Photo: GaijinPot

Traveling with Japanese in-laws: What to expect

By Cassandra Lord

Traveling with in-laws for the first time is already daunting, but throw in language barriers and the possibility of a cultural faux-pas, and you’ll be sweating buckets just thinking about it.

Luckily for you, I’ve been on a trip or two with my Japanese in-laws, so here I’ll share some of my experiences and how to navigate what may seem like a confusing cultural maze.

Courtesies beforehand

When traveling with in-laws, you need to be polite and considerate. However, when traveling with Japanese in-laws, you need to pay extra attention to cultural nuances and expectations. In the initial stages of planning the trip, offer your suggestions and light-hearted opinions on travel spots. If you’re not involved in the messages or email chains, ask your partner if they need any help.

At this point, it’s also a good idea to get in touch with your in-laws to say a simple thank you for organizing the trip and that you’re looking forward to it.

Here are some easy phrases you can use:


Who’s going to pay?

It will vary by family, and perhaps even by the trip, but my best advice is never to assume they will pay for you when traveling with in-laws. If they don’t, you’ll be prepared, and if they do, you’ll be that much more grateful. Assuming they will pay for the trip might end up in you seeming ungrateful and them disliking you, so let’s avoid that!

It’s also a good idea to check now and then for different activities. For example, while they might have paid for you and your partner’s accommodation, perhaps they expect you to pay for your dinner portion. If, after offering once or twice to pay for dinner, your in-laws are paying every time, make sure to thank them after they’ve paid.

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© GaijinPot

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I already know that long time ago. For the new comers to Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Just be polite, as you would to the in-laws of any nationality.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

My wife handles all this - she’ll let me know when I should be initiating to pay for a meal etc… my in laws never show their emotions so i can never tell if they dislike me…. But with my wife, she and her mother talk on the phone frequently and will hint at her if I’ve ever pissed them off…

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Funny, common courtesy is indeed "common". I didn't see anything called out the really doesn't apply to any of the cultures in my family. We have Brazilian/Portuguese, Romanian and of course Japanese all represented all would expect these courtesies.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

ignore external pressures and outdated advises, simple etiquette is, You be You. Problems in society today is too much coaching of how we live and conduct ourselves which is to say we become who we are not.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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