Awesomely “Oshibori” in Japan! But the etiquettes of using wet towel is also important!
“Oshibori” is a touching and thoughtful service in Japan food industry. An typical “oshibori” is wet towel made of cloth in palm size and is dampened with clean water and wrung. Usually fold in half and roll it, use for clean hands before meal. Many restaurants offer wet towel based on different weather temperture. Cold wet towel are used in summer; and hot wet towel in winter.
According to some descriptions, wet towel service started long time ago of Japan history. It began in Edo period when cotton products started to popularized, the tea houses' staff will put a bucket of water and clean cloth to travelers who stopped by to rest. Customers usually wrung the wet cloth to wipe hands and feet, so the meaning of oshibori is “to wring” in Japanese word. Japanese usually is introverted and not easy to express their feeling, therefore they show their welcome and warmth to customers by using wet towel.
Wet towel is a way to express Japanese's honesty and loyalty to their customers, but how to use it is also an other lesson to learn.
When you enter a restaurant in summer, if you can wipe hand with clean white wet towel is definitely make you enjoy the steamy sensation that seems to clean and renew. But you might see others use the wet towel to rub off their sweat and dirt on face or neck. Wet towel is actually made for wipe hand only, this will be inappropriate to wipe on face. Especially for Japanese women, they might have bad impression if a man does it. Furthermore, its also inappropriate if you wipe off the dirt from the dining table. If the table get mess up accidentally, ask a waiter or a waitress to clean the table instead. The wet towel is for wipe hand only in Japan, afterwards you should fold the towel back for next use. There are also many Japanese cannot correctly use the wet towel appropriatly, therefore people will be very surprised if you can do it as a foreign tourist.
You will able to receive wet towel service in bar, sushi restautant and soba shop, etc. If you are having a meal in higher standard restaurants, you might receive the service both before and after the meal. The wet towel in best temperture and deliver to customers will make consumers feel warm and satisfied. Please go and experience to enjoy the special wet towel service in Japan.