What is Mokushoku? (黙食)

Mokushoku (黙食/もくしょく) is eating in silence, or “Shut Up and Eat”.

Mokushoku in action

This news clip yesterday mentioned the phrase. Apparently a restaurant owner in Fukuoka came up with it, and use the phrase in a poster asking customers to refrain from talking when eating. The poster was shared on Twitter and gone viral. Now restaurants in Tokyo are following suit. The owner of the burger joint in the clip said the poster could help them explaining the rule to customers. Even gyms are doing their version, called Mokutore (黙トレ/もくトレ, i.e. exercise in silence).

It is interesting that individuals are now taking matters in their own hands and set rules up. When peer pressure is not enough, such ad-hoc rules might work better. In fact, one of the patrons to the burger joint said:

“I think it’s easier if you (the owner) tell me what you want me to do. Because I can understand that it’s what the restaurant is telling me, not what people around me think.”

I would say Japanese might find Mokushoku more favorable even after the pandemic. If you have visited an izakaya (居酒屋/いざかや) before, you would know what I mean. Especially those izakayas with no individual rooms, which are often noisy. But then, some part of the charm of eating with plenty of people would be lost.