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
日本には 独特な 飲酒ルールが あります。
あなたが 基本を 知っていれば、お酒を 飲む 機会を より 気持ちよく 感じ、 日本の 人たちと 交流を 楽しめることでしょう。
Don’t take the first sip before Kanpai
「乾杯！」の 前に 飲んでは 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 先輩より 高く 上げません！
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 飲み物を 入れない！
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 または お客さまの グラスに 飲み物を 入れてあげる！
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
誰かが あなたの グラスに 飲み物を 入れているときに お礼を 言う！
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
率先して ほかの 人の グラスに 飲み物を 入れる！
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
長い 時間 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.
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!
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