Dos and Don’ts of Drinking in Japan
Are you a foreigner staying in Japan? Either for business or pleasure, you probably will be invited for drinks. It will be good to know a few pointers about the etiquette involved in drinking with the Japanese. Let’s avoid some unnecessary embarrassing situations.
At the table, before drinking begins, just follow the lead of your hosts or local friends, don’t start the course or push others to begin. Sometimes, your company for the night may decide to take a relaxed approach as they want their Western guests to feel comfortable.
Firstly, make an effort to meet everyone, if you don’t know them already; give respectful bows. Never pour yourself a drink or take a drink alone; that’s the most basic rule of drinking etiquette in Japan. Don’t touch yours until everyone’s received their drinks. When someone offers a kampai!, then raise your glass and take the first drink, making eye contact with the nearest person as you raise your glass. Be sure that the glass of the most senior person should be slightly higher than yours.
What do you drink in Japan?
For social events and business occasions, beer is popular. Sake is still common, though whiskey and bourbon are gaining following. Your Japanese company may prefer to drink sake with you just for the experience. Drink the same drink as the others. Be a team player and don’t order any drink that’s different from theirs. Drinking in Japan is about having a shared experience. Know that beer is usually with meals, sake is enjoyed with appetizers or light fare. Sake often accompanies sashimi, and if your Japanese drinking session begins with sushi and sashimi, know how to use chopsticks and some basic sushi etiquette.
Allow others seated close to refill your glass and you should reciprocate. Ideally, by the end of the evening, you will have poured a drink for everyone present. The younger or lower in status pour for the senior members of the group or honored guest first. If someone pours for you show courtesy, hold the glass with both hands and be attentive to their gesture. If someone makes eye contact with you and expresses interest in taking a drink with you, lift your cup immediately; it’s impolite to ignore it or refuse to take a sip.
By night’s end, saying otsukaresama deshita (translates to “you’re tired”) is appropriate for conveying a sense of “good work” for a job well done, an extremely nice way of saying they are a hard worker.
Getting Started Japanese-Style in Bellevue
Begin a night of drinking Japanese-styled at Sushi In Joy, your favorite sushi stopover in Bellevue. We can offer you more tips to-go where etiquette drinking in Japan is concern. Kanpai!