For someone who want to travel Japan, there are some points to consider to avoid offending local sensibilities. Part of the lessons in traveling is learning other countries’ culture and being sensitive to their ways. As a traveler, you won’t master Japanese manners quickly. However, every effort you make will greatly increase your chances of impressing the locals. It’s all part of the process of discovering and participating in Japanese culture. Here are 10 things you should avoid doing in Japan:
Don’t wear shoes inside a house
This is one of the easiest things to remember while in Japan. It’s a reasonable and hygienic request at the same time. Japanese just want to keep their floors and mats clean and they don’t want the dust and dirt acquired outside. You may also run into this at certain temples, shrines and other establishments. If you see other people taking off their shoes, do the same.
Never forget the toilet slippers
Japanese have a dedicated set of slippers for toilet usage. Therefore, simply switch out of your house slippers and into the toilet slippers. After you do your thing, switch it back and walk away, just like that.
Follow Escalator Etiquette
Some countries like Japan follow a set of rules when it comes to escalators. It is important to follow what other people are doing. In Tokyo, you stand on the left. In Osaka, you stand on the right.
Never tip anyone
Just like Europe, tipping is not a part of the Japanese culture. If you keep insisting it can sometimes lead to an embarrassing situation. Therefore, don’t even leave the small change because people will come running to you after it to give it back.
Don’t talk on your phone in trains
Japanese considers it to be rude as it disturbs people around you especially if you’re in the train. For that reason, talk in a low discreet tone while talking to someone or put it in a silent mode. It’s not that difficult.
Never drink or eat while walking around
Japanese used to take the time to stop and consume while stationary. It is because of their cultural respect for food, unlike western countries where you can eat and drink on the go. It’s very common to see people in Japan stand or crouch when eating Japanese street food.
Stop spreading the germs
Japanese are very serious when it comes to being sick in public. Therefore, it’s quite common to see some people wearing surgical masks upon the masses. Aside from wearing surgical masks, one of the things you should avoid is blowing your nose in public. The locals retreat to the washroom to blow their nose. Sniffling is generally okay.
Don’t touch in public
Unlike western countries, Japan is more attentive when it comes to public displays of attention. In the land of the rising sun, you will never see people holding hands, walking together or kissing on the streets. It’s recommended to stick with a formal hands-off bow as a greeting.
Never point in asking directions
Pointing is avoided in Japan as they find it threatening. Therefore, they give directions with an open hand. Verbal directions without gestures are also common.
Don’t play with chopsticks
Chopsticks are an important part of Japan’s culture. Chopsticks should be used only by eating. That is to say that people avoid using them for anything other than eating. Using them as a toy can be considered disrespectful.