Japan puts a strong emphasis on good manners and, being a culture that uses chopsticks, has its very own set of rules. Let's take a look at the basics of Japanese table manners!
While eating: holding the bowl just right
It is proper etiquette to hold up the chawan (tea bowl) and the wan (wooden bowl) while eating. Big bowls, however, should be left on the table as they are. Also, like in many other cultures, it is considered impolite to eat while resting your elbows on the table, and blowing one's nose or making loud noises while eating are frowned upon.
If you learn the proper way to hold chopsticks in your youth, you will always be able to hold them well and leave a positive impression with your skill. They might be a little difficult to use if you are unfamiliar with them, but give it a try. Also, there are many particulars regarding chopstick etiquette in Japan. For example, actions like piercing your food with chopsticks, wondering what to choose next while holding the chopsticks, and sucking the chopsticks are all considered bad behavior.
Don't make too much noise with the dishes
It is considered bad manners to handle your dishes carelessly and noisily. Tapping your plate with chopsticks or making a commotion when placing down bowls, glasses, and the likes is seen as rather rude.
Mind the volume of your voice
Though it depends on the place you eat, you should usually avoid speaking too loudly. While having fun and joking around loudly might be perfectly alright in an izakaya, people value their quiet time in most restaurants.
It's okay to slurp soba!
While it may be considered impolite to slurp your food in some countries and locales, it is okay to make some noise when eating noodles in Japan. Especially when it comes to soba, delicious noodles made from buckwheat, it is said that slurping up the noodles will help the flavor spread along your tastebuds.
"Itadakimasu" and "Gochisosama"
There is a custom to begin and end your meal with a greeting that expresses your gratitude toward the food itself. There is a life force that exists within food, and, as you begin to consume that force, you say itadakimasu (literally, "I humbly receive"). Saying gochisosama (literally, "It was a feast") after the meal is a cultural given. Whether you say it out loud or not depends on the situation. When you are at a quiet place or by yourself, wordless appreciation is just as good as saying the phrase out loud.
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