A eating manner considered OK in Japan could be considered rude in another country, and same in the opposite way as well. Many features of eating culture in Japan are different from other countries, for example, using chopsticks for everything when you eat. Therefore there are several unique eating manners exist as well. Some of them might be surprising for you!

Note : I respect other countries eating culture, and this is not forcing you to keep the rules when you’re in Japan or eating Japanese food. I will just introduce the fact of eating manners in Japan, it’s not for blaming other countries/cultures eating rules. Thanks!

1. Slurping noodles is welcome!

As we already wrote in another article, slurping noodles such as ramen, udon, and soba is no problem! Don’t hesitate to do it , as it shows you’re enjoying your meal . In fact, a lot of noodle advertisement video shows the scene of slurping noodles! (watch carefully around 0:20)

2. But people are super severe to chewing noises

You might think it’s contradiction, however, Japanese are so strict to people make chewing noises when eating. Even it’s chewing gum, it gives poor image. The point is, you are supposed to shut your mouth while eating and breathe through your nose.


Actually, not just chewing noises, Japanese people tend to hate any noises during eating (except when it’s noodle). For example, licking sounds, biting sounds, swallowing sounds, and gulping sounds…you have to be quiet when you eat. Japanese people think making noises during eating as messy.

3. Stirring food is not nice...

Appearance is important for Japanese food, so stirring your food in your plate is considered rude in most cases. Even if it’s Gyudon (beef bowl) or curry rice, it is thought as a little bit unpleasant.





Originally Japanese food tend not to mix rice with something. Rice is rice, and eat with the other side dishes. Therefore people mixing food in their plate give impression of ill-bred and immature, for Japanese people.

However, by mixing food it become more easy to eat and sometime feel more tasty, it’s true. You just better to refrain from doing it in public place!

4. Don’t Stick your chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice!!!!

It is very taboo because it reminds Japanese people of funerals. A bowl of rice with chopsticks are sticked is served at deathbed and in front of portrait of deceased person so that they can eat at afterworld beyond.


Please don’t stick chopsticks like this!

When you’re not using chopsticks while you’re eating, please place chopsticks at the edge of a plate or a chopstick rest.

5. Holding the bowl is totally fine!

In Western culture, it is not nice to hold bowls when you eat. You are supposed to use spoon when you eat soup, and knife and folk when you eat meat or fish. However, as we didn’t have culture of using spoon, knife, and folk, we needed to hold up the bowl to the mouth when eating miso soup, Japanese traditional soup. It is same when you eating rice. It is allowed to lift up soup bowl and rice bowl! The shape of the bowl makes us drive to lift them up...cannot help!


The size of the bowl doesn’t matter ; it is also no problem to hold larger bowls such as “Ramen”, “Gyu-don” and “Ten-don”. You’re supposed to eat them with chopsticks so, to eat up the remaining soup or rice in the bottom of the bowl, it’s better to lift and tilt the bowl and pour them all to your mouth! This is not rude in Japan. You can see this kind of scene in many anime.

How many of them make you surprised? As I stated in the beginning, eating culture is totally different in each country. I am Japanese and I didn’t know that eating spaghetti with fork and spoon is immature until I visited Italy. Italian people only use fork when eating spaghetti. In Japan, except exclusive expensive Italian restaurant, spaghetti will be served with fork and spoon at casual Italian restaurant. Japanese people are using both the tools without doubting that it’s inappropriate as it’s more easy to eat! It supports the bundle of spaghetti!

You don’t need to follow the rules I introduced, but I hope you keep these things in your mind and it help you at some situations!


Tokyo Girls' Update


By - grape Japan editorial staff.