By Amy Heritage
Respect your cutlery... Chop sticks are much more than the ‘knifes and forks’ of Asia – they have a serious cultural significance in Japan. So, no matter how tempting it may be, don't mess around with them or handle them before a meal.
Never, ever stick them up in a bowl of rice or pass food from one set of chopsticks to another - that's what they do at Buddhist funerals.
Say thank you... The Japanese are renowned for saying thank you, and it doesn't stop at mealtimes. Before beginning your meal, say “itadakimasu” which roughly translates as 'I humbly receive'. When you are finished, thank your host for the experience by saying “gochisousama deshita”. Even in a busy restaurant, your hosts will greet you and say goodbye to you.
Take time to eat... We Brits may have developed a 'food on the go' culture, but in Japan people make time to sit down and eat their meals - it's part of having respect for the process of eating. Therefore not only will you never see people eating on public transport, or when they are walking down the street, it's also incredibly rude for you to do so yourself - even if it's only a small snack.
When you are sitting down, don’t rush to start a meal – wait until everyone is ready before you begin.
Drink with friends... Don’t pour your own drink, it means you’re an alcoholic! Instead, pour your friends drink, and they will pour yours. Then say ‘cheers’, or Kampai.
Make some noise... Many Asian cultures are not shy about making sounds during a meal. In Japan, slurping your noodles is a sign of appreciation for the meal - and it's a heartily welcomed practice. However, unlike in Korea - it's still very rude to burp at the dinner table in Japan. Keep all bodily functions well removed from mealtimes - especially blowing your nose.
Take what you need... When eating Sushi, don't smother your dish in wasabi and soy sauce. Bowls will be provided for both condiments - take just what you need (you can always pour more if you've been too stingy) and dip your dishes into the bowls.