When you visit Japanese restaurants, you should know that you will be warmly greeted with a loud “Irashaimase” when you enter.
Many restaurants are housed in traditional buildings and look a bit old-fashioned from the outside, but inside you’ll find many Western-style establishments. Of course, there are still the classic Japanese restaurants with tatami mats and low dining tables. If you want to dine in such a restaurant, please take off your shoes and make yourself comfortable on a cushion. Then you can fully concentrate on the delicious Japanese dishes.
And you don’t necessarily have to sit on your knees while eating Japanese food. That’s what many people think, but even in Japan it’s becoming more casual and comfortable. Men like to sit cross-legged and women put both legs on one side.
If sitting freely without a backrest causes you problems, there are often small cushions with an extra backrest.
Many traditional Japanese restaurants now even have tables with hollows so you can eat even more comfortably. So don’t worry, you can relax and enjoy the food as it is best for you.
By the way, you can easily order Japanese food in restaurants even without knowing the language. Many stores have bilingual menus or show the dishes reproduced in plastic in the window. Just ask the waiter to step outside and point to the dish you want – it works!
Many travelers are afraid that eating out in Japan has to be expensive, but that’s not necessarily true. Of course, there are gourmet restaurants of the highest level, but there are also very tasty and affordable everyday options that taste just as good.
Related read: Supermarkets in Japan: Common Items Explained
Do you have to eat with chopsticks in Japanese restaurants?
Yes, people eat with chopsticks in Japan – but don’t panic, it’s easy to master even for newbies. More or less. 🙂
The only thing you have to keep in mind is not to wave the chopsticks around wildly, use them as a pointing finger or stick them into your food. That’s considered rude and disrespectful. When you don’t need them, just place them on the stylish hashioki (chopstick holder).
By the way, in Japan it is customary to eat everything and try every morsel of delicious food at least once.
Related read: Japanese Etiquette: How to Act Like You’re Japanese
How to choose a Japanese restaurant
If you want to enjoy classic Japanese cuisine in all its variety and at the highest level, be sure to include an overnight stay in a traditional ryokan during your trip to Japan.
Here, meals are often included in the overnight rate and the delicious Japanese food, often served at star level, more than makes up for the higher prices.
At a ryokan, you’ll get a personal dinner served either in your private room or in one of the traditional dining rooms overlooking ornate Japanese gardens.
This is pure Japan and an unforgettable experience!
Japan is known for its sushi places, also called sushi-ya, which you’ll find in Japan and around the world. More and more people are discovering the light and varied Japanese food and becoming fans.
Kaiten sushi places are particularly convenient, where the appetizers pass by on a conveyor belt and you can simply choose what and how much you want to eat.
If you want to save money on your trip to Japan, you can find a cheap option at Shokudo, a regular eatery. This is also where the local employees like to go on their lunch break or for a quick dinner.
For a perfect Japanese lunch at a small price, it is also recommended to visit one of the cozy izakayas, the Japanese pubs that offer different daily menus.
Street food in Japan
In Japan, there are small food stalls called yatai. The food is freshly prepared there and guests can eat it right on the spot. Yatai often belongs to a larger store or restaurant.
When it comes to street food, many people flinch at first – especially when it comes to exotic and unfamiliar dishes. But in Japan it is really worth it to dare! Not only are the dishes mega delicious and affordable, but they also offer a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture of the country.