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  • Writer's pictureDavid Cheung

Eating in Japan

Japan is a country with a rich culinary culture, and for tourists visiting Japan, experiencing the local cuisine is an essential part of the trip. Eating out in Japan can be a unique and exciting experience, but it can also be overwhelming, especially for first-time visitors. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about eating out in Japan, from the different types of restaurants to Japanese table manners and etiquette.

Types of Restaurants in Japan

Japan is known for its diverse culinary scene, and there are many different types of restaurants to choose from. Here are some of the most popular ones:

Ramen Shops - Ramen is a popular Japanese dish that consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles in a meat or fish-based broth. Ramen shops are popular among locals and tourists alike and are often small, casual establishments with limited seating.

Sushi Restaurants - Sushi is another popular Japanese dish that consists of vinegared rice topped with raw fish or other seafood. Sushi restaurants can range from casual to high-end and can be found throughout Japan.

Izakayas - Izakayas are traditional Japanese pubs that serve a variety of dishes and drinks. They are known for their casual atmosphere and are popular among locals for after-work drinks and snacks.

Tempura Restaurants - Tempura is a popular Japanese dish that consists of battered and deep-fried seafood and vegetables. Tempura restaurants specialize in this dish and often have a counter where customers can watch the chef cook their food.

Yakiniku Restaurants - Yakiniku is a Japanese style of barbecue where customers cook their own meat at the table. Yakiniku restaurants offer a wide variety of meats and are a popular dining option for groups.

Japanese Table Manners and Etiquette

In Japan, there are certain table manners and etiquette that are important to follow. Here are some tips to keep in mind when eating out in Japan:

  • Say "Itadakimasu" before eating - This is a common Japanese phrase that translates to "I humbly receive." It is a way of expressing gratitude for the food you are about to eat.

  • Use chopsticks correctly - Chopsticks are the primary utensil in Japan, and it is essential to use them correctly. When not in use, place them parallel to each other on the chopstick rest, and avoid sticking them upright in a bowl of rice, which is a sign of death in Japanese culture.

  • Do not pour your own drink - It is customary in Japan for someone else to pour your drink. If you are pouring for someone else, make sure to hold the bottle or pitcher with both hands.

  • Do not eat or drink while walking - Eating or drinking while walking is considered impolite in Japan. If you need to eat or drink on the go, find a designated area or park bench to sit down and enjoy your meal.

  • Do not tip - Tipping is not customary in Japan and can even be considered rude. The service charge is often included in the bill, so there is no need to leave a tip.

Finding a Restaurant in Japan

With so many restaurants to choose from in Japan, finding the right one can be overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you find a restaurant that suits your needs:

  • Ask locals for recommendations - Locals are often the best source of information when it comes to finding good restaurants. Ask hotel staff, taxi drivers, or people you meet on the street for recommendations.

  • Look for plastic food displays - Many Japanese restaurants have plastic food displays in the window, which can be helpful when trying to decide what to eat. The displays often show the portion size and ingredients, making it easier to choose a dish.

  • Check online reviews - Online reviews can be a helpful way of finding local hotspots.

Eating out in Japan is an experience that all food lovers should have the opportunity to enjoy. From Michelin-starred restaurants to hole-in-the-wall eateries, there’s something for everyone in Japan. Whether you’re looking for traditional Japanese cuisine or something more modern and experimental, the diversity of options is one of the main draws of eating out in this country.


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