Home > Do’s & Don’ts When Visiting Japan

Do’s & Don’ts When Visiting Japan

31/03/2015 | Schools, News

Japan is known for its unique culture and diverse way of life and is sure to provide an exciting and life changing experience for those looking for somewhere a little different.

It can take a number of years to fully get to grips with the many customs of Japan, which at times can be seen as confusing.

Taking a look at our list of dos and don’ts when visiting Japan will not only help to enhance your Japanese experience but also to avoid any embarrassing moments!


1. Do Bring Gifts

It is a cultural tradition in Japan to bring gifts. This can be a slightly confusing Japanese custom, as giving a gift inappropriately or giving no gift at all can cause embarrassment. As a visitor to Japan a small gesture presenting an aspect of your home culture will be warmly welcomed by your hosts – it can also work as a great conversation starter.

2. Do Remove Your Shoes

The custom in Japan is to remember to remove your shoes when entering a house. You should see a rack near the entrance, with slippers for you to put on. The Japanese take dirty shoes very seriously and should not be worn especially on Japanese flooring known as Tatami. There are also special slippers that you’ll need to wear when going to the toilet, so make sure that you don’t take those ones outside.

3. Do Use Your Chopsticks

Many Japanese restaurants should supply you with a chopstick holder. When you are not using your chopsticks it is important to place them back on the holder. Chopsticks should never be placed upright in a bowl of rice as this resembles a custom performed at Japanese funerals!

4. Do Say `Thank you’ After Eating

Do put your palms together and say “Gochiso sama deshita” after finishing a meal – it is a polite way of expressing “Thank you creating this feast.”

5. Do Try And Speak The Language

Try and use the limited Japanese you know, even a small effort is wholly appreciated so give it a go!


1. Don’t Blow Your Nose

As we know, blowing your nose in Blighty in completely acceptable, in fact, it’s encouraged. However, this is not the case in Japan! Blowing your nose in Japan is probably seen as the rudest thing you can do. The Japanese are also disgusted by the idea of a handkerchief. The Japanese word hanakuso unpleasantly means `nose waste.’

2. Don’t Forget To Bow

Bowing is the traditional form to greet someone in Japan. Bows can range from a simple nod to a deep bow, although if you’re a visitor, a simple nod should be adequate. The longer a person bows the stronger the emotion and respect being expressed. If the other person maintains his bow for longer than the normal two or three seconds, it is polite to bow again, upon which you may accept another bow in return.

3. Don’t Be Afraid To Slurp!

It’s near impossible to enjoy a bowl of noodles in Japan without making any noise. Slurping shows the chef you’re appreciating the food – so slurp away!

4. Don’t Tip

Leaving gratitude or tipping in Japan is often seen as being rude. Leaving a tip is not part of Japanese culture and some will even see it as an insult.

5. Don’t Talk On Your Phone On A Train

It is seen as rude to speak on your mobile while on a train in Japan. The compromise is that you are sharing the time and space with everyone there, so you are expected to be considerate by not making noise. Many Japanese place their phone in `manner mode’ –which sounds a lot nicer than ‘silent mode’!

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