I am at a crowded food court, food stalls all have a 20 minutes queue, and not a single seat is available. Eating outside of the food court is not an easy option either.

But then there is this 4 people table with nothing but a small bag put at the middle of it.

I can only suppose that a person or group of persons has put it to "reserve" the table before going to the food stalls. I don't know how long ago they put it.

I am just one person, so I could eat on the corner of the table without touching the bag, and possibly be finished before they even come back. I could also simply wait for a seat to become free, which should take no more than 10 minutes.

  • Question 1: In this situation, is such "reservation" an acceptable behavior?
  • Question 2: What would you do in my case?

(For other countries please see "Reserved" seats at crowded foodcourt?)

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    @CodeLღver Unfortunately for the Global Society, it is not the same everywhere, and the context of where is a very important part of questions on this site. – User27 Aug 7 '17 at 6:29
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    @SQB: It actually happened to me, yes, last year in Tokyo. – nic Aug 7 '17 at 6:46
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    I'm voting to leave this Q opened, as it might be very specific (Japan) and @WitanapDanu nailed some very interesting points in his comments. I guess we need help from Japanese people or ones with a strong knowledge of the culture. – OldPadawan Aug 7 '17 at 7:24
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    @OldPadawan: I went the "opposite" way and VTC because the best solution would be to edit the earlier question, IMHO. – Tom Au Aug 7 '17 at 15:32
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    @TomAu What do you mean? Once a question has generated answers based on some assumption (US based), making a major edit like changing the country invalidates the answers. This is generally discouraged. It should be preferred for users to ask a new question in that case, particularly after several weeks have passed. – Catija Aug 7 '17 at 15:35

On this Kyoto University thread, someone describes what they do in such cases:


My translation:

On a table where 4 seats were "reserved", I placed 4 triangle signs saying "Seat reservation forbidden".

Such signs can apparently be found in some places:

Seat reservation forbidden 席取り禁止

More humorous suggestions on this thread tell the asker to steal the bag (noting that unfortunately it probably won't contain any wallet), or throwing it through the window.


Reserving seats in a place with high and fast throughput is rude because it works against the concept of the restaurant. So keep in mind that the seat reservers are being rude, not you.

An easy way out is treating the bag, since it's a single one, as lost luggage.

  1. Sit down and eat your meal.
  2. Take the lost luggage to the counter to report it.

Should you be interrupted between 1 and 2 by the owner of the bag, hand them their luggage after verifying that it's indeed theirs, for instance by checking that the bag indeed contains what they say it does.

This puts the onus on them to admit that they sought to reserve the seats, to which you can answer "how rude" if you want to drive that point home.

If they become rude and insist on you vacating the seats, get the staff involved. The whole concept of a fast-food restaurant is fast throughput, which "reserving" seats works against since it prevents other customers from eating.

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    reading @Witan-ap-Danu 's comment (abandoned bag) and @ nic 's own answer (reservation forbidden), I would just recommand that one does not touch the bag, just report it though. Grabbing the bag might lead to arguing or more, not worth it. But agreed on the other points you mention. – OldPadawan Aug 7 '17 at 11:04
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    How is this answer relevant to someone living in Japan? – user288 Aug 7 '17 at 19:23
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    @Hamlet feigning ignorance and treating the bag as lost luggage instead of a reservation will work in Japan as well. I'm not aware of a cultural taboo against lost luggage. – SQB Aug 7 '17 at 19:33

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