otoshi

Why appetizers are giving tourists and restaurant owners in Japan a headache

It may seem like a way to rip you off, but it’s actually a delicious aspect of Japanese restaurant culture.

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Learn how to drink with Japanese people in this funny and informative YouTube series【Videos】

MOVIE LIFE KYOTO is a video series which aims to introduce Japanese culture to foreigners in a light-hearted and humorous fashion. With English narration and Japanese subtitles, they’re filled with little factoids and hilariously on-point observations that will be of interest to foreign visitors and a source of much ‘that’s so true!’ amusement for Japanese people, too!

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Otōshi: Japan’s Curious Compulsory Appetizers

As anyone who has ever entered a Japanese-style pub, or izakaya, will tell you, whether you want it or not, as soon as you’ve ordered some form of alcohol, a small plate or bowl will be placed in front of you alongside your chopsticks and hot towel. The contents of said vessel are almost always a mystery to the customer prior to its arrival; it could be noodles, vegetables, fish or even meat. Sometimes it’s piping hot, sometimes it’s as cold as the ice in your Bill Murray-inspired Suntory whiskey.

Known as お通し (otōshi) or sometimes 突き出し (tsukidashi), this appetizer is given to each and every alcohol-imbibing customer, and sometimes even to those only sipping on soft drinks, regardless of whether you’re drinking at a chain pub or a family owned watering hole. The customer has no say whatsoever in what the snack will be, and even if it remains completely untouched it is added to the bill, costing on average 200-500 yen (US$2-5) per head.

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