Japan is famous for its modest conduct and hospitality for their guests. It is a widely known fact that it is one of the countries with a rich and intriguing history. And, the country holds its reputation for their manners and behaviour towards others.
The foremost thing that I learn there is that time spend in Japan can pass like a blur. Looking back, I have gathered some valuable insight on how best to behave like a local, and not trespassing their centuries old tradition and culture with our own cultures and habits.
Tips to get around Japan
Do’s in Japan:
- Practice or learn some basic phrases
The first rule of traveling to foreign is about learning phrases for better communication. If you want to get through the town, you must know their language, it makes easy to understand.
- Hello – Konnichiwa
- Thank you – Arigatō gozaimasu
- Yes and no – Hai/Iie
- Do you speak English? – Eigo o hanasemasu ka.
- My name is (your name). – Watashi no namae was (your name) desu.
- I don’t understand. – Wakarimasen.
- Please give me – Kohi Kudsai (this phrase can be helpful in placing orders at cafes or restaurants)
- Know about the Basic Etiquettes
Bowing is well-known customs of Japan that you might be aware but it is not for every occasion, some of the Japanese prefer a handshake. Keenly observe their body language and gestures, and you will know what they are expecting. Moving on, while you enter into someone’s home or a few restaurants, you will have to remove your shoes and wear the slippers provided. In addition, don’t hand over money directly to the cashier, instead, place it on the tray provided.
- The custom of visiting an Onsen
Onsen is not just a spot for relaxing, but more than a tradition for many visitors. So, if you are planning to spend some time relaxing there, you should know about maintaining basic customs.
First of all, cleanse yourself before entering the bath. Second, forget the swimsuit and strip down. Third, you will be provided with two towels: use one and save another for after-bath cleansing.
- Dining Manners
Japan is a culturally rich and diverse country. You can find many restaurants with the western lifestyle but at the same time, some provide zashiki-style. In this cultural practice, you sit on the pillows on the floor provided with low tables. So, if you choose the zashiki-style, you will have to remove your shoes before entering the dining area.
Don’ts in Japan:
- Do not litter
The Japanese are really concerned about manners and care for the environment – rubbish is taken to the recycle bins. Plus, people don’t throw trash on the floors or on the grounds. So, be mindful not to litter and carry your rubbish with you until you find a bin.
- Avoid drinking competitions
Before you get into any competition of drinking with Japanese men, know that they can drink mightily and still go to work the next day with a fresh mood. On the other hand, you might feel like having multiple deaths at the same time. So, only go for it if you know that you can bear the beer without getting sick.
- Don’t finish your meal
There is a hospitality rule of the Japanese, they make you eat until you are full. Therefore, finishing your whole meal may make them think that it wasn’t enough for your appetite. So, always leave a few drops in drinks some food on your plate and avoid over-eating due to the custom. (I know, it’s hard! I LOVE Japanese food!)
- Don’t tip
Regardless of the service, you don’t tip to the servers in Japan. You can say that they love to earn the hard way rather than relying on this culture.
- Avoid drinking or eating while walking
Do not drink or eat while walking. They may not be saying anything considering you are non-Japanese, but manners are like the cultural protocols and you must follow them.
In the end, it is all fun and exhilarating experience to be in Japan. Just be aware of some don’s and don’ts to get smoothly out of the trip. Shiawasena tabi!! (Happy traveling!!)