By Katie Nguyen
Food etiquette in Japan has greatly influenced my life as it has made me more respectful when eating at the table. Things like coughing or sneezing, sticking your chopsticks into rice, passing food, etc. is rude to do at the table. Coughing or sneezing is understandable, you wouldn’t want somebody accidentally spreading germs onto your food when coughing or sneezing, and is considered bad manners. Instead you should step out to do so or just hold it in till you are by yourself or if you were finished.
Sticking your chopsticks into rice is extremely rude as it is practiced in funerals. When I learned about this, I was reminded to never do this. However, my sibling has done it once, but it was slanted, however my dad got really mad at him for doing so. Passing food seems harmless, right? WRONG. Passing food was also practiced during funerals but instead of using food, they used bones.
Furthermore, in Japan, they also use different styles when eating like saying “itadakimasu,” meaning “I greatly received” (food), before you start eating as a way to show respect for the cooks who made your food. After finishing, they say “gochisousama deshita,” meaning “thank you for the feast.” Finishing and clearing your food is also considered to be good style. If there is food that you don’t like, then you should tell your server to remove them in advance.
For drinking, you shouldn’t start drinking unless everybody has their drink and the glasses are raised for a cheer, “kampai!” When drinking alcohol, you should let others pour your drink or vice versa, because it is customary to serve each other. Some restaurants allow you to be drunk as long you don’t bother other customers; however, in high end restaurants, it is considered bad manners. If you don’t drink alcohol, then you can refuse to drink and ask for other non-alcoholic beverages instead. All of this made me aware of what to do when eating and gave me some future references if I ever wanted to go to Japan, like when I ever go drinking or eating with friends or co-workers.