Dining etiquette in Japan: An illustrated guide

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While not burping at the table might seem like the obvious polite thing to do, did you know that cancelling a dinner reservation is frowned upon? Or that you should wear slippers to the bathroom? This handy illustrated guide to dining etiquette in Japan will help you avoid any faux pas.

1. Don’t stick your chopsticks up in your rice – that’s only for funerals.

Illustration of chopsticks in rice in Japan

2. You’ll be given a hot, damp towel at the start of your meal.

Wipe your hands first, then your face if you like.

Illustration of a man using a towel on his face

3. Japanese tea and drinking water are free of charge – drink up!

Illustration of a kettle and a glass of water

4. Order the chef’s omakase set menu – best price and the best taste.Illustration of a chef with a tray of various foods

5. Don’t cancel your reservation at short notice – a big cultural no-no!Illustration of a man on the phone

6. It’s dining etiquette to let them know your dietary requirements

in advance, no-one likes surprises.

Illustration of a man looking at a pig

7. Pour beer for your friends (not yourself!) – “Kampai!” (that’s cheers in Japanese).Illustration of beer glasses clinking

8. Use the provided slippers in the restaurant restroom.

Don’t forget to take them off when you return to your table!

Illustration of slippers saying "Use me"

9. Be on time for your reservation – punctuality rules in Japan.
Illustration of a man looking at a clock

10. Give your noodles a loud slurp!

It’s not rude – it actually conveys appreciation of your meal.Illustration of a man slurping noodles

11. Don’t burp, munch audibly or blow your nose at the table – it’s not the done thing.An illustration of two men eating dinner with poor dining etiquette

12. At the end of your meal, put the lids back on dishes

and rest your chopsticks on the holder

nice and neatly as the meal began.

Illustration of chopsticks

All this talk of food is making us hungry! Pick from our Food & Drink experiences to flex your dining etiquette knowledge and break bread (or slurp noodles) with the locals.

Illustration of two beer glasses clinking
Kampai to that!

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