June 4, 2013

10 Important Sushi Tips - The Sushi Etiquette Guide

Tips for Eating Sushi in Japan

Japan is a very traditional culture with many, many cultural actions based on traditions from hundreds of years ago. Japan is known for many things, and one of the biggest is sushi. But with most aspects of Japanese life, there are certain traditions and etiquette that should be followed when enjoying sushi

sushi etiquette tips in okinawa japan
Learn more about Sushi!
Okinawa is slightly less traditional compared to the rest of Japan due to its geographical separation and large American influences, yet one will find plenty of places to eat sushi, and proper etiquette is important.

For Americans or other foreigners living or visiting Okinawa, here are some sushi etiquette tips to help you make your next meal of sushi enjoyable and respectful.

Who should learn about sushi etiquette? anyone who might eat at a sushi restaurant should learn the proper actions so as to present a good image. Now, let's get to some tips to make your next sushi adventure more enjoyable.

10 Basic Sushi Etiquette Tips 

1. When entering a sushi establishment, indicate the number of people in your group by saying it in Japanese, or just by holding up the number of fingers (in some places, you may be expected to simply find your self a seat, either at a booth or at the sushi bar). For a group of four, you would say 'Yo-nin' (yoo-neen) or hold up four fingers.

tips for eating sushi in japan
How to Hold and Use Chopsticks
2. A small container of soy sauce should be at your table or provided with your sushi. Pour a small amount into the small shallow bowls also provided with the sushi. Don't put too much in your dish, it is considered rude and wasteful. If you enjoy wasabi, the green stuff (like horseradish) that comes on the side of most sushi plates, add some to your sushi, but don't mix it in the soy sauce.

3. Sushi can be eaten with either chopsticks or with your fingers, but never use your chopsticks to spear your food. If you don't have experience using chopsticks, practice at home. It is not polite to ask for silverware unless it is common at that restaurant. It is also rude to rub your chopsticks together, it suggests low quality chopsticks.

4. When eating your sushi, dip the fish, while trying to avoid dipping the rice in the soy sauce. This is because you don't want the rice to fall apart in the soy sauce.

5. Always eat the sushi in one bite, don't try cutting it into smaller pieces.

6. If you happen to also have other food such as a bowl of rice, never stick your chopsticks straight up into it. This is done only when presenting food for deceased ancestors. Either lay your chopsticks on the side of your plate, or resting on a chopsticks holder.

10 tips for eating sushi
Love Sushi? Get a Sushi Kit!
7. If you are also enjoying a bowl of soup, such as miso soup, it is OK to hold the bowl to your mouth and drink from it. You may also be given a spoon to use, which is fine.

8. When taking sushi from a common plate at the table, use a pair of serving chopsticks to put the sushi on your plate. If there are no serving chopsticks, use the back end of your own chopsticks, which should be clean.

9. Always be respectful of the other people eating at the sushi restaurant. Avoid speaking loudly or making too much noise. Bring a smile with you and be sure to learn 'thank you' in Japanese to use as often as appropriate. ('Arigatou' is thank you - ah-ree-ga-toe)

10. Have a good time and enjoy the food. In general the Japanese, especially those on Okinawa, are very forgiving of foreigner's mistakes, as long as you are trying to follow the etiquette. Even if you don't pronounce 'Arigatou' (thank you) correctly, it will usually bring a smile if you try.

Helpful video explaining more on eating sushi in Japan:

See the video above for more tips and helpful information. And remember, most Japanese or Okinawan people would love to help teach your words or proper etiquette if you ask them politely. 

For more on Okinawa, check out our Best Places to Live or the Top 10 Things to Do in Okinawa

Leave a comment below with questions or your experiences, and be sure to share this with those who might be visiting Japan!

1 comment:

  1. Sushi could be thought of as the Japanese equivalent of the Western sandwich––portable, easy-to-eat, available in many varieties and a staple. If you're new to sushi or you're not that well acquainted with the proper methods for eating sushi that's why you need to know some sushi etiquette and I will tell that you really enjoy eating sushi if you use a personalized chopsticks.