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Japanese Table Manners – The Art of Eating and Drinking in Japan

In most societies, a set of rigidly-fascinating customs are followed when partaking of a meal. Digressing from the norm can be an alienating feeling, especially in a country like Japan where eating is an art in itself. From taking off your shoes on the tatami floor to neatening- up after a meal, Japanese table etiquette is an ideal depiction of its culture. If you aim to visit Roppongi, a district in Tokyo that is famous for restaurants that serve Japanese haute cuisine, you must make the Roppongi Residences your temporary home. Your Tokyo apartment will be the start to your exploration of Japanese food and table manners.

When you walk into a restaurant be aware of the ground you tread on. If you notice that the tables are low and cushions are delicately laid out, halt, and remove your shoes. If it’s a Western-style setting it’s safe to proceed. Wet towels which are called oshibori are provided to freshen-up your hands, and then the meal begins with thankfulness. “Itadakimasu” you will say, which means “I gratefully receive.”

Palm-sized bowls and ones much larger would be scattered delightfully on the table. In the case of the palm-sized bowls it is polite to take it into your hand and draw it very close to your mouth when eating. The larger bowls should not be picked up in a similar fashion. When at table resist the natural urge to burp and munch noisily, it is considered ill-mannered to do so. When the meal is complete and your tummy rumbles with satisfaction and gratitude, place the dishes in the way they were set at the beginning of the meal and say “gochisōsama deshita” which means “thank you for the feast.”

When drinking with friends the formalities abided by are simply amazing. Pour your friends their drinks and offer to refill their glasses as often as possible. Never pour yourself a drink before anyone else does! Raise your glasses and say “kampai” and you are ready to begin a fun evening in Japan.

“Kampai” to Japanese table manners that are a true reflection of a culture that is immensely rich.

Chandrishan Williams is a travel writer who writes under the pen name, Caleb Falcon. He specializes in writing content based on the many exciting world adventures that await intrepid travellers.

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