Guide through awkward situations in Japan

When you come to Japan as a tourist or for business, you might not know all the social rules perfectly.
So awkward situations can happen.
But if you follow this guide, it will hopefully not happen:
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1) "Bowing"
 
If you stay in a japanese hotel or enter a japanese company/store/restaurant, you will realize that japanese people bow a lot.
Especially in formal situations.
But do you have to bow too or not?
Lets see following situations:
 
You pay at the hotel reception after checking out and walk out of the hotel.
The staff bows to you many times, even after you went outside.
Don't bow back in this situation.
It is just their way of saying "thank you very much".
 
You buy a drink at a convinience store.
The cashier bows to you after you paid.
Also don't bow back here.
It is again just part of their job to thank the costumes for buying the product.
 
But you can actually bow in a business environment when getting introduced to business partners or when exchanging business cards.
I think you get the concept.
 
2) "Irasshaimase"
 
When entering a shop or restaurant, the staff will usually say "irasshaimase".
Please do not say that back.
It doesn't mean "Good day" or "Hello" like in other places of the world, but it means "Welcome to our store/restaurant".
So saying it back would be a little confusing.
 
3) Topics that are tabu
 
It is better not to talk about following things in the wrong way:
"Why does Japan need an emperor? He doesn't really do anything".
Japanese people are really sensitive about the Tenno so just don't make any jokes or talk bad about him.
 
"Pearl Harbour was completely the fault of Japanese soldiers".
Many people in Japan have their own version of Pearl Harbour and WW2, so you should not sympathize with America in this topic.
 
"Anime and Manga is for kids".
This sentence would make a lot of japanese adults (especially guys) annoyed.
Just by looking at the people in the train, you can see some business guys reading manga or looking at Anime girls.
It is nothing special in Japan so don't assume it is strange.
 
Of course all those topics don't offend everyone and you shouldn't take it too serious.
It just means that some people would probably not meet you again after saying those things.
 
Part 2 of this guide comes out soon.
Until then, see you!



Rob W