10 Japanese Culture Faux Pas

Updated: Jun 26, 2019

Every country has its own culture and norms.  What might be considered good in one country might be considered bad in others. Following the etiquettes and culture will not only make the host happy but will also make you feel welcomed.

Japan is a terrific place to visit. But understanding the Japanese rulebook of etiquette might be a daunting process for foreign visitors. Fret not; we have listed all the Japanese culture faux pas that you should never commit on your visit to Japan.

1) Never wear shoes indoors.

In most parts of the world, wearing shoes indoors is a normal thing. But in Japanese culture it is a bit different. Outside shoes are considered unclean and have to be removed if you are entering someone’s house, ryoken hotels, some public spaces like temples and shrines, and schools and hospitals. You will be provided some slippers which are only used indoors.

2) No Tipping

Unlike other parts of the world tipping isn’t a part of Japanese culture. Services are included in the bill itself, so it is considered an insult to leave a tip.

3) Avoid eating while walking

In fact you should avoid drinking and smoking too. It is considered as a sloppy behavior. People usually eat and drink while standing and then throw the cans in nearby dustbin. Also it avoids any mess that can be created while travelling.

4) The chopstick etiquette

Japanese people take their cutlery etiquette very seriously. If you are using chopsticks then you should never stick them upright in the bowl of rice. Instead when you are done using them you should keep them in the chopstick holders. Also never transfer food from your chopstick to another chopstick. That is considered a bad omen too.

5) Pointing at people

Pointing is considered a rude gesture in Japanese culture. If you want to point at something then use your whole hand instead. Also when you want to point towards yourself then use your forefinger to touch your nose.

6) Never say NO

Saying ‘NO’ is considered the heights of bad manners. It signifies that you are very rude and manner less. Instead of saying ‘NO’ outright you can use ‘possibly’ or ‘probably’ to convey ‘NO’ in a polite manner.

7) Mishandling Business Cards.

Japanese people consider their work as an extension of themselves. For them business cards aren’t just ways of sharing contact details, but are considered a way of forming bonds. If you crumble the business card, put it in the back pocket or just throw it into a bag then it is equivalent to insulting the person.

8) Don’t blow your nose

Blowing your nose in a public place is simply considered disgusting according to Japanese culture. If you want to blow your nose then find a nearby washroom. You can also wear a mask so as to avoid your germs from spreading.

9) Conversing Loudly on Phone

Japanese people in general are very quiet and peaceful people. They talk politely and talking loudly, especially on public transport is looked down upon. If you want to attend a call then find a corner and talk slowly and softly.

10) Not washing before using a public washroom.

Japanese people have a rectangle shaped soaking bathtub that they use for relaxing. Before you use that you have to take a shower to thoroughly clean yourself and people who don’t do this are considered unhygienic and dirty.

If you follow these tips then surely your trip to Japan will be most memorable. It wouldn't upset the people there and will allow you to be in the good books of them

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