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Why do they serve water in Japanese restaurants?

Yurii

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Well, I simplified the title a bit. I'm in Thailand now. And I've found a Japanese restaurant there, which I frequent lately. And the thing is when I come the first thing they do is bring a glass of water with ice, and a thing with even more water (a big plastic glass with a handle?) So I wonder if there's any etiquette involved with this thing. Do I drink it before, during, or after a meal? If serving water right away is a Japanese thing to do, that is.
 

thomas

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It is called ohiya and it's free of charge, usually just tap water. There is no special etiquette involved.
 

nice gaijin

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serving ice water as a service is common in the US as well. Places that are more conscious of their water use will ask first or wait to be asked before bringing out water
 

Lothor

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It's a very good custom that the British should adopt. If you don't specifically ask for tap water at a restaurant in Britain, you'll get bottled water at a stupid price.
 

madphysicist

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It's a very good custom that the British should adopt. If you don't specifically ask for tap water at a restaurant in Britain, you'll get bottled water at a stupid price.
?? That has literally never happened to me and I always ask for water. If they tried that on me I'd send it back and refuse to pay.

In some countries they won't give you tap water even if you ask for it. Very glad Japan isn't one of those.
 

Lothor

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?? That has literally never happened to me and I always ask for water. If they tried that on me I'd send it back and refuse to pay.

In some countries they won't give you tap water even if you ask for it. Very glad Japan isn't one of those.
Happened to me in the aptly named Wagamama restaurant in Manchester when I was visiting my folks and Mrs Lothor had a hankering for some ramen!
 

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