Food Etiquette in Japan
Written by Suzan Adem
Food and etiquette are an important part of Japanese culture and we would like to shed light on some specific Japanese dishes that have their own rules, including sushi, ramen and boxed meals known as bentos. This will help you as you travel through Japan!
Sushi comes in many different varieties and has become popular all over the world thanks to Japan. But sushi also comes with a certain dinning etiquette to follow. One thing you should know is that you are allowed to eat sushi with your bare hands, however it’s not the same regarding the sashimi. Sashimi, which is raw fish sliced into easy-to-eat pieces, should always be eaten with chopsticks!
Another famous rule is that when shoyu (soy sauce) is served together with nigiri sushi (sushi with a fish topping), pick up the sushi and dip fish side into the shoyu, not the rice. Trying to dip rice side into the shoyu may cause the whole sushi to fall apart, while dropping rice into the shoyu plate. The appearance of rice floating around on the shoyu plate may leave a bad impression.
In the case when shoyu has to be poured into a plate, pour only a tiny amount since an unnecessary amount of shoyu is a serious taboos in Japan.
One simple rule while eating ramen or similar types of noodles is the sound you should make – slurping sounds! Loud slurping is a way to express appreciation for the meal. However, sounds such as munching and burping are not favorable. The main ramen etiquette is that the noodles and toppings should be eaten with chopsticks while the soup should be drunk with a spoon.
For foreigners living in Japan, it's helpful to understand the importance of boxed lunches known as bentō. Bentōs are very common and can be found containing simple meals made by parents for their children to take to school, at train stations and convenience stores for an on-the-go meal or even more elaborate and decorative options. The food is arranged in the order in which it is should be consumed.
Because the appearance of food is important in Japan, many parents make sure they arrange the bentō in an attractive way. The meal is almost judged by how well it is prepared, therefore some parents try to “show off”, leading to a competition between parents.
About the author: Hello, my name is Suzan, 20 years old student in Sofia University, Bulgaria. My major is Japan, so as can you guess I’m now studying about their rich and beautiful culture and language as well. That is why I find great pleasure doing these articles as it gives me the opportunity to expand my knowledge and it’s easy doing something you love.