Do's and Don'ts in Japan


In Japan there many social rules that matter a lot.
If you don't follow them, you might upset some japanese people.
 
To prevent any awkward situations, here are some Do's and Don'ts in Japan:
 
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What you should do in Japan:

When you are in public, make sure that you always keep your voice low when talking on phone or with a friend.
Generally japanese people prefer not to hear the topics of other peoples talks.
 
Keep your phone in silent mode when you are on the bus or train.
 
You can sleep in the train. Many japanese people do that.
 
Being polite is the key to success in Japan.
Some important phrases are: arigatou gozaimasu (thank you very much) and sumimasen (excuse me).
It is better to say those words too often than too less!
 
Use Japanese to talk with the locals, even if your skills are very basic.
Japanese people are always happy to hear foreign people speaking their language.
They will even tell you how talented you are although you only said konnichiwa.
 
Slurp your ramen, udon or soba.
Slurping noodle soups in Japan is a common thing. If you can do slurping (which is very hard for me),
japanese people will definately be impressed.
 
Greet old people in your living area.
Old people are usually very friendly and they will always smile when you greet them.
 
Use Chopsticks the right way.
There are many tutorials all around the internet on how to use chopsticks the correct way.
After a little bit of exercise you can look like a chopstick master when eating in Japan ;)
 
What you should not do:
 
Generally when you see written rules or signs, don't ignore them.
Japanese people are pretty strict with their rules and if you follow them you will never make anyone upset.
 
Don't make jokes about the emperor.
Probably noone in Japan would laugh about it.
 
Don't talk on your phone loudly in public areas.
It might disturb many people around you.
Except if it is an emergency call of course.
 
If you are a man, don't enter the "women only"-trains.
Some train lines in Japan have "women only cars" which are only for women in the morning rush hours.
You can easily see which cars are "women only" by the sign on the ground at every station. The time span in which
this rule applies is also on the sign.
 
Don't play around with chopsticks.
There are many rules on how to use chopsticks in Japan.
I will make an article about that soon, so stay tuned to not miss it!
 
When you visit a temple, make sure to read all the signs.
You will often find signs which tell you to take of your shoes before entering a temple.
Because you should not step on the tatami floor (traditional japanese wooden floor) with shoes.
Also at temple gates, there is often a wooden pole on the ground which is kind of an obstacle.
Don't step on it. It is better to step over it (like all the japanese people do).
 
Do not rush into the bus or train without waiting in the line.
It is a rule in Japan to make a line at the bus- and trainstation to keep everything in order.
By destroying this order you will be considered a rude "gaijin".
 
Also in buses and trains, don't eat anything.
Drinking is no problem.
 
So all in all, just be careful in Japan to follow as many social rules as you can.
Of course noone expects you to know every rule in Japan.
But a trip advisor book or just the internet can teach you a lot how to behave, before you visit Japan.
Just for explanation: The cover photo of this article is a sign in Gion (Kyoto)
which shows how to behave when meeting Geishas in the Geisha district.
 
Check out my other articles for more tips about Japan and some travel blogs.
See you in the next one!





Rob W