10 Things You Should Know About Eating Out In Japan

10 Things You Should Know About Eating Out In Japan

2015.12.21

Japan's restaurants have some unique rules and manners that you won't find in other countries. We introduce some rules that will make your Japan trip smoother.

Translated by MATCHA

Written by Hiromasa Uematsu

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3. Water is Free

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In Japan, you are served water as soon as you get seated. This water, called ohiya, is always free. Some travelers are surprised to get it, especially when they receive cold water in the winter. Though, if you're lucky, you might receive hot tea instead of icy water.

4. Surprisingly Expensive "Cheap" Food

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Image courtesy of Superb Ramen At Inoue, Tsukiji Market Workers' Special Spot

Pizza delivery is fairly reasonable overseas, just as samgyeopsal in Korea is; they are really popular dishes in their own countries. However in Japan this isn't the case, and these are just two examples of the "supposed-to-be-cheap" foods that might set you back a few thousand yen more than you expect.

But don't feel too bad! You can enjoy Japanese food like sushi, tempura and ramen at very low prices.

5. Order Drinks First at Izakaya

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Image courtesy of New Employees Must Check! Manners When Drinking in Japan

This isn't really a rule, but customers almost always start with drinks first and then order food at izakaya. Many choose beer as their first drink. If that's the drink of your choice, try this common phrase when making your first order: Toriaezu bīru kudasai ("beer for now, please").

6. All-You-Can-Eat/Drink

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Image courtesy of Budget All-You-Can-Eat Sushi, Umegaoka Sushi No Midori in Tokyo

Some restaurants offer tabe hodai "all-you-can-eat" and nomi hodai "all-you-can-drink" service. You can enjoy as much food and as many drinks (soft drinks and some alcoholic beverages) of the restaurant's choice until you can't eat/drink anymore (or until a set time-limit is reached), all at a reasonable price.

All-you-can-eat/drink service is especially common at izakaya, yakiniku (grilled meat) and sushi restaurants.

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