Unique food traditions followed in Japan

Food culture of Japan

The Japanese tradition boasts of a rich food culture that is popular all around the world. From soups and sushi to ramen and soba, Japanese food is heaven for all the foodies out there. When it comes to meals, either formal or casual, Japan strictly adheres to some table rules that are common across the country. Here are some unique food traditions all the way from Japan.

Seating style

Traditional Japanese meals are always taken by sitting on the ground in a seiza position (on heels with your legs tucked underneath). Low tables are arranged and a reed-like mat called the tatami is laid down for people to sit. You might have seen this practice in various Japanese movies or anime, in which everyone sit down together on the ground and have their meals. You should never spread your legs directly in front of you, as this is considered a bad practice.

Never rest chopsticks on the bowl

While eating the food, chopsticks should never be kept on the bowl to rest. If you wish to pause for a few minutes while eating, always keep the chopsticks on the side of the bowl or on a separate plate, but never on the bowl.

Drink with both hands

Japan is famous for its matcha green tea and the popular culture of tea ceremonies. During these ceremonies, you are expected to drink the tea by holding the bowl or cup with both hands. According to the Japanese, this method will warm-up your hands and will also make you look more refined.


In Japanese culture, slurping is equal to a sign of appreciation. You can either slurp the noodles by grabbing them with the chopsticks or slurp the soup by drinking it directly from the bowl. The idea behind this method is that slurping cools down the noodles and enhances the flavours by combining them with air.

Don’t use your hand as safety net

Many times while eating, we usually cup our hands below the spoon while bringing it from the plate to our mouth. In Japanese culture, this practice is considered to be rude. If you use your hand to catch the falling food, it is also considered bad manners.

Table manners

Once you are done with your food, it is expected to return everything back to the initial position. This means replacing the lids of the serving bowls and keeping the plate, bowls and chopsticks neatly together.

One thing you need to remember while eating with the Japanese is to never leave a messy plate behind. Leaving crumbled napkins around or leaving leftover bits of food on the plate is considered to be rude.

How to not use the chopsticks

Chopsticks come with a number of rules attached to them and there are certain chopstick etiquettes that the Japanese follow.

Firstly, don’t tap the chopsticks against the bowls or plate. Also, don’t stick them straight in your bowl of rice or noodles. You should also be careful while picking up food with chopsticks. Don’t stab your food with them, the movement of picking up food should be smooth and gentle. Also, never chew on your chopsticks and also keep them back in the wrapper after finishing your meal.

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