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Things Not to Do in Japan! Something You Must Know Before Your Japan Trip

Sep 28,2023 | Tom

Free photo woman wearing japanese traditional kimono with umbrella at yasaka pagoda and sannen zaka street in kyoto, japan.

photo woman wearing japanese traditional kimono with umbrella at yasaka pagoda and sannen zaka street in kyoto, japan.

Japan is a country with a rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, and a unique blend of ancient traditions and modern innovations. When traveling to Japan, it's essential to have some introductory knowledge to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. So, today in this article we will show you something about Japan.

Brief Introduction to Japan

Japan, officially known as Nippon or Nihon, is an island country located in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean and is bordered by the Sea of Japan to the west. Japan is comprised of an archipelago consisting of 14,125 islands, with the largest islands being Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa.

Japanese culture has a rich and fascinating history that has evolved over thousands of years. The origins of the Japanese people are believed to stem from a mingling of indigenous Jōmon people and later arrivals of the Yayoi people from the East Eurasian continent. The Yayoi culture played a significant role in shaping Japan's indigenous culture, which integrated with the native Jōmon culture. Today, modern Japanese people have an estimated 80% Yayoi and 20% Jōmon ancestry.

Throughout history, Japanese culture has been influenced by various dynasties in China, particularly during the Tang dynasty. This influence is evident in aspects such as writing, with Chinese characters (kanji) being utilized in the Japanese language. However, it's important to note that the Japanese has no genetic relationship with the Chinese.

Not-to-Do Things in Japan

Photo text taboo letters by on woodens blocks on pale lilac background in concept of business and corporation

Photo text taboo letters by on woodens blocks on pale lilac background in concept of business and corporation

As a typical oriental country, there are many cultural taboos you need to pay attention to to avoid unpleasant travel experiences. As the saying goes, "When in Roma, do as the Romans do ". It also works in Japan or any other country. Respect for a different culture is always a criterion of great importance when landing in a country as a foreigner

Here is a list of not-to-do things in Japan that covers various topics, etiquettes, and practices:

  • Wearing Shoes Indoors

Free photo woman wearing beautiful japanese kimonos and obi

photo woman wearing beautiful japanese kimonos and obi

It is customary to remove your shoes before entering a Japanese home, traditional establishments, temples, and some restaurants. Be sure to bring your own pair of house slippers when visiting someone's home.

  • Wearing the Same House Shoes in the Bathroom

It is considered unclean to wear the same slippers used indoors inside the bathroom. Most Japanese households provide separate slippers for bathroom use.

  • Ignoring Proper Bowing Etiquette

Photo japanese lady bowing in front of her house with beautiful kimono. traditional lifestyle in jp. attractive woman with colorful kimono clothing in summer.

Photo japanese lady bowing in front of her house with beautiful kimono. traditional lifestyle in jp.

Bowing is a common form of greeting and showing respect in Japan. Be mindful of the depth and duration of your bow, as it can convey different levels of respect depending on the situation. In general, a slight bow is suitable for casual encounters, while a deeper bow is appropriate for formal occasions.

  • Misusing Chopsticks

Free photo hand with chopsticks and sushi

photo hand with chopsticks and sushi

Avoid sticking chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice, as it resembles a funeral ritual. Instead, place them horizontally on a chopstick rest or a tissue.

  • Pointing with Chopsticks

Pointing with chopsticks is generally considered impolite. If you need to indicate something, it's better to use verbal communication or gestures.

  • Eating or Drinking While Walking

It is considered impolite to eat or drink while walking in public. Find a designated eating area or restaurant to enjoy your food or beverage.

  • Talking Loudly on Public Transportation

When using public transportation, such as trains or buses, maintain a quiet and respectful atmosphere. Talking loudly on the phone or having loud conversations can be considered disruptive.

  • Using Mobile Phones on Public Transportation

Photo business people standing in metro mass transit subway. man using tablet and smartphone. people wearing face mask. coronavirus flu virus in public travel. Photo business people standing in metro mass transit subway. man using tablet and smartphone. people wearing face mask. coronavirus flu virus in public travel.

While using mobile phones on public transportation is not forbidden, it is customary to set devices to silent mode and keep conversations brief and discreet.

  • Tipping

Free photo closeup of customer paying to a waitress in a cafe Free photo closeup of customer paying to a waitress in a cafe

Unlike in many Western countries, tipping is not a common practice in Japan. In fact, it can sometimes be seen as impolite or confusing. Service charges are typically included in bills, so additional tipping is not necessary.

  • Blowing Your Nose in Public

Blowing your nose loudly in public places, such as trains or restaurants, is considered impolite. If you need to blow your nose, it is recommended to do so discreetly in a restroom or use a handkerchief.

Remember, these are general guidelines to help you navigate Japanese culture respectfully. When in doubt, observing and following the lead of the locals can go a long way in ensuring a positive and respectful experience in Japan. Please note that cultural customs may vary, and it's always good to do additional research and be open to learning and adapting while traveling.

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