View topic - Japanese Table Manners
But seriously, at a Japanese table, what do I need to know (if I'd like to be invited again... )? When someone offers food, do I accept with my rice bowl, or chopsticks? Is the host expected to refill the teacup, or can I just help myself? I also noticed that Japanese tend to slurp up the entire strand of noodle rather than bite it off. Is that true?
I suppose the Japanese and Chinese might share some similar decorum. For the Chinese at least, I know that sticking chopsticks into the rice bowl is a big no-no. It resembles joss-sticks stuck into the rice bowl at funerals. Clinking the rice bowl with one's chopstick is another one (only beggars do that).
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Most families will say something like "いただきます” at the beginning of dinner and "おごちそうさまでした" at the end. With noodle soups, noisily slurping is generally seen as a compliment to the cook. Food will generally be for the taking on dishes in the middle of the table--using the back of your chopsticks is seen as more polite, but may not be done in a close family setting.
I think the best things that you could do to get yourself invited back to dinner is to compliment the cook and the food, try everything, and don't make faces at unfamiliar or strange foods.
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いただきます is said by almost all families before eating, and is said before lunch in school, etc. I would hardly call it "depending on the family." I would say that people who DON'T say it are the minority.
Also, when finishing, you say ごちそうさまでした。 There's no お on the front, because the ご is the polite prefix in this case (御馳走様でした)
the link that Rip70r gave looks like a really good primer to Japanese table manners.
However, the number of rules in traditional Japanese table manners is so numerous that even most Japanese don't remember them all. For example, depending on what fish you are served, there are certain ways to eat the fish.
Ippatsu // Japanesetesting.com
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Don't stick your chopsticks straight up in your rice (it looks like an offering to the dead).
Don't pass food from chopsticks to chopsticks. Pick the food up with your chopsticks and move the food to the other person's plate.
Do slurp your soup.
Wash your hands before eating. Restaurants give out disposable wipes when they show you to your table. Or they have a sink at the entrance you are expected to use.
Don't take food from a communal source with the end of your chopsticks that has (have?) been in your mouth. You should turn your chopsticks around and use the other end to take food from a communal source.
Feel free to ask for silverware. If it's obvious you are not asian (like me, blonde, blue eyse) they will often bring silverware without you having to ask.
Children are rude all over the world. Expect to be stared at. Expect to be pointed at.
Don't tip. Every Japanese person I know has told me that this is insulting to the Japanese. And when I've seen people try to leave a tip, inevitably someone from the restaurant comes running after you to give the money back. (But check with local sources).
Basic common courtesies are generally good habits where ever you are.
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