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Every last grain? 2007/12/18 07:26
Hello! I was reading that the Japanese eat all of their food, like no scraps what-so-ever. Is that true? How are you supposed to eat every grain of rice? Does leaving some food in the bowl actually mean that you want more?
Thanks!
by RainyDays  

Food 2007/12/18 10:53
RainyDays,

I was reading that the Japanese eat all of their food, like no scraps what-so-ever. Is that true?

Not all Japanese people think or act in the same way, but many people brought up before or during the second world war regard food as something that should not be wasted. I think this no different from people in other countries who experienced food shortages during the war. As a guest, leaving food uneaten might suggest to the host that you didn't like it, but again, I don't think this is particular to Japanese.

Does leaving some food in the bowl actually mean that you want more?

Never heard of that. I would interpret cleaning one's plate as meaning you could still eat more.
by Dave in Saitama rate this post as useful

yes 2007/12/18 11:33
Even today, children are taught by parents and teachers to eat every grain on your plate.

Whether you're polite enough to obey this is another story, but you shouldn't waste crop that farmers paid hard work for, and especially in an ecology-conscious era like today, you should decrease waste as much as possible. That's how the Japanese think.

I don't think eating every grain of rice is a difficult thing to do. You either pick them up with your chopsticks or scoop it with your fork or spoon. No problem.

Leaving ONE BITE-FULL of rice in the RICE bowl actually does imply you want more. The host/hostess can take a look at your bowl and if (s)he sees that "sign" (s)he can ask if you want more, which will be a less "greedy" way than for you to be the one to ask first.

In other words, you are to have one bite-full of rice left in your bowl when asking for another serving. This applies both at homes and restaurants.
by Uco, Japanese mom rate this post as useful

. 2007/12/18 13:03
Rainy days in case you know or didn't know, this question reminds me of the poster who asked how do we eat rice grain by grain.

When you cook rice, it becomes sticker/thicker and they stick together where it is very easy to eat with chopsticks, or other utensils, and even in some cultures (not Japanese) with your fingers.

You don't literally eat rice one grain at a time, that would be silly.
by John rate this post as useful

. 2007/12/18 13:05
Totally random but someone brought up that old thread before I remembered it. You can see it under the FOODS section.
by John rate this post as useful

....marry ugly wife... 2007/12/18 13:25
I am an Asian brought up in a traditional family. As a kid, my mum would lecture us not to waste foods, as a matter of fact, to be thrifty. For a boy, she would say if you don't finish your rice you would marry an ugly wife with pimples on the face. I do not know what is the story for a girl.
I guess the teaching as not to waste foods is universal whether in a rich or poor country.
Is my wife ugly, fortunately, she is just a beauty because I ate my rice!!!
by tju rate this post as useful

I think it is partly Animist / Shinto 2007/12/18 14:48
I was taught to not waste food by my grandma. I also think that it comes from our Shinto religion where everything has a soul, so not wasting anything is kind of paying respect to the animal or plant that you had to kill in order to survive. How Japan has since become one of the most wasteful countries in the world, I do not know.
by Some J guy rate this post as useful

. 2007/12/18 15:24
you can try eating up every morsel of food in your bowl, but then people would think that you have not eaten for days, thus resulting in that behaviour. haha. but yeah, that's what we were taught when we were young: not to waste food and eat up every grain of rice. but for me, i find that as long as you clear up your bowl to show that you are not wasting a substantial amount of rice (like less than a spoon), i would consider that as the meal being finished off clean.
by geraldine rate this post as useful

Precious food 2007/12/18 18:18
Some J guy wrote:

I also think that it comes from our Shinto religion where everything has a soul...

Except that that way of thinking is not peculiar to Shinto or Japan...
by Dave in Saitama rate this post as useful

Buddists aren't to waste either 2007/12/18 18:28
Buddist monks in training must eat every grain on his plate, THEN pour tea in their rice bowls and wipe the surface of the bowl with takuwan pickles, and then drink up the tea. That way, you literally can eat every bit of what was in your bowl and wash the bowl at the same time.
by Uco rate this post as useful

just so that I don't get anything wrong 2007/12/18 18:30
As I recall it, it could have been warm water instead of tea. Monks in training are to be modest.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Anime"Mottaiai Obake" 2007/12/18 21:38
This cartoon was public information to children, said donft leave any food.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zg1NCZVS5Q4

Story; One evening, the children were invited dinner by monk. But they had leaved some foods on dish. On mid night, the monsters appeared and scared children. Next morning, the monk taught children gThe monsters are MOTTIANAI OBAKE, Donft leave any foodh

gObakeh means monster or ghost. gMottainaih meansc..Sorry I canft find suitable word in English.
by anime fan rate this post as useful

do you mean mottainai ? 2007/12/18 22:28
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mottainai

"it is so wasteful that things are not made full use of their value."
by gozomark rate this post as useful

Ah, well in that case 2007/12/19 04:33
Hmm, so I understand that it would be best to eat ALL the food. But now i wonder would it be best to ask for a smaller serving? Naturally I am very petite, so I dont have a huge stomach (Thats just my genes). When I travel to Japan I want to be a good guest. So would it be normal for a Japanese host(es) to ask "How much do you want?"
by RainyDays rate this post as useful

... 2007/12/19 11:40
A Japanese host(ess) may ask "How much do you want?" or they may not.

In any case, if you know you're not going to eat much, or if you know there are certain foods you just possibly cannot accept, you should say so in advance before you take a bite, or even before they start cooking. Then nothing will be wasted. But keep in mind that Japanese servings are generally much smaller than say American servings or most European servings.

On the other hand, for those who eat a lot there is a phrase, "When lodging for free, be humble as you ask for the third serving."
by Uco rate this post as useful

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