Japan is a fascinating country that most of us dream of visiting one day. There are endless scenic spots to discover, and the cuisine is fantastic and varied, especially if you go to different parts of the country. The country’s appeal is more than that. Once you have experienced the unique Japanese traditions and culture, you will understand why.
There are many peculiarities in Japan’s culture and Japanese customs. You must visit Japan to see, experience, and understand why the country is so fascinating. These are some helpful etiquette tips to help you plan your trip to Japan or if you have any plans to visit the country in the future.
- 1 Take off your shoes
- 2 Bow when you wish to greet
- 3 Tipping is not required
- 4 Omiyage: Give the gift of food
- 5 It’s okay to slurp your noodles
- 6 Do not Slam the Taxi Doors
- 7 Learn the importance of business cards
- 8 It is essential to wear a Kimono properly
- 9 Learn How to Use Chopsticks
- 10 Be Mindful Of Onsen Rules
Take off your shoes
It is considered a good practice in Japanese culture to take off your shoes when/before you enter a house or restaurant.
Many people sit on the floors or the tatami mats, so using shoes indoors ruins such floors. Using specific slippers in different rooms is also customary instead of walking around solely in socks or barefoot.
Bow when you wish to greet
There are many customs surrounding bowing. The Japanese typically don’t expect foreigners to be fluent in these things. As a rule of thumb, you should bow to someone greeting you out of respect. This can be as simple as a nod to the head or as elaborate as bowing at the waist.
You should bow longer and more deeply to show respect, but don’t be afraid to do it occasionally. Pro tip: In Japan, bowing with your hands together in front is not the norm.
Tipping is not required
Tipping can be challenging to learn in a foreign country because everyone is unique and has their customs. It’s simple in Japanese culture. You don’t need to memorize specific percentages or do quick math because tipping isn’t customary. It’s not in traditional restaurants, hotels, or taxis. Tips are not expected, although you can leave some coins behind.
Omiyage: Give the gift of food
“Omiyage” is a way to take home a souvenir from your travels, whether short or long, domestic or international. You’ll find entire shops at airports and train stations stocked with various food products.
Although we all know the concept of souvenirs, it is essential to understand that Japan views them more as a gift you give and receive than something you buy if you like it. Another thing about omiyage gift bags is their edible souvenirs. However, the kind of snacks you get will vary depending on where you’ve visited Japan. Food items such as mochi and matcha-flavored snacks are more traditional.
It’s okay to slurp your noodles
Although noise is frowned upon in Japan, eating your noodles while eating is almost preferred. This Japanese tradition was initially created to enhance the taste of soba, traditional Japanese noodles. The other reason is that you can eat your noodles as soon as they are served. This will ensure your tongue doesn’t burn. Also, your dish won’t cool down until you eat it. Burping and loudly crunching remain prohibited.
Do not Slam the Taxi Doors
This custom is one of the most common in Japan. It will make sense once you realize that Japanese taxis have back doors that open automatically. A taxi driver’s rule is that you shouldn’t need to touch the handles.
This will take getting some used to. However, you don’t want the door to open when you get out of your car and then accidentally close it. I made a mistake once, and it scared Shinjuku’s driver.
Learn the importance of business cards
In Japan, it is called meishi. It also means ‘business card.’ To do business with Japanese people, you need to know this information. It is the privilege or responsibility of those in higher positions to exchange business cards. This happens per everyone’s rank.
It is essential to wear a Kimono properly
Japan loves Kimonos, and rightfully so. Therefore, it is essential to learn how to wear a kimono if you intend to wear it properly. But that is a more complicated task than you might think.
There are respective Kimonos depending on the occasion and the level of formality. There are specific ways that kimonos should be worn. An essential tip for men and women: Kimonos should be folded left over right. This is the opposite of what women wear in the US. You can quickly tell if the wrong side is on top with some kimonos because it will disrupt the pattern.
Learn How to Use Chopsticks
You might have figured this out yourself, but in most Asian countries, you will be served food with chopsticks. Most places might have a fork-spoon arrangement on the table, but everyone uses chopsticks. Thus chopsticks are essential to Japanese cuisine. Especially when eating ramen, noodles and sushi. Finding someone who can hold chopsticks correctly in Japan is challenging.
Be Mindful Of Onsen Rules
Hot Springs or Onsen in Japan do not allow you to go into the water wearing a piece of clothing. Thus it would be best if you were naked before you take a dip which sounds utterly bizarre to any person who hasn’t been to an Onsen before. Onsen, even the public ones, have no clothing policy, so every who wants to enjoy the experience needs to be naked, and you might be surprised, a lot of people don’t hesitate going there, and it’s a lucrative feature for a hotel if they own an Onsen.
There is usually a showering area, so you must wash your body first. You can use these showers to clean yourself before entering the tub. It would help if you stopped drinking in public places, and It’s rude to stare at people around you.