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Is it rude to put soy sauce on rice in Japan?

Rice is a staple food in Japan, and many people enjoy adding soy sauce to their meals. But is it polite to do so in Japan? In this article, we explore the etiquette surrounding soy sauce and rice in Japan.

What is soy sauce?

In Japan, soy sauce is a popular condiment that is used on rice and other dishes. Soy sauce is made from soybeans and water. It has a salty, umami flavor that is often used in cooking. Soy sauce is also used as a table condiment or dipping sauce. Some people in Japan add soy sauce to their rice before they eat it to add flavor. Others use soy sauce as a way to clean their plate.

Why do people put soy sauce on rice in Japan?

Many people in Japan put soy sauce on their rice to add flavor and umami. Umami is a Japanese word that means “savory” or “flavorful.” Soy sauce is a common source of umami. People in Japan also put soy sauce on their rice to make it taste salty and sweet.

Is it rude to put soy sauce on rice in Japan?

When it comes to etiquette, there are a few things that can be considered rude in Japan. One of these is putting soy sauce on rice.

There are a few reasons why this might be considered rude. Firstly, soy sauce is a common condiment in Japan, and many people see it as a symbol of wealth. Secondly, many Japanese people believe that soy sauce should only be used on meat or seafood dishes, not on rice. Finally, adding soy sauce to rice could be seen as implying that the rice is not good enough without it.

So, should you avoid putting soy sauce on your rice in Japan? Not necessarily – but you may want to be careful about how much you use it.


Many people in Japan don’t put soy sauce on their rice, believing it to be impolite. Is this true? Let’s take a look at the reasoning behind this custom. Soy sauce is made from soybeans, which are an East Asian crop. In China and other parts of East Asia, soy sauce is commonly used as a condiment on rice because it enhances the flavor and aroma of the dish. However, in Japan, where rice is central to most meals and is typically eaten with miso soup or another savory dish, putting soy sauce on top of cooked white rice is seen as too westernized and unnecessary. Some people in Japan do add soy sauce to their brown rice dishes—but not as a condiment per se, more like an extra step to make sure the rice has been properly cooked.



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