Westerners who visit Japan often find themselves confused about why Japanese people sit on the floor when they eat.
This is because tables are much lower in Japan than in Western countries, and many people sit uncomfortably hunched over their food while eating dinner at a low table.
However, there is an apparent reason why Japanese tables are so low, and it has to do with social behavior.
Japanese people tend to sit on the floor while eating rather than sitting at a high table because they enjoy spending time with friends and family. Westerners often find that eating at higher tables is more efficient since it allows them to eat quickly, but this comes with the cost of ignoring the importance of social interaction.
Today, we’ll examine why Japanese people sit on the floor while eating dinner and how it can negatively impact their health.
The Importance of Table Height in Japan.
The table height in Japan is just 27 inches tall, which means that people of all ages must either sit on the floor or use cushions for dining comfortably at a standard dining table.
This shows that the importance placed on socializing with family and friends while eating dinner is more important than being comfortable during mealtime in Japan.
What’s interesting about this difference is that Japanese people don’t have a problem eating on the floor because they think it adds to family bonding time and getting close to those around you.
Meanwhile, Westerners may find that low tables cause them to spend less time eating in front of each other.
To better understand the difference between these two cultures, we must first examine why Western tables are higher in the first place.
How the Western Table Became Higher Than Japanese Tables.
Long ago, European people would sit at a table to eat, and most social interaction occurred from behind a table or a curtain.
In addition, Europeans found it difficult to eat while standing up continuously. Hence, they created a high enough table for people to sit comfortably and continue eating.
Eventually, Europeans added chairs to the tables so that people didn’t have to stand all night or kneel on the floor during dinner time.
Another factor contributing to why Westerners like higher tables is that it’s easier for their bodies to bend over low tables.
As a result, Westerners find it difficult to bend down to low tables and are often forced to eat fast so that their necks don’t come in contact with the table.
However, Japanese people don’t have this issue because they grew up eating off of low tables, and they’ve become accustomed to having their bodies bent over their plates when dining.
In addition, Japanese people also spend more time eating than Westerners. As a result of taking your shoes off to enter a house, fewer accidents occur inside the home because it’s easier to walk on rugs and other surfaces without causing damage to them.
This is why you often see table legs situated in the corner of a Japanese home, so guests don’t have to worry about potential accidents.
Why do Westerners Like High Tables, and Japanese People Prefer Low Tables?
While it’s easier for Westerners to eat at high tables, they rarely find time to sit down and enjoy a meal with their family. Meanwhile, Japanese people prefer low dining tables because they bond over food and talk instead of eating.
While some people prefer one culture’s way of dining over another, both can improve their lifestyles by learning something from the other.
For example, you could have your family and friends over for dinner while sitting on cushions to build stronger social bonds with others or learn from Japanese people how to make delicious rice balls.
Going beyond differences such as these could be one way for people from different cultures to learn a thing or two about each other and how we can all live healthier lives than ever before.
What is a low Japanese table called?
It is called a “Yoshoku” dining table with an average height for the Japanese.
Do Japanese people have dining tables?
Yes, I have them.
But it is not a dining table; it’s an eating-and-sitting table or a Japanese-style low table.
Do people sit on cushions at low tables?
It is common in Japan to use cushions on the floor when you have dinner at a low table. Using them, your feet are loosely touching the floor with no shoes so that you can feel comfortable enough to stretch your legs out straight (be able to stretch your body freely) on the floor without any discomfort.
How Tall are traditional Japanese tables?
They are about 30-40cm high.
What are Japanese table manners??
A: When you sit on the floor, Japanese table manners require that your knees are drawn up, and you have to huddle a little. The main thing is to get used to it. It’s not good manners if they are bent out. You can see this from “the position of legs when sitting on the tatami.”
Originally posted on July 16, 2021 @ 11:07 pm
As a lifelong traveler and founder of lovefortraveling.com, I, Alex Deidda, have always been driven by my passion for exploring new places and cultures.
Throughout the years, I have had the opportunity to live in various countries, each offering unique perspectives and experiences.
My love for traveling led me to create lovefortraveling.com, a website and blog dedicated to helping people plan their trips.