Sorry! If this tittle sounds a bit provoking 😅 You need a good article tittle to draw attention, right? 😅
Many of my friends are traveling to Japan these days, (thank you!) and they always ask me what’s okay to do and not okay to do. If you are planning on traveling to Japan, but never been there before – this article is for you!
Japan is a country that take manners / etiquette very seriously.
Honestly… humm, Me, a native Japanese person, even feels that Japanese manners can be a bit strict 😅, maybe because I have lived abroad for a long time. I think manners in Western world is more light and easy. I believe that’s one of the reasons why some Japanese people prefer living in the West. 😛
1. Smoke and Walk
Japan used to be a big smoking country, but it was until 90s ….. now more and more people stop smoking, and the people’s attention towards smoking has become strict.
Please, DO NOT SMOKE AND WALK outside.
It’s considered rude in Japan… also it can be dangerous, what if your cigarette touches someone’s hands when crossing a walk….or even to small kids?
Also people don’t like to smell smoke.
…what do I do? I am a smoker and traveling to Japan!
Japan welcomes you of course! Just, please be aware that we have strict smoking rules….
But here are some tips how you can still enjoy smoking & traveling in Japan.
Go visit Izakaya
Izakaya – is a Japanese style bar.
You order food ( can be snacks or full meal) and alcohol.
Almost all big Izakayas (Japanese style bars) have smoking / non-smoking sections.
Some small private owned Izakayas may be none-smoking, so you may want to ask about smoking before you sit on a table.
Izakayas stay open until 2am~5am.
There are some cafes that allow you to smoke. But more and more cafes are becoming none-smoking. Try to look for a bit ‘shabby’ ‘not-so-trendy-looking’ cafes…they’re usually smoking ok.
Or, try to find DOTOR.
DOTOR (ドトール) is Japanese coffee chain shop.
DOTOR is very affordable – coffee starts from $2.30 (I personally think Starbucks is too expensive.)
– and they have “strict” smoking area!
What do I mean by “strict” smoking area … means, some DOTOR separates rooms by automatic door.
2. Eat and Walk
This is not necessary rude….but it’s not a very good behaviour. It just doesn’t look “sophysicated”.
Many kids are taught by parents, “Do not eat while walking.”
But I think it depends on what you eat…. if it’s something small like pastry bread, or rice balls, something small and can be finished quickly, not that bad at all.
Please do not eat like bento or noodles – something real meal on a street,
except festivals / sightseeing, tourist spots.
Festivals / Sightseeing spots are a bit different, as people go there to enjoy food and atmosphere.
3. Talk Loud/ Talk on the phone in a train
Talking on the phone in public transportation is considered to be extremely rude in Japan.
Please be sure to switch your phone to silent mode. If you got some phone calls, please wait until you get off at your station…. Nobody needs to hear your talk, passengers enjoy their quiet time.
If you want to listen to music, be careful not to listen too loud because the sound can be leaked from your headphones. That locals really don’t like, either…
4. Your feet.
I’m talking about Feet Manners.
I’ve seen this 👇a lot in western movies…. I was shocked at the first time!
In Japan, you never, never never do this.
Please do not put up your feet in public. It’s extremely rude !
Even crossing legs in front of older people or your boss is considered to be impolite. Japan is really strict with “feet manners”. If you are traveling to Japan with kids, both small or big, I recommend reading my other article about Train etiquette that is listed on #7.
5. Making Out in public
I get it. You guys are in love.
It’s perfectly fine to hold hands with your lovers. What I mean make out like you know, tongue fighting kiss, (french kiss) and holding hands looking at each other 3cm away completely in love world…. even hugging may be a bit too much.
Those gestures will make other Japanese people around you a bit uncomfortable. 😅
We know you two are insanely in love, but please wait until you get back to where you are staying … or you can always go to a love hotel 😉
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6. Sit directly on the floors, streets, platforms
It’s considered to be ‘sloppy’ when people are sitting on anywhere other than areas that people are supposed to sit. Almost.
Floors – train floors, department stores’ floors, any public buildings’ floors.
Streets or apartments’ stairs…
Better not sit down there. It seems like Japanese young generation nowadays are more loosen up especially for sitting manners, but I hope you, as tourists, don’t copy them…
7. Leave the bathroom door opened
When my parents hosted a foreign student as a HomeStay Program, my father called me and asked for a help.
” She always leave the bathroom door opened. So I have to go close it every time she finishes…. 😟”
So I had to explain to her that in Japan, you always close any doors once you open.
It’s a small thing and easy to forget if you’re used to leave it open,
but I hope you will read this article before traveling to Japan as a reminder!
Are you surprised at hear some of them? Are some manners same as your country?
I am not trying to be a manner police. 😅
but these are the big manner differences – that I can see both of them – that’s because I am native Japanese, grew up in Japan but have been living in Western countries for a long time. So I understand both point of views.
Basically, look around. See what other locals are doing.
If you are not doing anything too eccentric, you’ll be ok.
Feel Free to contact me if you have any questions!
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