When visiting another country, it’s customary for travelers to do some research on the culture to interact appropriately with the local residents. No one wants to appear disrespectful as a visitor, especially where there are likely to be many traditions and social practices present in daily life, like in Japan.
There is no expectation for foreigners to have a solid handle on Japanese etiquette. Still, most tourists will take it upon themselves to learn at least a few cultural basics to avoid embarrassment or worse. Let’s look at a few things that you don’t want to do when visiting this lovely country.
Many people enjoy traveling, and lots do so often with the inclination to see the world. In order to globetrot to destinations like Japan, you not only need to have the best travel deals from trusted companies like All Japan Tours, but it’s vital to bring with you cultural etiquette. Each takes adequate time and effort to ensure ideal results.
When choosing to use a travel agency to arrange a package deal, all arrangements are made so you can concentrate on researching the do’s and don’ts of social awareness. In a country such as Japan, there are significant interpersonal and public rules that the local residents follow in the day-to-day.
Foreigners aren’t expected to understand each of these, but general knowledge can save them from insulting someone or worse. Let’s look at a few tips on this that you should avoid when you have the fortune of receiving an incredible tour/vacation package.
You will make a fantastic impression if you maneuver chopsticks like a pro. However, if you break specific rules, you could bring some frowns from fellow diners. The chopsticks should never be placed vertically in the rice bowl, typical for a funeral ritual.
When laying them down, they need to sit next to the dinner plate in the holder. Don’t pass food to another person using your chopsticks – you’ve eaten off of these.
When you share dishes of food, take what you would like onto your plate before beginning to eat with your chopsticks. A big rude mark is given to people who rub their sticks together.
Many people worldwide are already aware of this rule, but for those who are not, shoes are not worn indoors in a Japanese home; they come off as soon as you enter the door.
The consideration is that shoes coming from outside are unclean and need replacing with shoes from indoors. You will find slippers at the entryway of the household to replace the outerwear. The tradition transitions to “ryokan hotels,” shrines, temples, hospitals, some public establishments, and school systems as well.
In restaurants where shoes are not worn, there are no slippers either. Patrons will sit on “tatami mats” on the floor for which any type of footwear could damage the matting made of straw.
Another etiquette regarding shoes, indoor slippers is not to go near the toilet. There are specific toilet slippers at the entryway to the toilet facilities, typically a separate space from the available bathroom.
Many of the homes in Japan come equipped with bathtubs. Residents will luxuriate with heated water, but they do not bathe their bodies in these. The “furo,” as traditional tubs reference in Japan, is a small, square, and deep unit differing from a western variety.
Before you can use one of these, you have to “scrub” your body in a “faucet” or shower, generally close to the tub. If you go to an “onsen, “the reference for a public bath, you must be showered before taking advantage of this luxury. There are also other rules for the communal bath:
- Hair needs tying up so none will fall in the water
- No bathing suits in the bath
- Towels cannot touch the water
- No swimming allowed
- No one with a tattoo can use an onsen
** When visiting, keep tattoos from sight—the Japanese frown on tattoos since they see these as having an association with gangs. Go here for guidance on other things you should do as a tourist.
It is “uncouth” to take out a tissue and blow your nose in a public setting. You must do so in a private location. A common sight, particularly in the winter season, is to see locals wearing face masks. Often, these individuals don’t want to infect others with germs since they might have a cold or another ailment.
Tipping is a mandatory gesture in the United States, but there is a no-tipping culture among the Japanese. Doing so can actually be viewed as an insult. Bills include services at restaurants, and the suggestion is cabs will even disallow the rider giving an even amount to spare change.
Claims indicate wait staff will come after diners who “accidentally” leave money on the table.
When you organise a package deal to such a stunning country as Japan make sure you do your research on social customs, so you’re not caught unaware.
The Japanese are lovely and will not expect you to understand everything, but it is a respectful gesture to learn the do’s and don’ts to keep your manners in line.