Culture Restaurant Customs And Courtesies

More information about the unique Okinawan culture
Traveling to a foreign country can be very exciting. However, learning about the culture before heading out on a journey is highly recommended. That way, you won't offend anyone by doing something you would consider the norm.

So, today I thought I would give some examples of what you should know when traveling and dining out in restaurants while on your stay in Okinawa.

When you go to a restaurant, don't grab a seat unless the server allows you. Usually, the server takes you to a table, so wait until the server comes out to you. The exception to this is if there is a sign out that states to seat yourself.

A sign out front to make you aware that you may seat yourself

Do not take out any food or drinks brought from outside to the table as you are supposed to consume what is served in the restaurant. This may sound like nonsense to some, but I have actually witnessed a lot of tourists doing just this.

You can call out for any server from the table by saying "sumimasen!" as there isn't a specific server assigned to any single table. However, if there's a button or bell at the table, you can use it to call a server instead.

Press the button (or ring a bell) at the table for service

When you're finished eating and ready to pay, take the check to the cashier and pay there as they won't charge at the table.

The bill is usually placed on the table in a holder like this Take the check to the cashier

You may need to ring a bell if nobody is at the counter.

Ring the bell at the cashier if nobody is available

And pay what is due there.

Pay for your meal at the counter and not the table

In Japan, tips are not required so don’t feel bad for not leaving one; simply pay whatever is stated on the bill.

Although some people think that tipping in Japan might be rude, it is not. It’s merely us trying to work hard for the paycheck and not for the tip. We even think it is rude for us to take it, so don’t worry about it!

We would love you to learn more about our Okinawan culture so that everyone can be comfortable, and, happy travels!
The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of Okinawa.Org.
  • Like
Reactions: Reylia33 and WA6
About Author
Snow is the wife of @David, co-founder of Okinawa.Org, and a local national. She dedicates her time contributing posts about the Japanese language in the Language Corner forum as well as posts about Okinawan culture and other amazing things to do in Okinawa in the Okinawa blog.


I was always under the impression that tipping in Okinawa, and Japan, was rude. This is because the information about tipping being rude is so frequently passed around.

It's surprising to learn that tipping isn't rude and that it's just not something typically done in the culture.

However, I see more and more places with tip jars at the counters. These are typically restaurants catering to tourists and not locals though.
  • Like
Reactions: WA6
I hope tipping won't become our custom though we do see a lot of places now that accept tips:rolleyes:
  • Like
Reactions: WA6
I think so many places now taking an advantage of Americans being stationed here for tipping.
I don't mind tipping, but I don't like places off base that are expecting it.

Sign In or Sign Up

Forgot your password?
Don't have an account? Create an Account

Article Information

Last Update

More in Culture

More from Snow

Share This Article