Welcome to my Blog.
My interest in Japan and Japanese food began in 1971 when I served a mission for my church.
Japanese food is delicious, and the Health benefits are great. Japanese people have the longest life expectancies in the world, which many attribute to the Japanese diet, which contriputes to a lesser known fact that is Japanese women have the lowest rates of obesity (only 2.9%) in modern cultures.
Japan has a
large selection of restaurants of an almost endless variety. While
every place is different, the following points will help make dining out in
Japan a smooth and enjoyable experience.
Many restaurants in
Japan display plastic or wax replicas of their dishes in a window
near their entrance. These replicas serve both to entice and inform patrons of
the restaurant's menu and tend to offer an accurate, visual description of the
style and price of meals found inside. The displays are especially helpful for
foreign tourists who do not read and speak Japanese. For if all other forms of
communication fail, you can go outside and point to what you want to order.
entering a restaurant, customers are greeted with the expression
"irasshaimase" meaning "welcome, please come in". The
waiter or waitress will ask you how many people are in your party and then lead
you to your table. Only in rare cases, are customers expected to seat
majority of restaurants in Japan provide Western style tables and chairs, low
traditional tables where you sit on pillows on the floor are also common and
referred to as zashiki. Many restaurants feature both, and you may be asked
which you prefer. In case of zashiki style seating, you should remove your
shoes at the entrance to the restaurant or before stepping onto the seating area.
permitted in many restaurants in Japan. Some restaurants provide both smoking
(kitsuen) and non-smoking (kinen) sections, while others are fully smoking or
non-smoking. If there is a choice, the waitress will ask you about your
preference before seating you.
style zashiki seating on the floor
with a sunken floor for your legs
restaurant with Western style tables and chairs
are seated, each diner is usually served with a free glass of water or tea.
If it is not served, free water or tea is usually available for self-service
somewhere in the restaurant. Everyone will also receive a wet towel (oshibori)
which is used to clean your hands before eating. If chopsticks are
not already set, you can usually find some in a box on the table. Most often,
they are disposable wooden chopsticks that need to be separated into two before
restaurants provide illustrated menus, other restaurants may only have Japanese
text based menus, or the restaurant's offerings may instead be posted on the
walls. If you are ever in doubt on what to order or find that you cannot read
the menu, try asking for the recommendations (osusume) or the chef's choice
(omakase). The latter will often get you some surprisingly good, prix fix style
meals, but be prepared to be adventurous and do not expect it to be cheap.
Once you are
ready to order, you can signal the restaurant staff by saying
"sumimasen" (excuse me), or if available, press the call button at the
table. Once you have finished ordering, the waitress will often repeat your
order back to you for confirmation.
restaurants, such as Izakaya, it is common for everyone in the party to
order dishes together and share them. At other establishments, however, each
diner is expected to order individually.
menu at a typical family restaurant
displayed on the wall
will be presented upside down, either as you receive the meal or after you have
finished eating. In most restaurants, you are supposed to bring your bill to
the cashier near the exit when leaving, as it is not common to pay at the table.
Paying in cash is most common, although more and more restaurants also accept
credit cards or IC cards such as Suica.
especially cheaper ones, have slightly different systems for ordering and
paying. For example, in many ramen and gyudon restaurants,
"meal tickets" are bought at a vending machine near the store's
entrance and handed over to the staff who then prepare and serve the meal.
It is not
customary to tip in Japan, and if you do, you will probably find the restaurant
staff chasing you down in order to give back any money left behind. Instead, it
is polite to say "gochisosama deshita" ("thank you for the
meal") when leaving.