Customs surrounding eating differ extremely in different countries. And of course there are different ways of eating foods from other cultures to make sure you get the tastiest experience possible. Let’s take a look at the general meal style in Japan and some of the most common ways of eating Japanese food.
One Japanese traditional meal format is the “ozen.” The ozen is a mealtime table for one person, and is basically a tray with legs attached. They are lined up on top of straw “tatami” mats, and diners eat directly atop the mats sitting in the “seiza” position with legs tucked under the thighs. Recently people tend to sit in chairs and eat at tables, but the convenience of the traditional ozen format has kept it in use at some “ryokan” inns even now. Another feature of Japanese food is that it can all be eaten with chopsticks. Portions are served in edible sizes, and it is considered polite to finish every dish that you touch with your chopsticks. Soups like miso soup come in bowls large enough to hold in one hand. The bowls are generally brought up directly to the mouth with the left hand. You lift the rice bowl with your left hand as well, and etiquette calls for you to eat every single kernel of rice in the bowl before finishing.
Chopsticks are used widely all over Asia, but the material quality, shape, and method of manufacture seem to differ for each country. Japanese chopsticks are made from wood and feature a tapered tip. Family members each have their own chopsticks and bowls, and children use short chopsticks that fit the size of their hands. Chopsticks are placed to the front of each place at a table or tray, pointed to the side instead of straight up and down. Knives, forks, individual soup ladles, and spoons are not needed for Japanese food. Even soups can be consumed in this manner by lifting the bowl directly to the mouth to drink.
Sushi restaurants are generally divided into two types, the “kaiten-zushi” restaurants and counter style sushi restaurants. In kaiten-zushi restaurants, sushi is placed on a conveyor belt that circulates the sushi around in front of the customer seating, and customers can select whatever they want to eat from the conveyor belt. Prices are determined based on plate design, and when you are finished eating the bill is totaled by counting the number of plates. One of the defining characteristics of kaiten-zushi is its relatively low price.
In counter style sushi restaurants, customers order directly from the wait staff. Delicious freshly prepared sushi is served.
Another tourist blog: Top 5 foods to try in Japan