lifestyle

Basic etiquette tips for Japan: The social rules of conduct

14 Comments
By ASUKA NAITO

When traveling or moving to a completely new country, it is expected that you might commit a social faux pas or two. But with some experience and being reminded that "this simply isn’t done here” by the locals, you eventually learn what the acceptable behavior is.

In Japan, as with anywhere else, there are social rules of conduct that would benefit you to follow. The only thing is, the Japanese tend to be a little shy when confronting people about their behavior. In other words, you may never know that you are offending people, as it is possible that no one will tell you. So, here are the top five etiquette mistakes to avoid when in Japan.

Eating or drinking on trains

Generally speaking, people don’t eat while walking on the street or in crowded commuter trains. It’s not necessarily rude, but it does look a little shabby and might annoy other people.

However, on the shinkansen (bullet trains) and on planes where food is served, it’s fine to consume your own food and drinks.

Speaking in a loud voice on trains

Another thing that annoys people is speaking in a loud voice on trains and other public transportation. Using your phone on a train is a definite no-no. It’s common for people to get off at the next stop to take a call rather than face the collective ire of their fellow commuters.

Japanese people tend to be less vocal and expressive when in public compared with some of their western counterparts, so please keep it down. Yes, I’m talking to you, you loud foreigner.

Public displays of affection

Although this is changing with the younger generation, the Japanese tend to be a little conservative when it comes to physical contact or displaying affection in public.

Click here to read more.

© Savvy Tokyo

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

14 Comments
Login to comment

During my stay in japan I saw people breaking these rules on a daily basis. Especially in Osaka.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Osaka, Nagoya. If there is a rule, those two cities will break it somehow. Not sure why is that, though.

Japanese people tend to be less vocal and expressive when in public compared with some of their western counterparts.....

That is true. On the other hand, outdoor sound polution is higher here than anywhere else. For many tourists, it's like being in a circus or an amusement park. Various sounds, commercial jingles, pachinko and other noises come from everywhere. The best, however, are the polling cars, where they start driving around the neighborhood at 6:00 a.m. and screaming into a microphone with a loudspeaker as loud as a turkish football stadium.

8 ( +14 / -6 )

« loud foreign »

Oh man, you forgot to ride trains lately ?

Japanese people of all ages -yes, youngsters are the majority - are also speaking in a loud voice, specially after 10:00pm !

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Sorry @zichi 9:26am, you’re respected years of both ‘personaland ’practical’ experiences here in Japan…

“I was informed… many people don't know these rules. After 30 years of living here that surprises me.” -

… apparently cannot compare to the more “sabi” and “trending” points of view at “Click here to read more.”

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Never leave your chopsticks standing up in a bowl of rice. It looks like incense for a burial.

And, make as much noise as you can when slurping down your ramen. The more noise you make the more you seem to be enjoying it.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Once again, this is most likelystaleinformation for prospective Olympic visitors,

“However, on the shinkansen (bullet trains) where food is served, it’s fine to consume your own food and drinks.” -

… perhaps written prior to COVID restrictions?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

As we can see from this ‘*easily researched’ **JapanRail Press Release** reflecting an indefinite ‘enforcement date’, most food service on trains have been suspended:***

*- “January 13th, 2021 East Japan Railway Co., Ltd. - Information on suspension of services inside Shinkansen and other limited express trains on conventional lines - “We will suspend sales services inside Shinkansen cars and other limited express trains on conventional lines in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Details on the suspension are as follows. We will notify customers when we resume the service. 1.Suspension period: From January 16, 2021 (Sat) until the time being 2.Suspended services: Gran Class service, Beverage and snack services provided by attendants at Gran Class will be suspended on the following trains….” *

https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pdf/20210113_press_pass_e.pdf. -
0 ( +1 / -1 )

Don't forget to completely blank the person serving you in a shop or restaurant.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Did anyone tell the Japanese about these "rules"?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

No holding hands , hugging or expressing love. But pornography on every newsstand is OK. What about the public displays of affection on trains that millions of women have to endure from creeps ?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

And, make as much noise as you can when slurping down your ramen. The more noise you make the more you seem to be enjoying it.

Do you really think that the ramen shop staff are measuring the volume of your slurps? I have heard this a few times, but never from anyone Japanese. Slurping is perfectly acceptable in Japan, but to my knowledge a requirement to show appreciation. There are other ways to do that.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Generally speaking, people don’t eat while walking on the street or in crowded commuter trains.

Christ, whenever I hear the word 'general' in connection with Japan, I just stop reading.

I've had school girls eating ramen next to me on the commuter train, and I've seen people eat everything from ice cream to cup noodles when walking. And these are Japanese. Meanwhile, a Japanese friend years ago was shocked that I was going to eat an apple without peeling or cutting it. For god's sake.

As for loud voices, I hate it when a bunch of high school girls or oyaji salarymen come on the train. That's a recipe for ear-splitting noise. The salarymen act like 10 year old boys, especially when half cut. And the girls' voices can shatter glass.

Please, enough of these stupid, lazy, ethnocentric stereotypes in reverse. What next, you're going to tell me people don't blow their noses in public?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The country is crowded. You need to learn to sit facing a complete stranger eyeball to eyeball on the train with a 1000 yard stare unless it is a cute young lady.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

The biggest rule to remember is that none of these "rules" are followed by most locals at some point, if not in general.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites