Top 10 DOs and DON’Ts in Japan (Manners and etiquette)

1. Do know how to hold and use a Hashi (Chopstick)

The majority of the people that’s living within the Asian region use chopsticks as their main tool to deliver food to their mouth. Chopsticks, as you may know, a tool to eat with two sticks. Seem difficult to come through but very easy when you get used to it. Know that stabbing food or leaving your chopstick stabbing in food is known to be rude in Japan. Try as best to hold your food with a chopstick, and rest your chopstick on a chopstick rest or over the dish.

2. Eating manners in Japan

Every country has its own eating manners and Japan has their own as well. It is commonly known that while eating spaghetti you are not supposed to slurp or make noise, however in Japan, while eating noodle you are allowed to slurp. Sometimes people in Japan say that it might as well respectful to slurp while eating noodle since it shows that this noodle is delicious.

3. Formal and in formal Japanese

In the Japanese language, there is a formal and informal way of speaking. The informal way would be the ordinary conversation with friends, family, or to people who are younger that doesn’t need a formal approach. Simply if you know Japanese, you would know have no problem but if you only know a few words, you should know this concept. If you carry a conversation with a stranger, formal Japanese would be used which your sentence would usually end with a desu or masu (です、ます)

4. Bow

Bowing is an important part of the Japanese culture which shows respect and dignity to each other. Bowing are made in greetings and in times for apologies. In business situations, bowing is an extremely important way to show respect.

5. Movie theater and public area Volume

You should know that the Japanese are very sensitive to sound and as common knowledge speaking in load tone at public transportation or area would be inappropriate. In public areas, Japanese shows respect to others and at movie theaters, the Japanese would not laugh out loud or make comments during the movie.

6. Littering and smoking

As in many other countries, littering and smoking are not allowed in public areas. Smoking is only allowed at designated smoking areas, on your property, or a hotel room that allows smoking in the room. Regarding littering, it is simply not allowed and most of the Japanese would not litter. Most of the time, garbage are separated from plastic, burnable, and cans in Japan. In urban areas, it is prohibited to throw away alcohol cans and bottles without being washed (only living in a neighborhood or apartments). In addition, all garbage has been thrown away in a trash bag that is issued by the prefecture.

7. Bathing at hot spring (onsen/温泉)

There are rules and manners bathing at the hot spring in Japan. Most of the time, the manners posted at the hot spring however some places don’t because it is known as common knowledge. First, people with tattoos are not allowed to bath at the hot spring. In Japan, people with tattoos are imaged as Japanese gangsters (Yakuza) and for long, they were prohibited from hot springs because the other customers would feel uncomfortable. Today, people get tattoos as fashion however many hot springs still prohibit tattoos. Although some places allow people with tattoos if they were hidden or you wear a swimsuit. Second, you must wash your self before you get in the hot spring since everybody shares the same hot spring. Also jumping inside or swimming is simply not allowed. Third, you must not put your towel inside the hot spring.

8. Lining up

Being in line in Japan would feel different than lining up in other countries. It is uncommon in Japan for people to cut in a line. There is a good amount of spacing between the lines and are formed straight, so there are not many fights or commotion no matter how long the line is. Japanese learn from their early ages the manners and patients of being in line.

You would be able to see how it would look if you visit a huge event or festival.

9. Walking on the left

In Japan, people would walk on the left side on the road and stand on the left side of the escalator. Also, roads in Japan are built to drive on the left side of the road. The reason has not been clearly made however it is assumed that centuries ago when Japanese men walked with samurai swords, Japanese would walk on the left side to avoid bumping into each other’s swords. Since then the culture of walking on the left side has remained.

Although, in some western side of Japan people would stand on the right side of the escalator. That is simply because many people were right-handed and some western prefecture set a rule to stand on the right side of the escalator.

10. Barefoot

In Japan, people would live barefoot inside the house and it would be extremely rude to enter someone’s house with your shoes on. In addition, when you take off your shoes, you can get a good impression if you set back your shoes to face the door or off to the side. Also, don’t forget to say “o-jama-shima-su” when entering someone’s house.