The other day I took my family out for sushi because it was Kodomo no Hi or “Children’s Day,” one of the holidays that makes up Japan’s Golden Week. After eating several plates of delicious sushi delivered by endless conveyor belt, I reached for a toothpick, but because I’ve lived in Japan a long time, I unconsciously did what everyone does here: covering my mouth with my other hand while I used the toothpick, to hide my teeth from others. This is one of the many subtle mannerisms that you unconsciously pick up when living in Japan. Some others including always receiving business cards or any kind of gift with both hands, referring to myself by pointing at my nose instead of my chest, and using the “Lucky Cat” waving gesture to beckon someone over, despite the fact that it seems to mean “go away” when you’re not used to it. Also, it’s impossible to avoid bowing when speaking Japanese on the phone…I know someday I’ll get caught doing it while back home in the States and will be very embarrassed.
Cover your mouth while using a toothpick after eating sushi.