If you are a manga or anime lover, I won’t blame you for desperately wanting to travel to Japan. However, there are certain things that you need to know before you visit the Land of the Rising Sun!
#1. Dining Etiquette
If you are a manga or anime-lover, then you must have definitely noticed how Japanese always say itadakimasu before starting a meal. This means that they are conveying their appreciation for the food. At the end, it is also polite to say to the person who prepared the meal: gochaso sama deshita, which means that, “it was a real feast.”
And, I don’t think I need to tell you that during a toast, the common cry in Japan is kanpai, which means “bottoms up.”
#2. It Isn’t Easy to Find Vegetables
If you are a vegetarian and are considering a trip to Japan, then my dear friend, I sympathize with you as it will be very difficult to find eateries. The last time we went to Japan, we tried to find some veggies but we found mostly cabbage, spinach and mizuna. And, of course, it was not for me (as I am a great meat-eater) but rather for my spouse, who is, unfortunately, a vegan.
#3. Do Not Point at People or Things in Japan
If you have a habit of pointing at people or things, then better change this habit if you plan to visit Japan as this is considered rude and impolite.
#4. You Will Be Thanked a Lot of Times
If you want to feel like royalty, there is no better place than Japan as wherever you go, on the way out, you will always hear arigatou gozaimaisu.
#5. Queuing Is a Part of Life in Japan
If you don’t like to stand in long queues, then better get used to it as in Japan, you will queue for a ramen joint, to purchase train tickets, to board the subway and even for vending machines.
#6. Don’t Ever Take the Subway During Peak Rush Hour
Ever seen a tin of sardines? Travelling on the subway during rush hour in Japan will give you an up-close and personal experience of what it’s like to be a sardine. And, believe me, it’s not something you’ll want to go through again!
I still remember when I took the sardine can, I mean subway, I could smell the strong stench of people’s body odor and coffee breath.
#7. Do Not Wear Your Backpack on Your Back in the Subway
I am not telling you to wear your backpacks on your backs because you will be robbed or pick pocketed but rather because it is a sort of courtesy in Japan due to the lack of space. As per the etiquette, you should either wear it on your front side or hold it by your side or in between your legs.
#8. No Public Display of Affection
Now, if you are unlucky as me to travel to such a beautiful country with your spouse (who unfortunately happens to be a vegan on top of that), you will need to tone down the PDA (public display of affection). For instance, you may see couples holding hands but not kissing or even hugging in public. But, if you ask me, I think that’s the reason why Japan’s population is decreasing. Anyway, that’s a whole other topic…
#9. What About Bowing?
Bowing can be quite difficult for many people and Japanese people understand this. As a result, a simple arigatou gozaimaisu or a slight tilt of the head will be enough.
But, always remember that at a shrine, it is compulsory to bow.
#10. No Outdoor Shoes Indoors
In many places in Japan, it is considered rude to wear your outdoor shoes in indoor areas. So, you will need to get used to changing into slippers at the entrance of all homes and some restaurants (don’t worry, the slippers will be provided to you).
#11. Don’t Blow Your Nose in Public
It may sound a bit extreme but unfortunately, it is considered bad etiquette if you blow your nose in public in Japan.
#12. No Tattoos
Even though tattoos are seen as pretty cool, I would suggest you to cover your tattoos in Japan, especially when you are visiting Japanese bathhouses. Why? Due to the Yakuza, Japan’s version of the Mafia, tattoos are associated with organized crime.
Will you follow these tips? Please share your comments!