lifestyle

Culture clash: 10 insider tips for visiting Japan

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By Amy Chavez, RocketNews24

The Japanese are known for their politeness, so it’s only natural that visitors to Japan want to know what to do, or not do, to avoid appearing rude. Check out this list of little behaviors that you won’t find in your guidebook.

I’ve compiled a list of things to think about when visiting Japan based on my own observations living here. None of the violations here will single you out as being rude per se, but if you can avoid these faux pas, you’ll earn the praise of the Japanese for being polite. That’s a pretty high honor in the land of politeness.

Okay, here we go:

1. Don’t ask your host for something unless you really need it.

This may seem obvious at first, but you’d be surprised how often I hear someone at a "minshuku" (a family-run Japanese-style inn) say to their host: “Do you have some extra batteries (or whatever)? If you don’t, that’s okay, but I’d really like to use my electric shaver.” This request is perfectly okay in your own country, because the assumption is that if the person doesn’t have said object, they’ll say so.

The Japanese, on the other hand, find it very hard to decline requests; on the contrary, they feel obligated to fulfill them! If they don’t have batteries, they’ll either sacrifice the ones from their own TV remote control, or may even go down to the store themselves to buy some for you, which, while admirable, probably isn’t your intention when asking. If it’s something you really need, then by all means go ahead and ask, but if you follow it up with “If you can’t do it, that’s okay,” then you probably don’t really need it anyway and you’re better off not putting your host out.

2. When you have to ask for help…

After 20 years of living in Japan, I’ve hardly ever been asked to do a personal favor for someone. This is because in Japan, you’re expected to not inconvenience others and only ask the help of others when you really need it. But for the times you do need someone’s help, be sure to thank them the Japanese way: with a proper gift. The few favors I have been asked regarded proofreading a colleague’s English abstract for a research paper, and translating an English letter someone received from abroad. Usually, these incidences involved someone knocking on my door while holding a bag containing an expensively wrapped delicacy. In other words, they were ready with the gift before they’d even asked the favor! As a tourist, there are times when you’re going to need help. Maybe someone drives you to the hospital, or goes out of their way to so something. These people should be rewarded properly with a quality gift that shows you care. This is not the time to penny-pinch; give something more than that koala clip you’ve been handing out to people along the way.

3. When asking little favors…

On the other hand, when someone does a little favor for you (maybe you borrowed a converter at the "minshuku" to plug in your electronics), that’s when to employ those koala clips, Japanese and American flag lapel pins, Swiss chocolate bars, Dutch clogs key chains, etc. Keep in mind that you can even give food or snacks to people (which can be really fun if you can find something unique or quirky from home to carry with you, such as Swiss cow flavored potato chips or something). I am frequently given cans of Pocari Sweat or canned juice when I do incidentals for Japanese people. In this case, it’s the gesture that counts, not how much you’ve spent.

4. Lower your voice. Yes, you!

One of the things you’ll notice when you come to Japan is that the Japanese are, generally speaking, quiet people. While they can be boisterous and loud when in groups (especially when drinking), the average person, when on his or her own, is downright demure. As a general rule, do not speak in a loud voice when having a conversation—regardless of whether the person you’re talking to is Japanese or a fellow foreigner— and don’t raise your voice when you get upset. A good rule to follow is: never talk louder than anyone else in the room, even if you’re angry. A booming voice is embarrassing to Japanese people who generally don’t like to attract attention or have their conversations overheard by those who aren’t a part of them, so be mindful of the other people around you. Pretend you’re in a museum if you have to.

5. Don’t dominate conversations

Be mindful that Japanese people are unlikely to jump into a conversation unless given the proper cues, which they’re probably waiting for.

I’ve mentioned being a better listener before, but it bears repeating. It’s easy to do all the talking in a conversation when Japanese people aren’t talking back the way you might expect them to. But usually your Japanese conversation partner just needs a bit more of a break in the conversation to jump in. Foreigners often mistake uncomfortable silences as an impetus to keep on talking. Resist the temptation and wait for the Japanese person to feel comfortable and start talking, or wait for a signal from the person (such as a request for more detail) before continuing. Japanese people will famously wait for you to finish your monologue before saying, “By the way…” and changing the subject, which they’ve been waiting to change for quite some time.

A good rule to follow is to insert questions into your dialogue every now and then. Questions invite the other person into the conversation and can also be used to check for comprehension to make sure the person is understanding your point.

6. Just the facts, please!

Slowing down the pace of your English just a tad (while resisting the urge to drop less important words) will also help when speaking with non-native English speakers because it gives them more time to process information. Good enunciation will also help your listener identify words which can sound completely different depending on the speaker’s accent. Cut the jokes, too. Most second language learners do not have the luxury of being able to understand sarcasm, innuendo, puns, etc. Again, just the facts, please! If you’ve ever watched the American TV show “South Park” you’ve probably noticed (besides its hilarious depictions of Japan) that it takes a while to clue into the fast talking, response-slinging, and slang-slaying used by the characters on the show. Have mercy on your listeners and don’t talk like a South Park character! 7. Level up your wardrobe

If you’re meeting up with Japanese people, dress nicely. it’s amazing how often I see smartly attired Japanese people dining with a foreigner who is wearing jeans and sneakers. It’s disrespectful to your guests as well as the restaurant. In Japan, jeans and sneakers are for musicians and artists.

8. Wear nice shoes

You’ll hardly ever see a Japanese person with shabby shoes. To the contrary, they’ll be clean, polished and probably of high quality. Why? It’s not just because the Japanese walk a lot to get around, but also because in Japan you often have to take your shoes off at the door to establishments (houses, restaurants, clinics, etc) so you don’t want to display worn, smelly footwear. Instead, be the well-heeled! Pity the poor woman (and yes, it is a woman!) who has to handle your shoes at the "genkan"(entrance) and turn them around so the toes are pointing outward, so that when you leave, you can slip right into them.

And while we’re at it, during the shoe to slipper exchange, when you step out of your shoes in the "genkan," step straight up onto the area where the slippers are waiting so as to avoid touching the dirty floor (where your shoes are) in your socks.

9. Barefoot, bare-chested, and bare-butted!

Despite the several naked festivals in Japan, flesh-flashing antics such as skinny dipping in the sea, even at night when you think no one is looking, is a no-no. Sorry, butt.

Men walking around bare-chested outside is considered uncouth too. I once noticed that in Bali, many of the Japanese young males walked around the streets (and even into the open-air restaurants), without shirts on. When I asked one of these guys about this peculiarity, he said they pad around shirtless, “Because we can’t do this in Japan!”

Going barefoot outside (naked feet) will also raise eyebrows as it violates the whole idea of keeping dirt out of the house or building since you’ll just track it back inside on the soles of your feet. If you don’t want to go to the trouble to put your shoes back on when you’re only going outside for a moment, then use the outdoor slippers provided for this purpose.

10. Hugs are awkward

No one is saying you can’t give a Japanese person a hug if you feel touched by something they did for you, but keep in mind this well-intended gesture will most likely make the person feel very uncomfortable. Yes, despite the limited success of the free hug campaign in Japan and the world, this level of physical contact still isn’t common here. My rule of thumb on this (because we just have to hug, don’t we?!) is if the person has lived abroad before, then give them a hug. If they haven’t, shake their hand instead. I’ve never met a Japanese person who didn’t get an absolute thrill out of a hand-shake, so extend your hand when you want to thank a Japanese person or say good-bye.

I hope some of these tips will help you on your way to becoming a well-informed, Japanese-level-polite tourist to Japan! If you have further suggestions based on your own experiences, please let us know in the comments section below. For that, I give you a hearty handshake.

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- The “doya-gao” phenomenon and where you’re most likely to see it -- 4 Japanese beauty fads that Westerners just don’t understand -- Valentine’s Day is coming in Japan! If you’re lucky, you just might get some blood and hair

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42 Comments
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Don't laugh in public or let on that your actually having any fun at any stage
4 ( +16 / -12 )

about japanese being quiet, my language tutor is so loud! but she may have picked that up after living in the uk for so long

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Couple of comments;

Don’t ask your host for something unless you really need it.

Wow, most people I know ask for something BECAUSE they need it. I am paying for the room, I see no reason why I have to worry about making a request or asking for something that I need.

You’ll hardly ever see a Japanese person with shabby shoes.

Really? Where are you living? Come down to my neck of the woods, people wear toilet slippers going shopping here.

13 ( +20 / -7 )

Well, all this advice is going to make the Olympics year a really fun time, with people tiptoeing around in suits, carrying little bags of airport tat for gifts, afraid to make the wrong move. . . .

Thanking someone for going out of their way for you, thanking someone for doing you a favour, that's just basic good manners. We should all have that.

Clothing? I arrived in Japan stressed out about the heels and skirt suits I'd had to buy beforehand; never needed them, and that was over 20 years ago. As long as what you're wearing is clean, you don't need to worry.

As for shoes? If they're not muddy, or hole-ridden, you're fine. Make sure your socks are clean and complete though, or you may be embarrassed when you take off your shoes.

If you want to hug someone and are not sure if they'll mind, ask if it's ok - just as you should anywhere in the world.

And yes, consider your audience and don't drone on. Again, this goes for half the world, including some Japanese people I know.

Show common sense, consideration and good manners - they are universal - and don't worry about the rest.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

Not loud? Are you kidding me? I often have to tell people to quiet down on trains as I and others are not into listening to their stupid private conversations. And especially if you get a bunch of older women together, they scream their conversations.

No shirts? Come down to the beach areas. No shirts is the norm even in stores for shopping. No one cares.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

"Men walking around bare-chested outside is considered uncouth too."

This is the only "tip" that seems a bit silly. If you're a visitor, just look around. Japanese guys never even wear tank tops, only t-shirts, so why would you ever think of going bare-chested in the street?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Come down to my neck of the woods, people wear toilet slippers going shopping here.

I'd rather not, thanks.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

This is to inform you that your message on JapanToday.com has been removed for the following reason: Off Topic

"Personally, I have found sooo many flaws in this article I'm not even going to bother addressing them

Moderator: Then don't bother posting anything."

I will post

Moderator: The purpose of the discussion board is to post comments on the story. If you disagree with the writer, then state why in a mature manner. The rules also state quite clearly that the moderators' decisions are final. Please do not post this again.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lower your voice. Yes, you! One of the things you’ll notice when you come to Japan is that the Japanese are, generally speaking, quiet people.

Unless you're an ossan / oyaji (especially in a group) with self-entitlement issues. There is just nothing worse. It's like there's a 'manners' switch that gets flicked off when they reach a certain age here.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Amy Chavez' articles always read as if the Japanese are some type of rare, mysterious species that need to be tip-toed around. People are people, everywhere, with a few tiny cultural differences that plain commonsense can deal with.

18 ( +22 / -4 )

Level up your wardrobe? How about upping your English?

Don’t ask your host for something unless you really need it.

I never ask anyone anywhere in the world, let alone an employee at a minshiku, for something unless I really need it. Same with points 2 & 3. Just good manners. The 'gift' in some places is a hardy Thank You Very Much - and an offer to help the other person in the future. Here, it seems to be more material in nature.

Lower your voice. Yes, you! & 5. Don't dominate conversations

Amy has obviously never been on a train, in a coffee shop or a McDonald's full of Older Women, High School Females, or a bar full of company employees. In the former examples, the volume can be deafening; in the latter, One person - the oldest man - holds court while the others nod and get stupid drunk.

If she means with new Japanese friends, well, duh. Common sense will indicate that is not a "When in Japan" situation. However, in all cultures there are lots of people who dominate all conversations regardless of place of birth (Donald Trump, for example).

Just the facts.

Communication is key, of course, but when it's reduced to the pidgin: "Beer. Okay?" It's time to mosey on to an English-speaking country to Let's Up Your English!

Barefoot, bare-chested, and bare-butted! & 10. Hugs are awkward.

Like many parts of the world other than Japan. In fact, a casual observation of the local populace should give one a hint as to how to handle oneself. If you're at the beach, shops allow bare-chested males. If you're at a RocketNews 24 editorial meeting, perhaps wearing clothes would be more appropriate. Perhaps.

Sorry, but this entire article seems designed to make the casual visitor as uptight and nervous as the locals about how to act in public vis a vis other humans.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Ah, more great life lessons from RocketNews24, Japan's unofficial propaganda machine.

Some of these inane tips are either insulting to foreigners (yeah, we all walk shirtless and shoeless outside cuz we're still closer to apes) and some are insulting to Japanese (level up the wardrobe cuz the Japanese must always wear the best! or don't ask a Japanese person for help cuz they don't want to really help you, but only do it out of obligation!)

Or these rules are just an insult to common sense.

Japan is just like every country I've ever been to. There are nice people, polite people, rude people, and poopheads. Act accordingly to the situation no matter who you are, where you are, or where you're from.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

"If you’re meeting up with Japanese people, dress nicely. it’s amazing how often I see smartly attired Japanese people dining with a foreigner who is wearing jeans and sneakers. It’s disrespectful to your guests as well as the restaurant. In Japan, jeans and sneakers are for musicians and artists"

Really? Where are you dining? I think I'd have enough common sense here.

The last time I went to an izakaya near my house I felt overdressed because I didn't take my socks off when sitting on the tatami.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

If Japan wants things like the Olympics, it needs to prepare for the fact that the world is filled with cultures that have some differences from their own. If they want the money these tourists will spending to help Japan's economy the country had better be prepared to show some patience if there are social and behaviour missteps.

Japan is not as mysterious as those intoxicated by it like to write. I have lived here 16 years, married to a wonderful wife from here and have a great extended family. Sure there are some things that are different, but in the end they are just people like anywhere else on earth.

Don't freak out. Just come to Japan and behave politely and don't do stupid insensitive things. And be prepared to be patient with things here that may be frustrating. It really is that simple.

If you are on holiday. Leave the suits at home. Foreign fashion is often a source of curiosity here and may raise your chances to meet someone friendly.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

After 20 years of living in Japan, I’ve hardly ever been asked to do a personal favor for someone.

Not in my case. I lived in Japan for 15 years and an elderly couple the family knew would stop by all the time, with a shopping list for items for me to pick up from the base commissary (only they insist if I were going. If I took my time getting them within a few days they would ask if I have gone to the store yet), and around this time of year giving me packages to mail back to the their friends in the US through the US postal system (is it really that expensive to mail through Japan Post) or having the return packages from people I don't know showing up and expecting me to deliver. All for some type of home made dish or some other "return gift."

Wear nice shoes

I've seen plenty of shabby shoes from people with nice clothes on in Japan. Also the comments on dressing appropriately needs to be considered. I have seen more mix/match in clothing, and some trends that don't really get picked up more so in Japanese wearing what they thing is "trending" than the clothes the writer says one shouldn't wear.

People are people, and yes Japan may have certain ways of doing things, but they are also like the rest of the world and people move to their own beat.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

As a traditional gentleman I found holding the door open for the ladies as I do in my country gives pleasant results.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Some of these seem to be fair pieces of advice for people visiting while others seem either ridiculous unless you actually are trying to assimilate or become (a very specific and narrow idea of) Japanese.

Really? I've never found this to be true, necessary or even followed by natives of Japan in my decade and a half. Ryokans can be fairly custom-bound, it's true, but also one of the only places where the taboo of tipping can actually be done in the right way.

"In Japan, jeans and sneakers are for musicians and artists"

Maybe you should step outside the American Club once in a while. The country is not, although it may seem at times, solely populated by salary men.

Of course that is just my perspective as these pieces of advice are surely just yours (and not the nation's).

PS the power of little gifts you may find do wonders in any corner of the world

1 ( +3 / -2 )

"I don't care what you do. I will not be silenced. And the fact that you deleted the 2 other posts that supported me shows your true colors to everyone on this site. Keep deleting my posts. I will repost them. I don't care. But you will not misuse your power as moderator to muzzle the contributors here.

This is to inform you that your message on JapanToday.com has been removed for the following reason: Off Topic

""Personally, I have found sooo many flaws in this article I'm not even going to bother addressing them

Moderator: Then don't bother posting anything."

I will post

Moderator: The purpose of the discussion board is to post comments on the story. The rules also state quite clearly

that the moderators' decisions are final. Please do not post this again

.

Let's talk about that. I did post a comment on the story and i found a million things wrong with it

If you disagree with the writer, then state why in a mature manner.

Follow your own advice. Deleting a post simply because it is off topic is hardly stating why in a mature manner. Moreover, you give me no means of redress or inquiry. you send message from an email we can't reply to. Again, hardly mature. I would like to address the issues you bring up, but you seem to delete posts when you don't like the poster and you give me no means with which to debate or even question you.

.

The rules also state quite clearly that the moderators' decisions are final

Make all the decisions you want, but don't practice favoritism by deleting one poster's posts and simply telling another on the forum to stick to the points. You have to treat us all the same. Happy to discuss this with you directly by email or phone. If that is unacceptable, then please stop deleting my posts because you don't like me.""

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I don't care what you do. I will not be silenced. And the fact that you deleted the 2 other posts that supported me shows your true colors to everyone on this site. Keep deleting my posts. I will repost them. I don't care. But you will not misuse your power as moderator to muzzle the contributors here. This is to inform you that your message on JapanToday.com has been removed for the following reason: Off Topic ""Personally, I have found sooo many flaws in this article I'm not even going to bother addressing them Moderator: Then don't bother posting anything." I will post Moderator: The purpose of the discussion board is to post comments on the story. The rules also state quite clearly that the moderators' decisions are final. Please do not post this again . Let's talk about that. I did post a comment on the story and i found a million things wrong with it If you disagree with the writer, then state why in a mature manner. Follow your own advice. Deleting a post simply because it is off topic is hardly stating why in a mature manner. Moreover, you give me no means of redress or inquiry. you send message from an email we can't reply to. Again, hardly mature. I would like to address the issues you bring up, but you seem to delete posts when you don't like the poster and you give me no means with which to debate or even question you. . The rules also state quite clearly that the moderators' decisions are final Make all the decisions you want, but don't practice favoritism by deleting one poster's posts and simply telling another on the forum to stick to the points. You have to treat us all the same. Happy to discuss this with you directly by email or phone. If that is unacceptable, then please stop deleting my posts because you don't like me.""

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japanese people will famously wait for you to finish your monologue before saying, “By the way…” and changing the subject, which they’ve been waiting to change for quite some time.

So, when they want to be rude, it's alright then? Someone is quiet because they aren't interested in what you have to say; just waiting for their turn at the monologue microphone , huh?

The Japanese are known for their politeness, so it’s only natural that visitors to Japan want to know what to do, or not do, to avoid appearing rude.

Appearances can be exceedingly deceiving. On the surface in a host/hostess/customer service type of scenario, they are pretty polite for the most part. In everyday situations, not so much. This article is basically the usual stereotypical drivel to help keep people thinking the place is unique or something. It is NOT. Oh, wait. They have four seasons, don't they? And hot springs. And...There I go with my gaijin monologue. Just can't help it!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

In Japan, jeans and sneakers are for musicians and artists

Good thing I'm a musician. Seriously though, in the group of well established and respected older guys I go out with, they are not that strict. Some wear suits and tie. One especially rich guy who drive a Rolls usually wears torn jeans and sandals.

I will say one thing that wasn't mentioned in the article - they very rarely use their smart phones while at the dinner table. And considering that their phone calls are probably more important than most people's phone calls, I find that impressive.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"I don't care what you do. I will not be silenced. And the fact that you deleted the 2 other posts that supported me shows your true colors to everyone on this site. Keep deleting my posts. I will repost them. I don't care. But you will not misuse your power as moderator to muzzle the contributors here.

This is to inform you that your message on JapanToday.com has been removed for the following reason: Off Topic

""Personally, I have found sooo many flaws in this article I'm not even going to bother addressing them

Moderator: Then don't bother posting anything."

I will post

Moderator: The purpose of the discussion board is to post comments on the story. The rules also state quite clearly

that the moderators' decisions are final. Please do not post this again

.

Let's talk about that. I did post a comment on the story and i found a million things wrong with it

If you disagree with the writer, then state why in a mature manner.

Follow your own advice. Deleting a post simply because it is off topic is hardly stating why in a mature manner. Moreover, you give me no means of redress or inquiry. you send message from an email we can't reply to. Again, hardly mature. I would like to address the issues you bring up, but you seem to delete posts when you don't like the poster and you give me no means with which to debate or even question you.

.

The rules also state quite clearly that the moderators' decisions are final

Make all the decisions you want, but don't practice favoritism by deleting one poster's posts and simply telling another on the forum to stick to the points. You have to treat us all the same. Happy to discuss this with you directly by email or phone. If that is unacceptable, then please stop deleting my posts because you don't like me.""

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"I don't care what you do. I will not be silenced. And the fact that you deleted the 2 other posts that supported me shows your true colors to everyone on this site. Keep deleting my posts. I will repost them. I don't care. But you will not misuse your power as moderator to muzzle the contributors here.

This is to inform you that your message on JapanToday.com has been removed for the following reason: Off Topic

""Personally, I have found sooo many flaws in this article I'm not even going to bother addressing them

Moderator: Then don't bother posting anything."

I will post

Moderator: The purpose of the discussion board is to post comments on the story. The rules also state quite clearly

that the moderators' decisions are final. Please do not post this again

.

Let's talk about that. I did post a comment on the story and i found a million things wrong with it

If you disagree with the writer, then state why in a mature manner.

Follow your own advice. Deleting a post simply because it is off topic is hardly stating why in a mature manner. Moreover, you give me no means of redress or inquiry. you send message from an email we can't reply to. Again, hardly mature. I would like to address the issues you bring up, but you seem to delete posts when you don't like the poster and you give me no means with which to debate or even question you.

.

The rules also state quite clearly that the moderators' decisions are final

Make all the decisions you want, but don't practice favoritism by deleting one poster's posts and simply telling another on the forum to stick to the points. You have to treat us all the same. Happy to discuss this with you directly by email or phone. If that is unacceptable, then please stop deleting my posts because you don't like me.""

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think the author has just played on stereotypes. The Japanese I know relate to none of the above.

They have their flaws like the rest of us.

And I hate when people say that Japanese are polite. They are no more or less polite than most other countries. In fact it seems more forced in certain situations.

Politeness without sincerity is worse imo.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Another great article with polarizing effect: A battalion of euphemisms and metaphors that basically speaketh of the mythical bungling foreigner who is unable to tune in and adapt to the fine intricacies and subtleties of a certain unnamed culture. And why mention it! Is there not another culture on earth as refined, sophisticated, unique, and correct as this one that we speaketh of? I'm mean, when God speaks of culture this is the one that he must praiseth.

I haven't been in Japan as long as the author has, but just long enough to know when someone ( usually a foreigner ) starts an article or a conversation in an uppity tone and the phrases "The Japanese are this..." or "The Japanese are that..." what's sure to follow will be a load of stinky, squishy stuff.

When talking about politeness, especially when getting fluffy about it and trying it to promote one race as superior than another, it's important to keep in mind that real politeness comes from unmotivated intentions, the expectation of nothing in return, and doing it because you simply want to do it and feel good about doing it. This is in stark contradiction to being polite out of a an obligation to a rubric, a ceremony, or doing it for bragging rights. Yelling at me the word "welcome" while your back is turned to me and your staring at the floor is less polite, in my view, than looking at me in the eye and saying "please wait, I'll be right with you." Also, helping me because you genuinely want to is more polite than helping me because you assume I'm a bungler and to stupid to understand ( a talking horse ); and you think afterward of said help that your uncarbonated actions permit you to push up your nose in the air at me.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

And I hate when people say that Japanese are polite. They are no more or less polite than most other countries. In fact it seems more forced in certain situations.

I agree. And it is forced in certain situations because of that whole "Wa" social harmony gimmick the japanese hosts are constantly playing.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

What a load of BS

0 ( +0 / -0 )

also be careful when breathing, the japanese are polite enough to hold their breath while in public in order to not suck too much air from the common areas.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Another no no "Don't whistle in public".

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A trick list of what to do/not to do in Japan would have made for a more interesting article...

When eating rice, stand your chopsticks straight up in the rice and say "shi-ne" in a loud voice. It shows that you think the rice is delicious.

When out walking with your host family's mother, if you happen to pass a garishly decorated hotel near the station, say something like, "This would be a great place to stay!" She will be glad to know that you are appreciating the local facilities.

Give your Japanese girlfriend a bunch of chrysanthemums on the first date. They are considered more romantic than roses in Japan and she will melt in your arms.

On concluding a business deal, say to your Japanese counterpart, "O-mae wa baka da ne!" It signifies respect and shows that you admire his negotiating skills.

If, during dinner, your Japanese friend seems to have a particularly delicious looking dish, take a piece directly from his/her chopsticks. It's the traditional way to sample each other's food.

If a Japanese friend goes into hospital, make sure to visit with a potted plant as a present. When giving the plant, make sure to say, "Nagai aida, iro-iro arigato". This indicates that you are praying for his/her speedy recovery.

At the kaiten sushi shop, make sure that you return empty plates to the conveyor belt. It's a gracious gesture that will save the restaurant staff a lot of time.

Before coming to Japan, make sure to practice eating curry with chopsticks. It will save you a lot of embarrassment when served curry by your Japanese hosts.

When greeting older Japanese businessmen, instead of saying the usual "Konnichiwa", say "Hage bouzu!" It's an honorofic reserved only for middle-aged Japanese men and will mark you out as a particularly polite person.

etc.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

cho-waru, you are wicked!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Not wicked, just choi waru.

There's one more I forgot.

When receiving a business card from a new business acquaintance, never look at the card. Immediately put it into you back pocket and, if possible, try to break wind loudly at the same time. This is traditional and indicates that you have 'marked' your new acquaintance as a future business partner.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

@choiwaruoyaji

I've never met you and don't know where you live but I sure as heck wanna have a beer or ten with you.

My kinda "itazura" thinking.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Oh please. It ain't 1940. We;ve have teevee and jet planes for quite some time now.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have notice recently that Japanese elderly men are going out wearing wifebeaters has increased during the warmer months. If you are going to a high class restaurant, just ring and ask about dress rules. I prefer to casual wear or I wear a Yukata

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

When visiting Japan (as anywhere), just be yourself. Authenticity always trumps mimicry.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Don’t ask your host for something unless you really need it.

That's obvious.

When you have to ask for help…

I've never had issues asking for help, and my Japanese friends have never had issues with it, same with entry 3.

Lower your voice. Yes, you!

I'm quietly spoken anyway.

Don’t dominate conversations

I'm not an extrovert so wouldn't dominate the conversation anyway.

Just the facts, please!

Sadly being British I add puns and asides anyway... and can't help my 'British sense of humour' surfacing. Luckily the Japanese people I know don't have issues with that.

Level up your wardrobe

Bugger that - I only take comfy clothing on my holidays, so jeans and walking shoes it is. I could take a kilt but J police would probably arrest me and people would point and stare.

Wear nice shoes

As mentioned above... my office footwear would take up room in my luggage that could be used for another pair of denims.

Barefoot, bare-chested, and bare-butted!

I'm not in love with my body so wouldn't do that anyway.

Hugs are awkward

My Japanese friends respond to my hugs with equal hugs.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Do as Japanese do everybody! How about not being a robot and do whatever you want, you could be dead tomorrow and nobody gives a hoot what you do anyway because your still a foreigner, no need to sell your soul for some imaginary approval.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm depressed to learn I've been in Japan longer than Amy.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Superficiality is a killer of genuineness. Explore your emotions, and don't succumb to what people should tell you to do.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I totally agree with the author. Everything she says is what the majority of polite good Japanese follow and adhere to. Having said that, there are exceptions as mentioned by our lovely foreign residents who refuse to adapt. Hugs are very awkward to the normal Japanese. Doesnt mean you shouldnt introduce them to this gesture. It just means be a little considerate and explain how hugs are common from where you come and if it is ok to give one. Its very common for men of some cultures to kiss other men on the cheek as a greeting. Imagine if those men were as inconsiderate as many of the commentators on JT and gave you guys a kiss on the cheek. I bet that guy would be on their arse.

Yes, there are rude people in Japan. Many high school kids and elderly do speak in loud shrieks but that isnt the norm and that is rude. Please gaijin, do not follow those bad examples.

A lot of what was mentioned is common sense or you would think so. Unfortunately, people in general lack it and hence the article.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

*7. Level up your wardrobe

If you’re meeting up with Japanese people, dress nicely. it’s amazing how often I see smartly attired Japanese people dining with a foreigner who is wearing jeans and sneakers. It’s disrespectful to your guests as well as the restaurant. In Japan, jeans and sneakers are for musicians and artists.*

I was invited to a restaurant located near the foot of the Tokyo Tower by my tutor's friend, and while I had 'smart' clothes specially purchased, fitted and brought along to wear for the occasion I was ultimately told to instead come in a comfortable t-shirt and jeans.

My tutor similarly went in a t-shirt, jeans and a semi-smart jacket while his friend, our host, showed up in a t-shirt and jeans. This was at an establishment where the most basic set meal began at 23,000jpy at the time and booking to eat there was unlikely to be successful unless one was already a regular (our host was) or had sufficient societal status for the visitation to be worth the establishment's time.

I imagine the 'rule' is generally true, but it seems native Japanese folk are perfectly happy to break it themselves.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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