Dining Tips

Reading the menu

Don’t worry about not being able to read the menu.

Many restaurants have picture menus or displays out front to show their customers what they offer.

Just simply point at the picture of the dish you would like.

If the server is not busy, you can also take them outside to show them what you would like to order from the display.

If you are not sure what to order, you can ask the server what their “osusume” (recommendation) is.

Making your order

Your waiter will usually wait until you call them, so please don’t be shy! Say “sumi-masen [soome-mahsen]” (excuse me) to call them over.

If there is a bell or call button located at your table, you can press it to call your server over.

Drink refills

Both tea and water are usually complimentary and free re-fills are available.

Most of the time there is an extra charge for refills on all other drinks, including coffee, juices, and sodas.

If you order a drink with your meal they will sometimes ask you if you want your drink before, with, or after your meal.


Some restaurants require you to settle your check at the register or at the table.

Each situation is different, so please check with your server which is preferred.

When paying at the register, there may be a small tray placed in front of you.

This is a money tray where you can place your payment.

This is a common business custom practiced in Japan.

Japan is still mainly a cash-only society.

The majority of businesses will not accept credit cards.

There is no need to tip your server.

Japan doesn’t have an official tipping system.