It’s gross and annoying, and yet some people won’t stop doing it for some reason.

In recent days, there’s been a lot of talk online about the practice of fusedon (literally “facedown bowl”). This is an underground custom in Japan in which diners, after eating every ounce of food inside, flip their bowls upside down before leaving the shop.

▼ A fusedon montage

Fusedon is said to have come from Yamagata Prefecture, where it is originally said to be a custom of the yamabushi, mountain-dwelling warrior priests. The logic being that turning over one’s bowl shows that every morsel of food was consumed due to its deliciousness, and is a symbol of the diner’s gratitude towards the chef.

▼ The kanji character 伏 appears in both “fusedon” and “yamabushi,” the latter of which literally means “one who prostrates (in prayer) on the mountain”

Yamabushi are known to various parts of Japan, but the custom of fusedon appears to have started off endemic to Yamagata, where online photographic evidence of fusedon online dates back as early as 2006, and it’s maintained a certain level of subculture for years as it slowly spread around the country.

I think we can all agree that warrior monks are cool in many regards and we could learn a lot by emulating their ways, but when it comes to dining etiquette, a group of hermits living in the mountains probably aren’t the ideal role models. And so it was that in 2016, a series of tweets showing fusedon went viral around the rest of Japan, triggering a widespread backlash which called the habit rude and disgusting.

“Everyone stop this. #IHopeThisMessageSpreads

Many in Japan took up the anti-fusedon cause, explaining that it’s messy, unhygienic, and rather than thanking restaurant staff, it simply creates more work for them. The response appeared to work too, and social media posts of fusedon dropped significantly.

▼ A YouTube experiment demonstrating the negative effects of fusedon

But even nowadays images of fusedon can be found from time to time, though at this point it’s hard to determine if it’s being done with sincerity or as a prank based on the 2016 reaction.

Either way, it’s just as widely considered unacceptable now as it was then according to these recent comments online.

“Dirtying someone’s table isn’t a way to say thanks. It seems like some people are trying to justify being jerks.”
“This is the first time I’ve heard of fusedon and it’s stupid. If you want to say thanks, then just say ‘thanks.'”
“This is all just an urban legend, and I doubt that anyone really did a fusedon without the sole purpose of making an Instagram post out of it.”
“I think it would be okay as long as the person doing it also pays an extra 500 yen for the added clean-up they caused.”
“Is this necessary? Isn’t paying them money a good enough way to show your appreciation.”
“Fusedon? No way.”
“This is clearly a selfish act done by narcissistic sociopaths who think they are being considerate.”
“I don’t turn my bowl upside down, but I always tell the staff “It was delicious” when I pay. And in the times when I actually thought the ramen was delicious I tell them “It was very delicious!”

If you needed further proof that what applies to a clan of monastic martial artists in the mountains may not always apply to life in the big city, here it is.

Of course in recent months fusedon sightings have been at an all time low, probably because active restaurants have also been at an all time low. But as these establishments slowly begin to reopen, it’s never been more important to ensure their cleanliness. So, please don’t turn over your bowl at any point while dining out, and just to be safe, please refrain from lengthy conversations about pens in English too.

Source: Twitter/#伏せ丼, Kurotsubaneko No Computer Nikki 2nd Edition
Top image: YouTube/Super Nekomimi Ossan Channel
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