In a country with a unique culture like Japan, visitors can feel bothered by the rules and social norms that regulate public life and interpersonal relations. Foreigners visiting Japan aren’t expected to be familiar with Japanese etiquette, but knowing some basics can go a long way in helping you adapt to native customs and avoid creating cultural gaffes. If you are coming up with a visit to Japan, here are a few cultural blunder you should be aware of.
1. Don’t break the rules of chopstick etiquette.
The Japanese are going to be affected if you are comfortable using chopsticks. but making the following faux pas will definitely raise eyebrows. ne’er stick your chopsticks vertically in your bowl of rice — this resembles a funeral ritual. If you need to place them down, always use the chopstick holder next to your plate. Avoid using your chopsticks to pass food to someone else’s chopsticks, as this is another taboo. once sharing dishes, use your chopsticks to take the food and place it on your own plate before eating it. and don’t rub your chopsticks along – it’s rude.
2. Don’t wear shoes indoors.
If you’re visiting a Japanese home, your shoes should be immediately removed once you’re through the door. “Outdoor” shoes are considered unclean, and for this reason they’re replaced with “indoor” slippers at the access. This no-shoe rule also extends to ancient ryoken hotels, some public areas like temples and shrines, and schools and hospitals. If you see shoes lined up at a doorway or entrance then you’ll make sure that they must be removed, and usually slippers will be available for you to slip on.
Shoes are also a no-no in the areas of restaurants where diners sit on the floor on traditional tatami mats. in this case, slippers are not worn at all — they could damage the straw matting — so ensure your socks match and are free of holes!
Another important rule is to exchange your “indoor” slippers for the special “toilet” slippers once using the toilet. These are kept at the doorway of the toilet area (which is often separate from the bathroom) specially for this purpose. and don’t forget to once again do the switch when leaving the rest room area!
3. Don’t ignore the queuing system.
The Japanese love to line up in orderly single file whether they are waiting at a bus stop, on a train platform, or even for the elevator! On platforms at train stations, there are lines on the ground indicating where to stand and wait for your train. once the train arrives, the doors can open exactly in-between the two parallel lines that are formed by waiting commuters. needless to say, do wait until passengers have left the train before boarding single file.
4. Avoid eating on the go.
In Japan, folks do not usually eat or drink on the go. fast food sold at street stands and stalls is eaten standing up, while drinks bought from the many vending machines available in public places are also consumed immediately and the will or bottle tossed in the recycling bin next to the machine. Similarly, eating or drinking on public transport is considered bad manners, but an exception is made for this on long-distance trains.
5. Don’t get into a bathtub before showering first.
Most Japanese homes have a bathtub that’s often already full of heated water. These are reserved for having a relaxing soak and not for washing the body. This traditional Japanese bathtub called “furo” is often square in shape, and it’s smaller yet deeper than a standard Western tub for this reason. Before slipping into the tub, a thorough scrub is needed using a shower or faucet typically located nearby.
If visiting a public bath or “onsen”, the same “shower first” rule is obligatory before entering the communal bath. other rules apply to the onsen: Bathing suits are not allowed, hair should be tied up to keep it out of the bath water, never let your towel touch the water, and don’t swim in the onsen. Also, tattoos are frowned upon in Japan because they’re associated with gangs: If you have a tattoo, you may not be allowed to use a public bath.
6. Don’t blow your nose in public.
Blowing your nose publically in Japan is considered to be vulgar. find a toilet or another personal place if you have to attend to a running nose. it is common to determine folks sporting face masks publically, especially in the winter. this means they need a chilly and want to avoid spreading germs and infecting others.
7. Don’t leave a tip.
Unlike within the U.S. wherever tipping is obligatory, Japan doesn’t have a tipping culture, and departure a tip might even be taken as an insult. Service is enclosed within the bill at restaurants, and even taxi drivers can refuse to possess a fare rounded off. Leave some coins on the table and also the waiter can sure run when you to come your forgotten change!
8. Avoid loud phone conversations while on public transit.
The Japanese tend to use their mobile phones discreetly and can keep telephone discussions transient and as quiet as possible when publicly. when traveling on public transit, many of us are busy using their phones to text, hear music, watch videos, or read, but telephone calls are terribly rare. If you’ve got to use your phone in a very public space, move to a quiet place with few people around.
9. Don’t point.
Pointing at people or things is considered rude in Japan. instead of using a finger to point at something, the Japanese use a hand to gently wave at what they would like to indicate. once relating themselves, people can use their forefinger to touch their nose instead of inform at themselves. it is also considered bad manners to use your chopsticks to point at something.
10. Don’t pour soy sauce on your rice.
In Japan, soy sauce isn’t poured directly on rice. always pour soy sauce into the small dish provided specially for this and not directly on your rice or other food. Then use your chopsticks to dip the sushi or sashimi in the sauce.
11. Avoiding giving and receiving things with one hand.
In Japan, each hands are always used once giving and receiving things, including small objects like business cards. once paying at a shop or cafe, it’s common to place the money on the small tray next to the till instead of handing it on to the cashier.
12. Don’t serve yourself a drink.
When socialising with friends or colleagues, refill every person’s glass once they are empty however not your own, that is considered rude. when you’ve finished serving your companions they will do the same for you. A bottle is always held with both hands when pouring.