One of the taboos drummed into every visitor to Japan is that you mustn’t blow your nose in public. The Japanese find it disgusting. They overcome the problem by sniffing, which is merely irritating. It comes as a surprise to Westerners who are attuned to the heightened sensibilities of the Japanese to discover that they find nothing wrong about slurping their food, in fact they positively relish it, the noisier the better. There’s a technique to it, which I’ve never mastered, but the place to practice is in a noodle restaurant. Noodles are served in broth, in porcelain bowls. They can either be udon, which are made from wheat flour, or soba, which are made from buckwheat and are white and thick. The broth is served hot and the idea is that the slurping cools it down. The photo shows a dish of noodles with tempura as a side dish, served in Maganedo, an up-market restaurant in Okayama. The cost per person, including a bottle of sake was £20, and with that we received a gift of an elegant little Japanese pottery cup.