Rules of conduct when eating in Japan

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Japanese meals - a separate bowl for everything

Japan and food, that's a thing in itself. Everything looks wonderfully artfully arranged, from the traditionally made tableware to the decoration at the table and the presentation of the food itself. Here it is immediately clear: the eye eats with you. Therefore, everyone should inform themselves about the most important rules of conduct when eating in Japan before travelling.

Cleanliness plays an important role

Don't forget to wax your hands before eating, every child learns this. Japanese meals also begin with cleaning the hands, which is done by handing out carefully wrung cloths soaked in hot water. The cloths are handily rolled up like a well-known pastry, transported in a small basket or bowl, steamed and should be served with appropriate tongs. The wipes are expressly intended for the hands only. Nevertheless, one repeatedly sees people wiping their face
and neck with the cloth and especially removing sweat from the forehead and neck. This is considered very
indelicate, but is accepted.

The chopsticks are also about cleanliness. Everyone at the table has their own pair, parallel to the edge of the table and between the plate/bowl and said edge. The thicker end of the chopsticks (the end that is grasped) always faces to the right. The front tip of the chopsticks rests on a chopstick bench, called hashioki, and does not touch the table. The chopsticks are never placed in the food or even standing up in bowls
. With one exception: at a funeral service, an additional place setting is laid for the deceased, and the chopsticks are demonstratively placed in the rice.

Own bowls for rice, vegetables, fish and meat

Soups are usually served in lacquerware. The small bowls are traditionally black on the outside and red on the inside and are made of lacquered wood. They have a foot so that the bowl itself does not touch the table. In Japan, it is believed that the air cushion in the hollow foot ensures that the soup stays warm and tasty for longer during the meal. You can't have soup without it: traditionally, only a
cup of tea or strong alcoholic beverages are served with Japanese meals. The soup replaces the drink.

Rice is served in the rice bowl. this is made of fine, very thin and often light-coloured porcelain and also has a foot with an air cushion. All other dishes are on small, flat plates, some of which are also raised from the table. In upscale cuisine, each and every diner is presented with the bowls of pre-portioned food, arranged on a lacquer tray and covered individually.

Mission Edumondi

The sitting posture - not so easy

Traditionally, people in Japan dine sitting on the floor. Low tables hold the various dishes. However, these tables can have the capacity of a dinner table and are not necessarily limited to four or six people. In somewhat older establishments, however, and especially in monasteries, food is often still served individually: the servant spirits of the kitchen transport small tables (one per person), on each of which a set of the meal is arranged.

The rooms where this happens are usually equipped with sliding doors (shoji), closed and covered with rice straw mats (tatami). Sometimes there are seat cushions or low chair backs to make sitting on the floor more comfortable. While the men sit cross-legged, the ladies kneel: The bottom is between the heels of the feet pulled under the body. The tables for eating are placed in front of the room, from a sideways kneeling position the sliding door is opened, and from a bow one moves kneeling into the
room. There one kneels sideways to the gentlemen, brings the table in and closes the door again. Only then does one rise with another bow and carry the table in a stooped posture to the respective diner.

Drunk too much?

Many Japanese lack an enzyme that promotes the breakdown of alcohol. After just a few sips of wine or beer, their faces become fiery red and they need correspondingly little alcohol to behave in accordance with their assumed excessive consumption. It goes without saying that the sitting posture is then no longer perfect. But manners in general also suffer.
Innuendos and jokes that are not usually made in public in other circles are normal in this circle. Women in Japanese society tend to be marginalised or not noticed at all. In principle, women also move in the upper circles, but they are expected not only to tolerate such behaviour, but also to accept it positively as a masculine quality.

Don't take it too seriously!

Finally, it should be noted that drunkenness is accepted in Japan society. Acts committed while intoxicated are undone. So anyone who misbehaves will never apologise or even think that this might be expected. Since alcohol is known to dull the senses, what applies to small children and senior citizens also applies to drunk people: they are simply not responsible for their actions.

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