Japanese Table Manners 101:
1. You probably know this already but it’s perfectly fine to slurp your soup or drink in Japan. As a matter of fact, if you don’t, you’ll most probably come off as rude because you don’t appreciate the food given to you. Say “itadakimasu” (いただきます）before eating which has no exact English translation but could mean: “Let’s eat!” or “I’m digging in!”. After the meal, say: “gochisousamadeshita!” (ごちそうさまでした) which translates to “Thank you for the food!”
2. Don’t stick your chopsticks to your rice. Just neatly put them beside your bowl (using a chopstick holder) if your hand is fatigued from holding them because you’d be calling bad omen if you do. In Japan a similar ritual is done during funerals so you wouldn’t want to do that in front of the table. Another no no would be crossing your chopsticks. It must be parallel when set aside for the same reason that it resembles a funeral ritual.
3. Hold your chopsticks well and with dignity. It is considered disgraceful when you eat sloppily and unsure with your chopsticks. Don’t force it if you can’t use chopsticks as well. The Japanese will appreciate your honesty and offer you spoon and fork instead.
4. Don’t be picky! When you are offered food, don’t “browse” through the viand because it seems as if you are greedy. Do not stir using your chopsticks. I know this is very hard to do especially because miso soups end up getting suspended but it’s impolite to use your chopsticks as a stirrer. Just to avoid any mishaps, just use your chopsticks as it is. Use it for eating good food and not as anything else.
5. Lastly, it is mandatory to say “Cheers” or in Japanese: “Kanpai!” (かんぱい) before drinking sake, beer or any drink shared. It’s considered ungrateful to just gulp without inviting everyone to drink with you.