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Learning 7 Prominent Japanese Dining Etiquettes

Japanese foods are undoubtedly becoming everyone’s favourite here in Singapore. We enjoy eating Japanese dishes with our family, or even with colleagues and business partners. In those circumstances, it completely makes sense to learn Japanese Dining Etiquettes for your own good.

Don’t embarrass yourself. Here are top seven Japanese Dining Etiquettes you should note:

1.Wet towel is for hands only

Before a meal, the Japanese restaurant usually provides a small wet towel (oshibori). The towel should be used to clean your hands before eating food, not for cleaning your neck or face. After you are done using it, fold it and put the towel aside.

2. Say “Itadakimasu

You are expected to say “itadakimasu” which means “I humbly receive”, since you are receiving the lives of animals and plants. Plus, by eating food, you can make your life alive. This basic Japanese language shows your gratitude both to the ingredients and those who are involved in the meal (the chef, the waitress, etc).

3. Put small amount of soy sauce into the small bowl

It is a big no-no to dump the soy sauce directly on your food, especially plain rice. There will be a small bowl to pour soy sauce on, but do not pour too much. It is expected for us to only leave a small amount of soy sauce, so there is no waste.

4. Slurping noises are acceptable

Normally when you are eating, you want to avoid making any noise. But in Japanese culture, slurping your soup means you are enjoying the meal! Sip your soup directly from the bowl and enjoy the delicious taste with the “slurp” sound.

5. Chopsticks rules

If you love Japanese foods, there is a big chance that you are already practicing your chopstick skills. There are four most basic chopsticks rules on Japanese Dining Etiquette:

  • Do not point with your chopsticks. It is considered to be rude.

  • Do not move the plates or bowls using chopsticks.

  • Do not pass food from your chopsticks to someone else’s chopsticks. It implies bad luck.

  • Do not put chopsticks vertically into the bowl of rice. Place chopsticks sideways on the bowl/plate.

6. Rice bowl and soup bowl should be lifted

When eating rice for the rice bowl, you must lift the bowl from the table. Shift portions of rice from the lifted bowl to your mouth using your chopsticks. It is the same with soup bowls. Leaving the bowl on the table is considered to be bad manners. This only applies to rice bowls and Japanese-style soup bowls. You should not do the same to the sushi plate or other plates.

7. Sushi basic rules

When you are eating sushi, do not dip the rice onto the soy sauce. Instead, you should hold the sushi upside down, so you can dip the fish into the soy sauce. Sushi is also served for a single bite. Make sure the sushi is eaten in one go without biting. If you think it’s too large, you can ask the sushi chef to make smaller sushi.

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