10 Japanese Customs You Should Know Before You Visit Japan

Japan, like most Asian countries, takes their etiquette seriously. So, it is good to equip yourself with some basic knowledge of Japanese daily etiquette.


Travel Tips

1. Know how to bow


Japanese of all ages and backgrounds bow in greeting each other (even on the telephone!), and foreign visitors who at least bob the head will get a smile of recognition. However, Japanese know all about handshaking as well, and the visitor's head may crash with an outstretched hand.


2. Stand on the correct side when using the escalators


As most of the people in cities in Japan are always rushing (I have no idea why the Japanese are always rushing), make sure you stand at the correct side to read your map when using the escalators, so you will not be blocking the rushing Japanese. In Tokyo, stand on the left side, and pass on the right side when using the escalators. It is the opposite in Osaka, pass on the left and stand on the right.

3. Take off the shoes


Places like restaurants, hostels/hotels, temples or museums in Japan will sometimes ask the visitors remove their shoes before entering. So, for those who have certain problems with your feet, make sure you know how to handle it.

4. No tipping

401(K) 2012/Flickr

There is no need to tip at restaurants in Japan as a service tax is usually included in the bill.

5. Clean yourself before entering public bath


Unlike western countries, make sure you clean yourself before going into a public bath.

6. Finish your food


Try to finish the food served because it is considered impolite if you leave the food unfinished.

7. Use chopsticks correctly


Bear in mind, all the food is served with chopsticks. So, make sure you learn some basic chopsticks skills before you visit Japan. There may be a fork and knife upon request.

8. Punctuality


Every minute counts in Japan. The Japanese take punctuality seriously, so if you plan a meeting with the locals, make sure you turn up on time. Lame excuses are not acceptable.

9. Do Slurp


Unlike in western cultures, slurping when eating your noodles (like ramen, udon or soba; not spaghetti) is acceptable.

10. Wearing a mask


Finally, wear a mask if you are not feeling well. To protect themselves and others, you will see 7 out of 10 Japanese on the train wearing a mask. So, if you have a cold, even a slight cold, make sure you get a mask in a nearby convenient store.

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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