A first timer in the discipline of Japanese cuisine may somehow find it “different” apart from other cuisine recognized around the world. Though not physically in the land of the rising sun, experiencing the actual Japanese manner in dining cannot be that far behind, now that almost every country has its own Japanese restaurant. But it would instill a great experience to be able to dine like a Japanese, meaning, eating on restaurants or even at someone’s private homes while seated on cushions on the tatami floor with low tables rather than the western styles high chairs and tables. This column will serve as a guide for your everyday etiquette dining in real Japanese restaurants.
In Japan, it had been a custom before eating to say “itadakimasu” (which means “I gratefully receive”) and “gochisosama (deshita)” (meaning “Thank you for the Meal”) after finishing the meal. Although not really a Japanese or at Japan, it wouldn’t hurt to exclaim these accustomed phrases, would it? Of course not. Now, the most important knowledge a person must know when it comes to eating a Japanese meal is the skill of using chopsticks efficiently. For beginners, the use of chopstick can be a pain but constant practice might save these sticks from breaking as a result of frustration.
Table manners are easier said than done, that’s a fact. But despite of that, it’s a must of being able to stand down and submit to the discipline. In Japan, blowing you nose in public, and especially in front of the meal is considered as bad manners. And unlike other customs, it is considered by the Japanese to empty their dishes to the last grain of rice. Satisfying as it is done, to burp for them is considered as bad manners. After eating, one should try to move all his dishes back to the same place they were before the meal had started, including replacing the lids on dishes and putting his chopsticks on it holder or back into their paper slip.
As opposed to some discipline, the bowl of rice is to be held in one hand and the chopsticks in the other. Lifting the bowl of rice towards the mouth while dining. When it comes to beverages, it is a custom to serve each other, rather than pouring on your own cup. From time to time, one should his friends’ cups and refill their cup if theirs are getting empty. Similarly, if somebody wants to serve more alcohol, he should quickly empty his glass and hold it towards the person offering it.
Japans custom may be alike to ours in many ways, but from case to case they may be quite different from the other, and that’s inevitable. But every new thing is an adventure, though how crazy it may seem. And that calls for a cheers…Kampai!