Japan is a culturally rich country located in East Asia, in the Pacific Ocean. In fact, Japan is an archipelago of no less than 6,852 islands. One of the most impressive things about the country is its extremely interesting and unique culture . If you plan to visit Japan in the near future, learn something about the culture and the customs here. Below you will find 30 important customs in Japan that all visitors should know.
1. Take your shoes off
When you enter in someone’s home in Japan, you should take your shoes off. In most restaurants, hotels and resorts, you will be expected to do the same. Japanese people are extremely clean. They have places to put your shoes and will give you slippers to wear while being inside.
Drinking before cheers is considered to be rude. The Japanese word for cheers is Kampai!.
3. Using chopstick
When you are eating out, avoid putting your chopsticks on the table, but always use the chopstick holder.
4. Never tip
Don’t tip anyone in Japan. Even though this may be a custom in your country, here it is considered to be rude.
5. Avoid pouring your own glass
It is a custom in Japan for companions to pour drinks for each other. Pouring your own glass means that your companions are not attentive enough.
6. Be quiet on the phone
Japanese people have really quiet phone conversations. In crowded places, such as the train or a shop, people never talk on the phone. During a vacation in Japan, you may never hear a phone ringing, as most people keep their phones on vibrations only.
7. Respect for others
In Japan, a simple inclination of the head or a bending of the body with a hand on the waist is considered to be a form of respect.
8. Eating from bowls
In Japan it is considered to be normal to eat directly from the bowls. Don’t be embarrassed to do so.
It is a custom to wear a sterilized mask in case you are ill. Japanese wear them when having a cold, too, in order to prevent infecting others.
On the escalator you will see that everyone stands left and pas right. Standing left will offer people in a hurry the possibility to easily pass by you.
A Japanese onsen is a hot spring bath. Many foreign people visit these venues in Japan for the great experience that can be enjoyed. However, there are some things you should know. For instance, at most baths nudity is required. Showers have to be used to completely clean yourself before entering the bath. In case you have a tattoo, you may not be allowed to enter the onsen.
If you talk to Japanese, you will probably be told to take care during your trip in this country. Still, the crime rate here is one of the lowest in the world. However, the fear of crime is very high in Japan.
13. Don’t turn someone down
Japanese believe that turning someone down causes embarrassment and loss of face to that other person.
14. Clean your hands before eating
In most Japanese restaurants, you will receive a small wet cloth when entering. Use it to clean your hands, then fold it and set it aside, on the table. Never use it to clean your face.
Try to learn a few words in Japanese before your trip to the country. This may turn out being really helpful in case you need directions.
16. Valentine’s Day gift
Another custom in Japan is for women to give men chocolate on Valentine’s Day. The chocolate can be given to any men the woman is connected to.
17. Sitting on the floor
Sitting on the floor is another popular custom in Japan. However, many foreign visitors find it to be painful, preferring the commodity of chairs.
18. Streets have no name
Don’t look for streets names when you are visiting Japan. Commonly, there are no signs telling you a street name, even though you will find directions and indications.
19. Welcome to a restaurant
Don’t worry if the staff of a restaurant shouts welcome as you enter. This is a custom in Japan.
20. Dress code
There is no dress code you will have to respect when visiting temples. Requirements vary from one location to another, but being covered and wearing clothes that are not revealing may be a good idea.
Never use the same slippers at the bathroom and inside the home of the person you are visiting. You should change them.
Smoking is permitted only in designated smoking areas. Smoking while walking is considered an offence in Japan.
The kimono is the ethnic costume in Japan. However, everyday wear here is now western clothing.
When you are invited to a private house, bringing a gift is a must. Regardless of what you purchase, gifts should be wrapped in an attractive manner.
25. Blowing your nose in public
This is another behavior considered to be rude in Japan. If you need to blow your nose, use the washroom.
26. Drinking in public
In Japan, you are allowed to drink in public. This is a allowed in many other countries, too.
27. Avoid talking about your private life
In Japan, people tend to keep conversations neutral. If you meet someone new during your vacation here, avoid telling him or her everything about your private life. Private lives here are kept private.
The place of honor in a car, in Japanese culture, is the seat directly behind the driver.
29. Social events
Leaving a social event too soon, or before the main guests leave, is also impolite.
30. Paying for a meal
In case someone treats you to a meal, you should still attempt to pay. Not offering to pay is considered to be bad form.
Many of these customs are extremely different from the ones in Western countries, so they may seem strange. However, knowing these 30 customs will get you closer to the locals and the inner beauty of Japanese lifestyle.
Help us complete the list with other customs and traditions that visitors should respect while in Japan. Leave your comment below.
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