Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rainy Day and Eating Manners

We bought shampoo and conditioner.
 Today is a rainy day. Ben and I were not feeling particularly creative in our endeavors today, so we decided to walk around the town, and just enjoy being in Japan. We also ran a few errands.

Ben and I are from a dry climate, so were not sure if this is a Japanese thing or not, but most stores have little stands with bags to put your umbrellas in to keep them from dripping on the floor.

I'm starting to get the hang of eating manners here. I have so far only been in fairly casual environments, but I have tried to pick things up from TV, eating in restaurants, and eating with the Saito family. Manners are very important to me, and I relish learning new customs and practices in different countries.
Here are my observations so far, these are coming from a female perspective. It seems to me that men are held to the same rules, just much more leniently, and generally the rules surrounding their practices are more influenced by a need to show appreciation for the food.

I would say the rule to base all rules on here is do not let food go anywhere but in your bowl, or in your mouth, food should not be found on the table or on your clothes. Although this seems to be enforced in all countries, it seems to me that most eating practices here are based around this rule.

It is important to know when to pick up your bowl. The general rule is if it is small enough to be held in one hand, it is acceptable, and generally encouraged to pick up the bowl and bring it closer to your face. If it is a food that is more difficult to eat, the bowl should be held very close to your face. The exception to this rule is if you are using a bowl for food that is shared, even if it is for your own personal portion, for instance for fondue or during shabu shabu. When holding the bowl your fingers should be as strait and together as possible, which is much easier for small bowls.

The practice of slurping is going out of style, women do not slurp for the most part. It is acceptable to slurp in ramen shops, but I would say that it is neither encouraged or discouraged. Most other places it seems to be generally discouraged.

It is ok to talk with food in your mouth, but only if your hand is covering your mouth in some fashion. Women often hold their hands in front of their mouth whenever they are chewing.

You should hold your chopsticks as far back as you are comfortable with. Do not clench your fist while holding them.

Pour drinks for other people, do not pour your own. If you are done drinking leave your glass mostly full. 

There are many more rules, especially about the things you say, but unfortunately I am having much more trouble with that part. I try to say delicious and thank you as much as possible, but I know that I'm missing many nuances. There also seem to be a lot of facets to the host/guest relationship that I do not understand yet either. I hope that I am not offending anyone, and they understand my gratitude.


  1. Ha! Those shampoo bottles are crazy...
    Who knew food manners would be so in depth, way to pick up on all this.
    I'm taking notes, as eating is priority #1.
    Has there been a lot of Rain?? Do you have appropriate umbrellas?

  2. Yeah, they're pretty cheap too! lol, well as foreigners we have a "get out of jail free" card, as it were, but I'm glad you're taking notes!
    There has been a fair bit of rain, it's rained about 4 times since we got here, I bought an umbrella on the first day it rained, and Katie has her umbrella from NDK last year, so we're set now!