If your Sake Journey is your first trip to Japan, don’t worry – we will be there every step of the way to help you get around and understand Japanese culture. However, if you want some ideas to help prepare for your trip, check out these tips!
Since we’ll be on a Sake Journey through Japan, sake etiquette and manners is something we’ll see a lot of! The most basic sake rule is that it is considered rude in Japan to serve yourself and pour sake into your own cup. Other people at the table will be on the lookout for empty cups and grab the bottle or carafe to fill your cup when they see it is getting empty. When someone offers you sake, it is most polite to pick up your cup off the table and hold the cup with two hands to receive the pour – one holding the cup and one supporting the bottom of the cup. Be sure to take a sip of the sake before setting your cup back down on the table. If you see someone else’s cup is getting empty, you can take the bottle or carafe and offer to pour for them as well. This is also a great way to indirectly signal that you may need your cup filled, too.
Exchanging Business Cards
It is very common in Japan to exchange business cards with people when you meet them for the first time. We’ll be doing some of this for sure when we visit sake Breweries. It’s not required, but if you want to print up simple name cards, or bring extra copies of your own business cards on your trip, it may be a good idea. When presenting your business card, it is considered most polite to hold it with two hands by the corners and have your name facing the person receiving it. Take their card in return and receive it with two hands. Treat their card politely as a sign of respect before carefully putting it away in a dedicated card case. If you sit down at a table directly after exchanging business cards, it is polite to leave the card out – you can set it on your business card case. Never write on a person’s business card or stuff it in your pocket immediately after receiving it. You can check out this video for the basics:
Most westerns are comfortable using chopsticks to eat, but if you are not, it is easy and fun to learn how. The video below will show you the basics. If you do use chopsticks, there are some rules of etiquette that are important to follow in Japan. Some quick guidelines: Never wave or point at people using your chopsticks. Never rub chopsticks together to remove ‘splinters’. Never lick your chopsticks. Never use chopsticks to grab off of a shared plate. Never pierce food items with chopsticks. Never pass items to someone else with your chopsticks. Never stick chopsticks standing up in a bowl of food.
Taking Off Your Shoes
It is quite common in Japan to be asked to remove your shoes to enter certain types of rooms in Japan. You often see this upon entering a tatami style room, or in some restaurants or in peoples homes as well. When you enter a home or restaurant that required removal of shoes, you will see a “genkan”. This is a raised platform, often made of wood, that is considered the real entrance to the home or restaurant. the floor of the genkan is lower and will often be tile or stone. The trick is to remove your shoes and step onto the raised wooden floor without your socks touching the stone/tile floor of the genkan, which is considered “dirty”. when shoes are off, reach down and turn your shoes around so that they are facing out, ready for you to step into them when you leave. It helps a lot in Japan if you have a style of shoe that you can slip on/slip off without touching them or doing up laces. Everyone will see your socks so make sure you have no holes! This video shows how to maneuver the Genkan.