Friday, February 8, 2008

Sitting Techniques

Sitting techniques and rules
basic information

Sitting techniques

Many Western people are not used to sit on the floor anymore. In Japan, however, sitting upright on the floor is common in various situations. For example, meals are traditionally held sitting on the tatami floor around a low table. Also during the tea ceremony and other traditional events, one sits on the floor.

The formal way of sitting for both genders is kneeling (seiza) as shown on the picture below. People who are not used to sit in seiza style, may feel uncomfortable after a few minutes, and their legs may get numb. However, foreigners are not usually expected to be able to sit in seiza style for a long time, and an increasing number of Japanese people themselves aren't able to do so due to a westernized lifestyle.

In casual situations, men usually sit cross-legged, while women sit on their knees laying both legs to one side. The former sitting style is considered exclusively male, while the latter is considered exclusively female.

women only


men only

Seating order

The most important guest sits on the honored seat (kamiza) which is located farthest from the entrance. If there is a tokonoma in the room, the guest should be seated in front of it. The host or least important person is supposed to sit next to the entrance (shimoza). Of course, there are more factors to be considered in every specific case.

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