I drew this diagram for you to illustrate the simplicity of kamiza and shimoza, but then I realized the only camera I had the rather shoddy one my phone…

Beautiful Deportment 14
The Upper and Lower Seat in a Japanese Room

From ancient times, we have considered the kamiza (upper seat) and shimoza (lower seat). It is not unconditionally established whether the kamiza and shimoza are left or right. It changes depending on the time, location, and people.

  • In Japan, the side of the sunrise while facing south is the kamiza.

There is the saying: With the Emperor sitting at the North Star, it is ranked from the east facing south. It means that the Emperor is at the highest seat, sitting so the north star can be seen above him. Because the ranks are aligned from the East while facing south, the East is kamiza and the West is shimoza.

Usually in Japan, the exact center is the first ranked seat. Next, in rank is the East when facing south which is where the sun rises, and then below that is in the West, where the sun sets. The East when facing South is left, and the West is right. So left is kamiza, and right is shimoza. Because this left and right direction is judged by looking at it from the perspective of the kamiza, if you are looking at it from the shimoza, the left becames the right side and the right becomes the left side. (In Western countries, South facing East is the higher rank and north is the lower rank).

That the kamiza is on the right while looking at it from shimoza can be seen in how the hina matsuri dolls are displayed. Looking at it, the male doll (the prince), the Minister of the Left, the Sakura, and the lady-in-waiting carrying the long-handled decanter are on the right. Also, this is same as when one passes another person when walking and you keep to the left, leaving the right side–the kamiza–open. In China, there were periods of “esteeming the left, esteeming the right (Shousa, Shouyuu)” depending on the age. The Tang and Song periods, by which Japan was much influenced, were ages that esteemed the left. The word “demotion (lit. moving-left)”, meaning there is no leaving from the right, is from the Six-Dynasties Warring Period, which esteemed the right side.

In a washitsu, the kamiza is in front of the tokonoma and shimoza is the seat nearest the door. When seating many people, the first seat is in front of the tokonoma. The second seat is the right side when facing the tokonoma and the third seat is the left side. This is in the case of a hongatte (standard) room. In the case of a gyakugatte (reversed) room, the second seat is reversed with the third.






Handling Japanese Tableware

The Place Setting of a Japanese Meal
The main tray has 1 type of soup and two types of side dishes. The rice is placed at the near left, the soup is at the near right. Generally, above the rice is the deep dish, and above the soup is the flat dish. The footed dish is placed in the center of the tray.

Handling Lids (In the Case of a Rice Bowl’s Lid)

  1. Hold the foot of the lid by sandwiching it between the pointer finger and thumb of your left hand. Support the other side of the foot with your two remaining fingers.
  2. Open the lid by lifting the rim closest to you first, and so the rim is facing upward.
  3. Bring it back to above your knees, support it with your right hand, and fix your grip so the lid is facing up.
  4. Place it under the tray on the left side near where the rice bowl is.




I am getting hungry for some takuan

Ettiquette of Japanese-Style Meals 2
How to Eat Washoku
When eating washoku, avoid continuing to eat only rice, or only side dishes, but eat rice, soup, rice, and then a side dish.

The Order of Eating Washoku
How one eats washoku has a certain sequence. First, take the chopstick in the right, take the rice bowl in the left hand, eat two bites of rice, and return it to the tray. Next, while holding the chopsticks in the right hand, take the soup bowl, and drink some brothe. Eat some ingredients of the soup, then after drinking some brothe again, return it to the tray. After eating rice again, eat the side dish to the far side of the rice. In the same manner, after eating rice, soup, and more rice, eat the dish to the far side of the soup.
To eat something along with a sauce such as sashimi, hold the sauce dish in the left hand, and eat holding it over your knees. If there is a dish with a variety of vegetables and fish, after eating rice, first the vegetables are eaten, and then the fish is eaten. This is out of a concern to avoid a lingering scent of the previous dish. Avoid eating side dishes without eating rice, also eating side dishes straight from the soup, and continuously eating the same side dish. Rather, eat rice, soup, rice, and then a side dish.

Having Seconds During Washoku
Other than at the end of the meal, make sure not eat rice after pouring hot water or tea over it. Also, make sure not to eat by scooping up rice that hasn’t hot water or tea poured over it. Of course, eat everything to the last bite. In washoku, pick up the dishes of soup or things that drip broth, and eat. If there is no such saucer, the lid of the rice bowl or such can be substituted.
When having seconds of rice, definatly set down your chopsticks. When asking for seconds of rice, leave a little rice left over. At then end, eat so not even one grain is left over. Those carrying the meal should be careful to serve the meal on top a tray and not to stick out the hands. Make sure the rice is filled to about 80 percent and not to have a mountianous serving of the side dishes. Otherwise, be careful to avoid unsightly conduct and carelessness and endevour to avoid the discomfort of the other guests.