Dining etiquette in Japan.

Proper etiquette at the table is important in every social situation. Table manners are the elementary way to show respect and appreciation to your host or surrounding people. The country you are visiting may have different dining etiquette rules. Take some time to learn about it. A respectful manner will help avoid embarrassing yourself. 

Japan is no exclusion. Japanese cuisine is a unique. It is not just food. It is an art and a significant form of local culture. I hope this guideline will help make a pleasant experience for eating out in Japan.

Replica food 

Many restaurants in Japan arrange a display of plastic or wax replica dishes in the window. These imitations offer a detailed, visual description of meals. Also, you might see a stand with vivid pictures of the food, or there might be an English menu available. The displays are incredibly helpful for tourists, especially those who don’t speak Japanese.


In restaurants the waitress will offer you a hot steamed towel, so you can clean your hands. Do not wipe your face with a towel.


Chopsticks are used to eat most of the Japanese food. Here, some important rules on how to use them right:

  • Don’t stick chopsticks into your rice. This is only done at funerals.
  • Don’t pass food from your chopsticks to someone else’s chopsticks. This practice also uses at funerals.
  • Don’t play with chopsticks, cross them, wave in the air while you are talking, or point them at someone. This is impolite
  • When eating from shared dishes, use the opposite end of your chopsticks. 
  • When you are not using your chopsticks, during a chat or have finished eating, place your chopsticks on a chopstick stand or sideways on your plate. 


Lift the bowl towards your mouth while eating. Do not pour soy sauce over  rice.


  • Hands or chopsticks can be used to eat sushi.
  • Eat a sushi piece in one bite. 
  •  Dip the sashimi pieces into the soy sauce or eat it with ground ginger. 
  •  Nigiri sushi, should be dipped into sauce upside-down, so that the fish gets into the sauce first. 


  • Drink the Miso soup out of the bowl and pick solid food pieces with chopsticks.
  • Use chopsticks and ceramic spoon for eating Ramen soup. Don’t be afraid to slurp your noodles and soup. Slurping is considered evidence of enjoying the meal and, as most Japanese believe, inhaling air when eating noodles enhances the taste. 

Soy sauce 

Pour the amount of soy sauce into a small bowl and only as much as you need. Over serving soy sauce is bad manners.


When eating sushi, don’t mix wasabi with soy sauce. Sushi already has it. Mixing wasabi with soy sauce might overpower the taste and can be an insult to the chef.

Don’t leave food on your plate

In Japan, it is impolite to leave food on the plate. Japanese people don’t like wasting it. Finish your meal.

Properly finishing your meal 

When you’ve completed your meal, return all the dishes the same how they looked in the beginning. Place your chopsticks back on the chopstick stand.


Tipping is uncustomary in Japan. In fact, it can be considered rude. Japanese people are hardworking, and they perform their job with pride. You will receive the most outstanding services in the world. Excellent service is considered the established standard and tips are unnecessary.


Most Japanese restaurants ask customers to pay for their meals at the front register. You will notice a small tray for money. Place paper notes and coins there and your change will be put on the tray for you as well. However, if you have to give or receive money, visa card, gifts, business cards or any other things directly, use two hands to show your respect.

Don’t eat when you walk 

Japanese people don’t eat while walking or standing on the street. It is considered as a bad manner. It’s not only about the mess you might make or block the walking lane but also doesn’t give you the chance to taste and appreciate food.

You may be excused for breaking those social rules as a tourist, but better to learn proper etiquette and local traditions before you go to the trip. We all should respect and follow the rules which are common at exploring destination !



28 thoughts on “Dining etiquette in Japan.

  1. We learned many of these in the 1980s, when we first travelled to Japan. The first time with a guide and then on our own. The soup and noodle slurping which may seem rude here, is polite in Japan and a sign that the food is delicious. Thanks for sharing Angela. Allan

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I would be afraid of eating in public! But I like the idea of doing things respectfully. We could use some etiquette in the West, I think. I watched some Japanese drumming on YouTube last night. I have never seen it before and I’m not sure what it’s called, but it was impressive. I have a lot of respect for Japanese culture. Sad I never got there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Japanese culture always inspire me. And they have a perfect manner.
      Unfortunately I figured out that young generation doesn’t even know what etiquette means.
      I watch Japanese drumming too. It is very impressive.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Enjoyed reading this summary, all true! When I lived there, Japanese friends would ask if I can slurp my noodles and would laugh. It’s actually hard to do consciously if you’re not used to it. There’s a lovely series on Netflix called Midnight Diner that you might enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t slurp😀 it is very hard. I tried and was out of breath 🤣 I love the apron which we got before dinner, because when I was slurping…… it was desaster 🤣🤣
      I saved Midnight dinner on my Netflix list. I’m very curious to watch it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We are due to go to Japan next year and this information is very valuable. My best friend is married to a Japanese girl and we were lucky enough to be able to eat certain foods she cooks that are not found in restaurants. She is from Tokyo, she comes from a very traditional family, but they live in London and therefore she is very Europeanized. I love sushi and sashimi and I could eat it every day because it is a light cuisine full of different and harmonious flavors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is existing! I’m absolutely sure you will love Japan. Absolutely amazing country and people: Perfect in everything, very respectful, friendly and have a high manner.
      If you like technology I recommend you to go to see TeamLab Borderless on Odaiba. Fantastic exabition. Here the link:
      Also you will go to Odaiba from Shimbashi Station where you will take a monorail. So, on the Station, right on the corner of the mall there Giant Ghibli Clock. They have a little show couple times per day. This is a little Tokyo’s gem. But I’m sure your friend will show lots of amazing things.
      Nice to meet and have a wonderful day!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. thanks, I thank you for your kind availability. I believe that the thing that interests me most would be to know places, even if not well known, where you can eat real Japanese food, not the one made especially for tourists. So if you want to give me links to your posts about typical or hidden places, I will gladly read it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My pleasure! I will write couple posts for you.
        They don’t have food for tourists🙂 they have the best service for everyone.
        Keep in mind that Japanese people don’t take tips in restaurants. You might offend them by doing this.
        I have couple posts about etiquette in Destination Japan category. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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