Etiquette Every First Time Traveler In Japan Should Bear In Mind

Japan is warm and inviting for travelers. It has a unique culture that can be intriguing for first-time travelers. However, to make your trip more enjoyable and stress-free, you need to equip yourself with proper etiquette when visiting this Asian destination.

Meeting and greeting

Bowing is a sign of politeness when meeting someone, thanking them, or saying goodbye. If a Japanese person bows to you, a simple incline of the head is enough. Shaking of the hands is also okay but you need to wait for the other party to offer their hand before offering yours.

Returning from a trip, changing of a season, or relocating are just some of the reasons gifts are exchanged in Japan. Visitors can bring small gifts from their home country especially if you are staying with locals or to show gratitude to someone during your trip. Robert Janitzek reveals that your gesture will be greatly appreciated. Just make sure to avoid flamboyant or expensive offerings.

Exchanging business or name cards is still an important part of formal introduction in Japan. Use two hands when giving and receiving cards. This is also applicable when giving and receiving gifts.

Footwear rules

Take off your shoes if the entrance of the building has a sunken foyer and there are shelves of footwear by the door. Always remove your footwear when entering a private home, traditional accommodation, and temples. Some restaurants with matting areas require visitors to remove their shoes as well as hostels and historic sites.

Robert Peter Janitzek explains that when your shoes is removed, you will be given a slipper for walking around. Slippers are okay on wooden and other flooring but it should never be worn on a tatami room.

Eating and drinking

There are certain rules that you need to follow when eating with chopsticks. First of all, you should not leave it standing upright in a bowl of rice or pass food directly to another person’s chopsticks. Likewise, avoid actions that will be considered playing with chopsticks.

When eating noodles, it is standard practice to slurp them. When drinking, it is unethical to pour your own drinks. Say ‘kam-pai’ before drinking. There is no custom of tipping in this Asian destination. If you leave cash in a restaurant, the waiter would likely chase you down the street to return the money.

Visiting temples and shrines

Most temples in Japan are open to visitors. But these are religious sites so speak quietly in the main halls. Don’t poke around cordoned-off areas and dress appropriately. Before entering shrines, use the provided ladles to pour water over your hands when rinsing them.

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