Must-Know 8 Japanese Drinking Etiquettes

Japan has a unique and straightforward drinking etiquette. If you know the basics, you will feel more comfortable and enjoy socialising with Japanse people

日本にほんには  独特どくとくな  飲酒いんしゅルールが  あります。

あなたが  基本きほんを  っていれば、おさけを む 機会きかいを より  気持きもちよく  かんじ、  日本にほんの  ひとたちと  交流こうりゅうを  たのしめることでしょう。

Don’t take the first sip before Kanpai

乾杯かんぱい!」の  まえに  んでは  ダメ

When you drink with Japanese people, don’t take the first sip before somebody in your group raise a toast, “Kanpai.” Kanpai takes place after all members of your group receive drinks.

Timing is important.

Go for beer, sake or whisky for Kanpai


Japanese are likely to order the same drink in a big group for toast because socialising is mainly done to boost team cohesion. Most Japanese go for a beer, Japanese rice wine, “sake,” or whisky for the first drink. It is rare to see the person who orders a cocktail for toast.

Don’t raise your glass higher than a senior person

グラスを  先輩せんぱいより  たかく  げません!

Before starting Kanpai, raise your glass and pay attention to whoever gives a toast. At this point, bear in mind that your glass is not higher than a senior person’s glass. Hold it slightly lower.

Don’t pour a drink in your glass by your self

じぶんの  グラスに  じぶんで  ものを  れない!

When you need a refill, wait until somebody comes and pours it for you. Especially in a big party, bottles are shared with other members. Even if a beer bottle is in front of you, it is a communal bottle.

Pour a drink for guests, the seniors or eldest first

先輩せんぱい  または  おきゃくさまの  グラスに  ものを  れてあげる!

In Japan, the juniors generally pour a drink for the seniors and important guests first at a business dinner or a company’s party.

Show courtesy when someone is pouring your glass

だれかが  あなたの  グラスに  ものを  れているときに  おれいを  う!

When someone comes to you for refilling, hold up your glass with both hands and look at it, and say “thank you.” If you can not drink anymore, just say, “sorry, I can not drink anymore.” Another way is leaving a drink full so that no one will come for a top-up.

Insist on filling a glass

率先そっせんして  ほかの  ひとの  グラスに  ものを  れる!

Japanese tend to refuse a refilling as they think that many refillings are embarrassing. Even if your offer is rejected once or twice, it does not mean that they can not drink any more. It’s a humble gesture. Try to push your offer a few times.

Be a long distance runner

ながい  時間じかん  がまん!

Japanese drink parties sometimes continue until the following morning. If you are not a strong drinker, adjust your pace and quantity. Otherwise, you will found yourself joining the crowd of business people sleeping on a road.

Last Remarks

Drinking is an essential event for Japanese people to deepen mutual understanding and a sense of bonding. Japanese often get more talkative and approachable even if they look grumpy in your office.

Enjoy the unique cultural experience!


Related links:
Company get-together ≒ Job:会社の飲み会 ≒ 仕事? 
Essential Japanese Business Card and Attire Etiquette
6 Must-Know Japanese Business Etiquette
What you should know about train etiquette in Japan


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