I am far from qualified to speak about table manners but coming back to Japan, I have realized that Japanese table manners are a bit out of the norm from many cultures. 

First, table settings are layed out, so that you will be using the chopsticks with your right hand.  Many Japanese are taught to use the chopstics with right hand since they are young, so if you are just starting, might as well start using your right hand.

What is unique about Japanese table manner is that you hold your chopstics on the right hand and with your left, if it appropriate to pick up and hold a bowl.  However only bowl or cup like pieces are to be picked up and held with your left hand.  Not plates either round or rectangular, these are to be left on the table.


Okay, here I am not doing it quite properly, I should have my palm facing up and have the bottom of the bowl or cup like china sitting on my fingers and side supported by my thumb.  I was too focused with taking picture here...

And it is also appropriate to have your mouth actually touching the bowl when ingesting soup like meal, such as miso soup, udon, soba, etc.

And from time to time you may notice Japanese making slurping noise when consuming noodles and soups.  This is also appropriate in Japanese table.  It is said that you are ingesting air together with the food and enhance the flavour (like wine tasting) as well as having cooling effect when cosuming hot soup.  And Japanese do serve their soups hot!

These 3 specific manners are inappropriate in most other cultures.  For example, in Chinese table setting, one should not hold a bowl in your hand while eating, in an appropriate setting.


 Here I was enjoying Summer Japanese lunch course in Tochigi, Japan.

Started with nice and cool amuse or appetisers.


Followed by bowl, on top is the Japanese mustartd.  Quite hot like wasabi, it sure cleared my sinuses.


I have forgot to take picture of the main, which was local grilled chicken.  It sure was delicious.

Here is the end of the meal.  Japanese course meal usually ends with rice, soup and pickles.
This rice was cooked with sea eel and was the highlight of the course as it should be.

The course was followed by desert and coffee but traditionally Japanese do not eat desert after a meal, Now a days, trend is changing but in more traditional setting desert may be skipped or fruits are served in place of desert.

And not to forget, Japanese says *ITADAKIMASU* before the meal and *GOCHISOSAMA* after the meal to thank the food before them.


All of these delicious food were served in a unique setting in Ustunomiya, Tochigi.  Home of Ooya stone, which was also used for original Imperial Hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  
The restaurant was originally storage barn for sugar and other agriculturl products using Ooya stone, it was rennovated years ago as a restaurant.



Beautiful texture of the Ooya stone wall.  I peronally loved the rawness of saw patterns.

In contrast to my expectation, the room was not lively in terms of sound, echo was not so noticeable due to very porous nature of Ooya stones.  In fact the restaurant have Jazz and Classiscal sessions several times a year. 
I would love to visit again for such an occasion.



http://www.ishi-no-kura.jp/   (Japnese text only site)