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Continuing from last month, here’s some more etiquette advice for making living in Japan a bit easier!

Eating
In the last issue we showed you some of the do’s and dont’s of chopsticks. Here’s some more help on eating in Japan:
– It’s polite to say “Itadakimasu” before starting to eat. It’s said to express gratitude not only for the preparation of the food but also any living animals that made up the meal.
– Unlike some Asian cultures, it is considered polite to clear your plate in Japan. It’s not polite to pick out certain foods and leave the rest.
– Instead of pouring soy sauce directly onto rice or other food, pour a small amount into the provided dish.
– When dipping sushi into the soy sauce, it’s considered polite to do it sushi side down, to prevent grains of rice falling into the soy sauce.
– You can lift rice and soup bowls to your mouth to avoid spilling food. It’s also acceptable to slurp certain foods such as ramen or soba noodles. However, that’s not an excuse to slurp when in the Italian restaurant as slurping pasta is not normal!

– Lower down the scale on ways to offend is eating or drinking while walking. It’s not a big problem, but some Japanese do consider it impolite to eat while walking or on public transport.
– When you visit a restaurant you’ll often receive a wet paper towel called an oshibori. Don’t wipe your face or neck with the towel as it’s considered rude in the majority of places.
– When using a toothpick you should cover your mouth with one hand.

While on the subject of covering your mouth whatever you do don’t blow your nose at the table especially with a cloth handkerchief! Blowing your nose in public let alone in a restaurant is very rude. However, sniffing to prevent blowing is ok!