Japan is on many people’s bucket list. It’s a beautiful country rich in history and culture. Every year, the number of foreign visitors in Japan increases. In 2016, it rose to a record 24.04 million up by 21.8 percent.
Japan is a popular destination for many reasons, one of which is the people themselves. The Japanese are very welcoming to tourists. They are warm, friendly, and very respectful. However, tourists should be made aware that there are everyday things that we do that the Japanese might deem disrespectful. If you plan to visit Japan for the the first time, keep in mind the following dos and don’ts.
1. Keep left.Or keep right, depending on which city you are in. Keep this in mind when you’re riding the escalator or going up and down the stairs. If unsure, just observe the people around you.
2. Mind the queue.The Japanese are fond of order. Just before you get on the train, remember to fall in line. There are two lines on each side of the car door. Also, don’t block the passengers getting off the train. They have priority. Once everyone has gotten off, then you can proceed to go inside.
3. No cellphones on the train.Don’t talk on your phone when you are riding the train or metro. The Japanese consider this impolite. Also, when you are near the priority seats, make sure your phones are off as the signal could affect someone’s pacemaker. You can listen to music or watch a video but make sure you have your headphones on.
4. Don’t stick your chopsticks in a bowl of rice.You may wonder what is so taboo about this practice. It is considered bad luck and it reminds people of death because the Japanese leave a bowl of rice with chopsticks stuck vertically in it for their departed loved ones.
5. Slurp away.While slurping is considered bad manners in the West, in Japan it is more than acceptable. It’s actually preferred. It shows that you appreciate the food that someone has prepared for you. So don’t hesitate to make that slurping sound when you’re enjoying a nice steaming bowl of ramen.
6. Don’t wear too much perfume.You wear perfume because you want to. However, you have to remember that most of the time you will be riding the metro to go from point A to point B, and Japanese trains are almost always packed. Stick to a mild scent and limit yourself to one spritz instead of your usual five.
7. There is no tipping.While tipping is a common practice in other countries, it is not so in Japan. There is no need to tip your waiter or taxi driver. My take on this is that they are already being paid for the service they offer. There’s no need to give them any more money.
8. Remember to use your indoor voice.The Japanese are a very proper people. They are not loud at all. By keeping your volume low, you are showing them respect. Remember, you are a guest in their country. Like what they say, when in Rome…
9. Bow.When they bow to you, bow back. This is one way of showing your friend, host, or acquaintance that you value them as much as they value you. Take note of how low they go and do the same.
10. Say “Arigatou gozaimasu.”Whenever I go to Japan, I always say “thank you” in Japanese. This is one way of showing your appreciation of the service you received. The Japanese love that we try to speak their language. It is a way of giving them respect and honoring them.
By: Katy Concepcion-Wiggins