5 Rules of Sushi Etiquette

Whether or not you’ve ever been to Japan, there’s no doubt that you’re aware that they do things quite a bit differently over there.

When are you supposed to bow? If you’re on a business trip, is going out late with your Japanese colleagues absolutely mandatory? Do they have a different relationship with technology than we do?

This top 5 list will not answer those questions. It will however shed some light on sushi etiquette.

Kneeling While Eating

Seiza is when you sit in a semi-kneeling position with your butt cheeks rested on your Achilles tendons. It originated in the era of samurais in order to honor the others sitting with you, but because it can numb your legs pretty quickly, many Japanese people today have chosen to ignore this piece of etiquette.

If you break out the seiza at a table full of Japanese people, however, they will be extremely impressed. This only works at restaurants that offer traditional Japanese seating. Do this while sitting in a chair and you will look like a moron.

Say “Itadaki Masu!”

There is no English equivalent to saying “itadaki masu,” as it is a combination of “looks great!” and “OK, I am now commencing my meal.” Say it before your first bite to express your gratitude for the food you are about to consume and Japanese girls will find you adorable.

Never Pour Your Own Drink

One of the best things about going for sushi is the gigantic bottles of Kirin, Asahi or Sapporo beer that accompany your meal. And since the Japanese invented the dry brewing process, they are all delicious and refreshing.

Keep in mind, however, that these are not meant to be consumed quickly in a brown paper bag like an Old English, but are meant to be consumed quickly while sharing with others.

Pour everybody else’s drinks first, then coyly place the bottle on the table. Another attentive person at the table should jump at the opportunity to pour for you. Not only is this a much more social way of drinking, but it also promotes heavier alcohol consumption. Win-win.

Don’t Pour Soy Sauce On Your Rice

Don’t do it! You may be tempted, but don’t pour soy sauce on your rice. Japanese people take a ridiculous amount of pride in their rice. Just try serving them Chinese rice with their sushi and see how happy they look. It’s all about the texture and the subtle flavours of the grains, so if you add soy sauce to the mix, you will appear to be destroying something beautiful.

Don’t Plant Your Chopsticks In Your Rice

In Japan, visiting the graves of ancestors is an important part of life. People sweep up around their family graves, leave flowers and also leave bowls of rice with — you guessed it — chopsticks sticking out of them. Unless you are a ghost or a zombie, doing so in a restaurant is a bad omen.