Sitting Pretty as Long as Possible
The head of the household — either the grandfather, the father, or the eldest son — will most likely act as your entertainer, and will be seated at the head of the table. Chairs are not a common feature in Japanese homes. Instead, you will be offered a
Start out on your knees with your bottom resting on your heels, if at all possible. This is a formal sitting position that is appropriate for the beginning of the meal. Try to stay in this position at least through the
Sitting cross-legged is fine for men, but is still considered rather crude for women, so many of them eventually slump to the side, sitting on their hip, with their legs folded underneath. Changing sides often helps to keep the pins and needles away. Be careful when you stand up after sitting for a while, however, as your legs may give out.
Your hosts will likely notice your effort to be polite and insist that you relax and make yourself at home:
Go ahead and stretch your legs out under the table!
You do not have to be so polite.
You are familiar with the phrase
The verb in the second example,
After insisting that you are fine a few times, it is okay to discreetly stretch out your legs under the table. Most Westerners are unaccustomed to sitting on the floor for long periods at a time and it may take some getting used to. Offering to assist with bringing food or drinks or clearing empty dishes will get you up and moving around. Visiting the restroom will also give you an opportunity to stretch your legs.