let the person pick up the dish they want to try.
  • Don’t stick your chopsticks vertically as it is only done in funerals.
  • Pointing with your chopsticks is considered rude.
  • After your meal, place your chopsticks on your bowl or plate.


Don’t drink alone


When drinking, wait until everyone at the table has a drink and before you do so, say “kanpai”, which means “cheers”!


Giving tips is a no-no


You might feel generous after enjoying a meal and outstanding customer service, but tipping is not actually a thing in Japan. It can even be considered rude! A simple thank you is more than enough.


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When she’s not writing, Ina’s busy curating playlists that will save her when words don’t work, reading, annoying her cat, or thinking of her next meal.

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