Q. Why don’t people in Japan eat while walking?


Table manners in Japan dictate that one is to sit and eat food served in dishes with chopsticks. Chopsticks were introduced into Japan from China, and by the Nara period (710– 794), using chopsticks as a pair was the accepted way of eating.

Table manners in the West also, require one to sit and eat using forks, knives and spoons. One difference, however, is that bread is eaten with the hands. At French–style restaurants, bread is simply placed on the tablecloth and picked up and eaten as bread crumbs fly. The Japanese are not accustomed to eating this way.

Sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers, etc. are made so that they cannot be eaten unless picked up with the hands. In comparison, Japanese food in general, even its staple food rice, cannot be eaten with the hands.

Rice balls devised for outdoor eating and food bought at night stalls can be eaten while walking but these are exceptions.

It was an inevitable consequence that eating with the hands and much more so, eating while walking was regarded as bad manners. However, now that many concession stands have sprung up in Japan, there are many youths who are very open about eating while walking.