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Mealtimes in Japan


09 April 2020

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Mealtimes in Japan

Mealtimes in Japan

The time of the meals

The Japanese people have their breakfast at around six to seven in the morning. Lunch will be held at twelve to one in the afternoon. Dinner is often eaten at around six till eight o’clock in the evening. Being a place where rules are followed faithfully, coming in late especially if you are an invited guest is not looked upon favorably.

The mode of dressing and sitting during meals

There is no fixed outfit to be worn during a meal. Most people will be in kimonos which also have to be tied towards the left side only. During the meal however there are two ways that you can sit. Traditionally, the Japanese will seat on the tatami mat. This is more widespread than using normal chairs. This also has its proper ways of sitting and in a formal meal setting, everyone will be expected to kneel in a style known as ‘’seiza’’. However, the ladies can sit with both legs facing the same side while men sit cross legged. It is a polite gesture to remove one’s sandals before sitting on the mats so as to preserve them longer and keep them clean.

The seating arrangement

The most important person in the room will seat at the farthest end on the table. This also coincides with being the farthest corner in the room. The host and the least important person seats nearest to the entrance. Sometimes the rooms have an alcove or ‘’tokonoma’’ where there are flower arrangements. The important person also seats on such an elevated position.

During meal time-dos and donts

By this time you will be set to eat. As everyone is correctly placed around the table, wait to be served. Meal times are called ‘’gohan’’ which when translated, loosely mean rice. This name comes from the fact that rice is so widely used in different varieties that it basically connotes meals. When you are given food, say the phrase ‘itadakimasu’ which means you receive the food and once you are done ‘’gochiso sama geshita’’ meaning it was quite a feast! While at the table, don’t put your chopsticks down on the rice as they cross and form the later “v” which symbolizes death. Unfavorable and unpleasant discussions are also frowned upon. If you have to blow your nose, use a tissue and not a handkerchief .Excuse yourself from the room or turn when doing it. Don’t also point at anyone or gesture with the sticks.

The food taken

Any typical meal in Japan will consist of rice, fish sauces and tea. Tea comes at the end of the meal and this is a ceremony in itself. The outfit worn which is a kimono was taken into consideration as some motions involved are meant  for short sleeved kimonos while others are for the long sleeved ones. This is to avoid dirtifying oneself while drinking  the tea.

The Summary- (The Japanese Culture during Meal Times.)

The Japanese are considered to be a cultured people .Meal times in the country are important times for the family to get together. Breakfast is taken from six to seven in the morning, lunches from twelve to two and dinners from around six to eight. During the meals, the clothing that one is supposed to put on is the kimono. The gents are supposed to sit cross legged while the ladies sit with both the legs facing one direction. During the meal times the host should always seats close to the entrance while the most important person will sit on the furthest end of the table. When eating the meal, you are not supposed to talk of unpleasant news or stories.  The position of the chopsticks should also not be shaped in a v shape when placed in a bowl since this symbolizes death. Gesturing using the chopsticks is also prohibited.

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