Japanese Noodle-Eating Etiquette

The spoon provided is for drinking the soup.
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Noodle dishes abound in Japan, from soups like ramen and udon to heartier dishes like yakisoba. While it may be just as common to see a Japanese student eating ramen as it would be to see an American student eating it, many restaurants take these "cheap" meals to a different level. When visiting Japan, you're sure to eat noodles at least once while you're there, if not every day.

1 Good Manners

It's customary to eat noodles with chopsticks, but if you have trouble getting the slippery noodles to your mouth, few people will fault you for using a fork instead. If you want to stick with the chopsticks, getting your mouth closer to the bowl will help. Though Western culture typically frowns on making a slurping sound when eating noodles, this is actually normal in Japan, according to Lonely Planet. You'll typically receive a large spoon with your meal for drinking the soup, but if you don't get one, it's fine to lift the bowl to your mouth to drink the soup. Don't feel a pressure to drink every last drop, though -- it's the noodles that are the important part of the meal.

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.

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