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Posted by Ying on June 30th, 2017

10 little-known rules for eating Japanese food

'Washoku' is what they call to the Japanese food, in Japan! The great news is that the Washoku has just been registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. Apart from the official declaration, we all know how popular and delicious the sushi and tempura are. But while enjoying the Japanese food, have you ever mixed the wasabi and soy sauce as a dip for your sushi? Or how about using your rice bowl as a chopstick rest? If so, you have committed an etiquette faux pas! Just take a keen look at our list of 10 abstruse rules for eating the Japanese food and save yourself some embarrassment while having a traditional Japanese meal.

1) Do not use your hand to catch the falling food

It is considered ill-mannered if you are cupping your left hand under your food to catch any falling morsels or drippings. Using the tezara, literally “hand plate,” may seem polite, eliminating any rambling spills or stains on a tabletop or your clothing, but this simple eating habit should be completely avoided while sitting down to a traditional Japanese meal.

2) Always avoid using your teeth to bite food in half

In general, always try to eat your food in a single bite and avoid using your teeth to tear food into smaller pieces. Since it’s very discourteous to place the bit of half-eaten food back on your plate, cover your mouth with your hand while chewing the fat pieces of food.

3) Never ever mix wasabi into your soy sauce

This kind of improper eating method is seen in many Japanese restaurants all over the world but should be actually avoided. The right method is to place a very small amount of wasabi directly on the sashimi piece and then dip this fish into the soy sauce.

4) Never invert the lid of your bowl

It is considered that you have finished your eating if you have Inverted the lid of your bowl. However, the proper hint is to replace the lid on top of the bowl, just as it looked when brought to the table. This is because you might damage the lid by turning it upside down.

5) Never hold your chopsticks before picking up your food bowl

While eating a traditional Japanese meal, you should first pick up the bowl you will eat from and only then pick up your chopsticks. While changing bowls, first put down your chopsticks, then only change bowls.

6) Never place the clam shells in the bowl’s lid or on a separate plate

After being served clams or other shellfish, usually, people put the empty shell on a separate plate or in the lid of a bowl. This is considered impolite and should be avoided at ll cost; rather they should instead leave the shell inside their food bowl.

7) Never hover or touch food without taking it, and always pause to eat your rice

Hovering your chopsticks back and forth over the side dishes before finally choosing is a breach of etiquette. It is called mayoibashi, literally “hesitating chopsticks.” There is another term called sorabashi, or “empty chopsticks if you touch food with your chopsticks and then pulled them away without taking anything.  Both practices should be avoided. You better pause to eat some rice between those side dishes.

8) Never rest your chopsticks across the top of your food bowl

You might have seen this many times and thought this as a correct thing to do, but using your food bowl as a chopstick rest is a certainly a breach of etiquette. You can only put down your chopsticks on a chopstick rest also called hashioki. If no hashioki are available, then use the wrapper the chopsticks came in to make your own.

9) Never use the opposite end of your chopsticks to take food from a communal plate

Since the backsides of the chopsticks are where your hand's rest, it’s not a really clean area, and it shouldn’t be used to pick up your food. Asking the waitstaff for an extra pair of chopsticks, and taking food using your chopsticks is the right thing to do.

10) Don't raise your food above your mouth

Usually, people raise their food to about eye level before eating. However, right etiquette states that you should never raise your food above your mouth, the highest level your chopsticks ever reach.

Ying Zheng, To know more about Asian Cuisine kindly visit

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