1. Eat your sushi in one bite. Two bites is acceptable, however, don’t put the sushi back on the plate if you bit it in half already. Once you pick it up, eat all of it and keep uneaten parts in the chopsticks ready to be consumed.
2. Go easy on the soy sauce. Soaking your sushi in soy sauce is disrespectful because it implies that the original flavors are not good without soy sauce. Use light amounts only, to enhance the flavor. Always place your “nigiri-sushi” upside-down in the soy sauce and eat it “rice-side up.” Don’t pinch it too hard, and place it so the fish touches your tongue. (The soy sauce will cause the rice to fall apart.)
3. Use the washcloth. This is the oshibori, placed in front of you when you sit down. It’s a small, damp hand towel to clean your fingers with both before and during the meal. After wiping your hands with it, fold it and place it back in its container (usually a little basket or tray). It can be reused during the meal and it is even polite to wipe your face with it.
4. Feel free to use your fingers as utensils, instead of chopsticks. Even though most people use chopsticks, sushi is traditionally a finger food and it is completely acceptable to eat it that way. Try not to ask for forks or knives. Sushi is not steak. Some restaurants are more forgiving of this request than others though, and may have a few forks and knives available. Other people may think you’re a little rude for not trying though, so it’s considerate to apologize for your incapacity.
5. Rubbing disposable wooden chopsticks (waribashi) together is also bad manners. If you do this, you’re implying that the chopsticks are cheap and have splinters, thereby insulting your host. Avoid rubbing; if your chopsticks do really splinter, discreetly ask for a new pair.
6. Know the difference between different types of sushi. Sushi etiquette includes having an understanding of what it is you’re consuming. The types of sushi are:
7. Ask the chef what’s good, and let him pick for you, especially if it’s your first time eating sushi. This shows your respect for what he does, and maybe you’ll get a good snack.
8. If there is sake for drinking, it is boorish to pour sake for yourself. Pour some into cups for others, and let your companions pour sake for you.