Japanese Entertainment Etiquette

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In December and January, Japan heats up with the Party fever. In addition to western Christmas and New Year’s parties, Japanese people customarily hold bonenkai to celebrate the year’s finale. Bonenkai vary in style, being big or small, formal or informal, a few hours long or overnight, etc. People typically join at least one bonenkai. Some attend both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day parties as well, and it’s not unusual for a person to experience 10 parties a month or to go party-hopping during a single day. The Japanese system is greatly different from the western one, so if you party Japanese style this year there are a couple of things that you should know beforehand in order to not be embarrassed (or embarrass someone else). Here are some tips that may help you.

Oshibori, not napkins
Before the meal begins, servers will bring you an oshibori, a wet towel on a special plate. In some restaurants, the servers even unfold the oshibori in front of you and hand it to you. When you finish cleaning your hands with the oshibori, put it back on the plate or on the table if there’s no plate. As the servers take the oshibori away before serving the food, there’s no napkin for you to use during the meal

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