Japanese manners that travellers need to know

Japan is on the fire destination of the moment. Everyone dreams about visit this country and with the upcoming Rugby World Cup in the fall and next year’s Olympics, the number of visitors is expected to grow even more. But is extremely important preserving and adapt to rules of behavior that may be unusual us Western tourists.

Traveling we know, we have to adapt and must respect the custom, but in Japan sometimes these rules are not clearly express, are more “manner-you-need-to-know-and-respect”.

For this reason is highly important, when you are about to visit Japan for the first time, learn how to behave in Japan to avoidbothering others and seems rude. To avoid making such a bad impression, of appearing improper, you’ll better to learn what to do and don’t in Japan and to respect the rules of Japanese behavior.

Japanese good behaviour manners

In Japan rules are very important and must be respected. To make sure to leave prepared for a first trip to Japan, try to take advantage of this article, so as to maintain an adequate behavior and contribute to preserving the uniqueness of Japan under this point of view.

1. Do not talk on the telephone on the trains (but also do not speak loudly).

Japanese trains are the places frequented by humans most silent on the planet (if we obviously don’t calculate station announcements). It is a place and an almost sacred moment, that most people use to “relax”, allowing themselves a moment of relaxation in the frenzy of Japanese life.
Sleep, read, a book, browse social media, play a video game, but also listen to music or watch a video. Of course using headphones at a volume that doesn’t disturb the other.
When you are with someone, more than talking, you had to whisper and I even saw people getting off the train at the first available stop if their baby started crying! The phone is kept strictly in silent mode and when occasionally it happens to forget about it, they mutter excuses and turn off the sound embarrassed.

2. Cigarettes only in smoking areas

Although smoking in many restaurants and izakaya is allowed, smoking is strictly forbidden while walking on the street or in any case outside the designated areas. This prohibition also applies to electronic cigarettes, and failure to observe entails a fine of 2.000yen. For those who cannot resist the call of the cigarette break, however, good news: the smoking areas are quite frequent and easily identifiable, also in some countryside areas, smoking is allowed freely but you must always have your portable ashtray with you.

3. Respect the line.

Japanese spend almost more time in a row than in sleep. Easy to say that line in Japan is not only in situations like waiting at the supermarket or at the counters; it’s for EVERYTHING. Wait to enter in a restaurant, getting on the elevator or for the train. Yes, in every station, in front of the point that indicates where the train doors will open, you have two rows (or three in the larger stations) and wait in columns. Woe to the wise and above all, be ordered … avoid creating traffic jams by placing yourself in packs. In kombini, the convenient stores opened 24h, the point behind which to line up is indicated, from there you are then called by the first cash desk.  The same goes for many shops: there is only one point of entry for the cash box behind which you line up and then go to the cashier that is freed from time to time.

4. Don’t eat while walking

One of the most inappropriate behaviors for us habitual in Japan is eating while walking. Whether it’s a sandwich (or an onigiri), a packet of chips or an ice cream, anyone who eats something while walking is considered extremely rude and disrespectful. And don’t you dare sit on sidewalks, steps or the like for a snack break!!! The only place where it is allowed to eat on the street is in front of the convenience store or near the street food stand, also sitting on the station benches or in the parks is fine. Also drink from cans or containers in non-resealable tetrapacks it is considered rude: you should drink and store the bottle, don’t walk with the drink in your hand with the risk of making it overflow!

5. Bringing your garbage home

And obviously not eating on the street, you don’t even generate garbage that must be thrown into the baskets, which become so superfluous to the point of practically not finding EVER in the street. Usually, near the drink vending machine, there are the corresponding garbage bins where only that kind of waste can be thrown. But then, in case you have to throw something away, how do you do it? Certainly you don’t leave it where it happens, maybe hiding it in a public bathroom like I’ve found it several times! Simply take the garbage home and throw it there. For this reason, I always suggest you to bring plastic bags in your bag (so much in Japan they continually trim them), where to put your own garbage before storing it in your bag.
Bins can still be found in convenient store or in the platform in the major train stations.

6. No love exchange in public.

Surely you will know that in Japan you always greet each other with a bow, while the handshake is not contemplated (although lately on the occasion of presentations with foreigners, some Japanese try a clumsy handshake …). As one can therefore easily guess, the Japanese do not like physical contact in public, like kisses and hugs between friends and relatives. If sometimes you could happen to cross arm-in-hand couples or some young couple holding hands, it will be practically impossible to cross a Japanese couple who exchange even light effusions. Avoid therefore to shock the Japanese with passionate kisses and overlapping bodies on benches …. be respectful and limited effusions to the private environment.

7. Do not obstruct traffic

In Japan you drive on the left and even pedestrian traffic is handled in the same way. Keep this in mind when you are walking in very crowded areas and especially in stations. Usually on the stairs it is however indicated with an arrow the side to go down and the side to go up, identify it and follow it: the Japanese move following a super-precise rhythm (like their trains) and if you hinder them the road you could cause them to slow down. leads them to miss the train and a delay to the appointment. And in Japan few things are as bad as the delay. Wouldn’t you like to have this weight on your conscience, not even attention to escalators: we all line up on the left side (except in Osaka and in some cases in Kyoto, where we align to the right) and leave the free space for those of us hurry and go down the escalators walking. Try not to hinder the traffic even when you walk on the street, leaving enough space to go past those in a hurry and not stopping in the middle of the road to consult the map, but move to the side. , if you don’t find a seat, slip into the corridor and don’t stand in front of the doors; if you really get stuck there because you run into rush hours, at each stop get off and wait near the door letting down the passengers who need it.Ah and of course, let everyone get off before getting on a train !!!

8. No tip! We Italians don’t usually leave tips, but sometimes we leave “the rest”, maybe not to fill us with money or simply as a gesture of gratitude. Here in Japan, NEVER do it. The tip, in addition to not being used, is badly seen if not even considered an insult! In addition to this, the Japanese are very precise and fussy and if you tell the cashier to keep the rest, even if it were only 1yen, you would go and upset the amount recorded by the cashier and there is nothing worse than an anomaly to panic the Japanese, so avoid creating confusion and keep your money (or make a donation to me, I am not Japanese and I do not take offense !! ). Recently, in some places, the staff’s canteen jar started to appear, but it is only a palliative for the many American tourists too accustomed to giving tips that they cannot keep … this amount is generally used in the nomikai, or when all the colleagues go out to drink together after work, is therefore not directly delivered to the staff.
9. Hands off the taxi One of the things that fascinates those who visit Japan, are the automatic taxi doors. Yes, in Japan the taxi doors open and close by themselves so, despite the uncontrollable instinct, try never to touch them, you could damage the mechanism. If you have luggage instead, do not open the trunk of the taxi nor load your luggage from you, unless the driver tells you otherwise.10. Via the shoesIn Japan at home you enter without shoes. In the genkan, the entrance is removed, usually slightly lower than the house level. In this way, dirt and grime are not brought into the house. This custom is not only applied in private homes but also in many restaurants, izakaya, temples, ancient structures or in general where there are tatami floors, including hotels with Japanese rooms and ryokan. It is usually easy to understand where you cannot enter with shoes: there are shelves to place shoes or baskets with plastic bags if you need to bring your shoes with you. Usually the floor is raised, make sure not to go up on the raised part with the shoes, but to remove them first, then placing the foot on the clean wooden part. Remember to remove the shoes even when you enter your hotel room if it is a traditional room, don’t walk with shoes just because nobody sees you !! Ruin the floor anyway! 11. Food netiquette We would like a separate article to correctly list all good manners at the table and I admit that I am certainly not the most prepared person on this point. But there are some basic tricks that I want to recommend, so as not to look bad in Japan. On all the Japanese rules at the table, the most important is to never stick the chopsticks in the rice, they are so positioned only for the funeral offerings. ! Another thing not to do because linked to funeral rites is to pass the food with chopsticks: never simultaneously have two pairs of chopsticks on the same piece of food and in case of food taken from a common dish, remember to turn the chopsticks and use the part back to take food.12. Objects forgotten or supported somewhere If you lose or forget something in Japan, know that you have very high chances of finding it again. Perhaps by simply retracing the path you have just taken or returning to the place where you have presumably left the object. This is possible because in Japan no one moves or touches objects that are not their own, however cute, useful or abandoned they may be. Moreover in Japan it is also customary to leave a personal object as a placeholder, so it is not always a question of forgotten or lost objects. So if you happen to see “abandoned” objects, do not take them and do not move them, the owner may come back for it soon! these rules then, however, should be remembered the classic rules of common sense and respect that a good traveler should observe anywhere in the world, how not to vandalize, not photograph or make videos where it is not allowed (such as the altars and sacred areas of some temples and sanctuaries oo alle maid in the street in Akihabara), don’t touch the plants (especially the cherry blossoms !!! I’ve seen too many people in places to see cherry trees in Tokyo, touch the sakura branches to get them in front of your face for a photo : they are delicate flowers that last very little, let everyone enjoy them and do not let them fall ahead of time!) and do not feed the ducks or carp of the ponds. n alarm with all these rules? Better this way! Japan is a wonderful place, also for its rules and the order there is, if you want to continue to live this journey in its entirety, it is also the tourist’s job to help preserve it: the best way to visit the Japan is becoming part of it yourself!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *