10 Things You Should Never Do at a Japanese Restaurant

Remember these no-no's!

Japan is famous for its culinary scene—from ubiquitous ramen shops all over Tokyo, the street food scene in Osaka, to the restaurants that dot the different neighborhoods—one is spoilt for choice when it comes to food adventures in this country.

Traveling to Japan for the first time? Unsure how to eat sushi and all the other dishes you’re not familiar with? Make sure you know the basic food and dining etiquette when visiting Japan. Locals may excuse your lack of knowledge but knowing the do’s and don’ts show your respect as a traveler. Here are a couple of things to remember when dining in Japan:

Don’t use chopsticks to move bowls and dishes around.

A lot of table manners in Japan revolve around the use of chopsticks. One should learn how to use them correctly and never use them to move dishes around. Remember to use your hands when reaching for a bowl or when moving a dish on the table.

Don’t lick your chopsticks.

It is considered rude to lick or suck on chopsticks while not in use. When not used, the chopsticks should be placed on the chopstick stand which is called

Don’t pass food from your chopsticks to another person’s.

This is another funerary tradition so remember to avoid doing this! During funerals, the bones of the deceased are passed from one person to person to another. 

Don’t place chopsticks across your bowl.

This action signifies that you no longer want your dish. If you’re still in the middle of eating, place your chopsticks on the wrapper (if they’re disposable!) or leave them on the chopstick rest. Make sure they’re placed together (avoid crossing them!). 

Never mix wasabi into your soy sauce.

Sure, we all love a little wasabi in soy sauce when eating sushi and sashimi but when dining in Japan, it is deemed disrespectful. It disrespects the beautiful sushi a chef has prepared. Here’s what you should do: leave the soy sauce separate from the wasabi or place a small chunk of wasabi on one side and dip the other side in soy sauce. Not too difficult, right? 

Don’t eat sushi with more than one bite.

Eating sushi with just one bite may seem hard but sushi in Japan is made in sizes that it will perfectly fit with just one bite.


Don’t use a spoon when consuming soup, lift the bowl to your mouth.

When eating with small bowls such as soup, it is considered good manners to pick up the bowl with your hands and raise it to your mouth. 

Don’t slurp on soup; it’s only acceptable for eating noodles. 

Slurping soup is a big no-no. Do this only when eating noodles—it’s totally acceptable to slurp while eating noodles. 

Take off your slippers when going on a tatami mat.

If you’re having a traditional meal, remember to take off slippers and shoes before going on a tatami mat. Footwear is not considered clean so make sure to take them off! 

Don’t leave money for a tip.

The Japanese don’t expect tips when you dine in a restaurant so if you leave tips, expect that they will courteously decline. 

Photo courtesy of iStock.

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