15 things not to do in Japan

Different communities have different cultural practices, and so does Japan. Japan is one tourist destination that attracts many people from all corners of the world because of their unique culture. While there, there are also other amazing tourist attraction sites and places to visit including Tokyo and Hiroshima peace memorial museums, Kasuga-Taisha and Meiji shrines.

Like it is stated above, Japanese have unique cultural practices, and those planning to visit Japan should be aware of their dos and don’ts. It is for this reason that this article will highlight 15 top things not to do while there.

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1. Avoid loud conversations in public

In Japan, rarely will you find people conversing in trains and buses and when they do, it is in low tones. Japanese are also discreet and avoid loud phone conversations in public as is considered as a nuisance.

2. No smoking in public places

When you travel to Japan, and you are a smoker, look for designated smoking zones but not smoking in anywhere you feel like.

3. If given a gift, use both hands to receive

If you are on an official visit and you are given a card or a present, use your both hands to receive it and bow a little. Exchanging visiting cards is a common practice, and one is expected to look at the card to show appreciation, but you shouldn’t open to read it in their presence.

4. Take off your shoes in a house

If you pay someone a visit to Japan and find shoes lined up at the door, then you too must remove yours and instead wear slippers provided to you. This also applies to public facilities like schools and shrines and the reason they are removed because they are deemed dirty.

5. Always queue if you are waiting for a service

The culture of queuing in Japan is deeply entrenched such that whether you are waiting for a train or a bus at a bus station or waiting to be served in office etc., you should queue as you wait for your turn to be served.

6. Avoid eating while walking

In Japan, people do not eat while moving except when going for long distance journeys as it is considered bad manners. Even in fast food joints, people drink and eat their food while standing but do not carry it as takeaways and manage wastes; leftovers are thrown in dustbins.

7. Shower first before entering a bathtub

If you visit Japan, you will find that most homes have bathtubs known as ‘furo’. As a standard practice, you can only enter them after showering as they are meant for relaxing. Even in public hot springs or baths applies, the same rule applies. Furthermore, your towel and hair should not touch the bath water. If you have tattoos, don’t bathe there as you will be deemed a gang member.

8. Don’t blow your nose in public

This habit is deemed unfit. If you are sick and have a running nose, you should not blow it in public but in private place like washrooms. The nose should also be covered with a surgical mask, or else people will avoid you.

9. No giving or leaving tips for services rendered

Unlike in other nations where tipping is welcome, the situation is different in Japan as some consider it as an insult. Just avoid it as all fees charged for services are included in bills and only the exact amount billed should be paid. No giving tips.

10. No pointing using fingers or hand

People usually point at something when referring to it but in Japan, this is not the case. Even when asking for directions, people gently wave with their hand to indicate, and when referring to oneself, they touch their nose with the fore-finger but not pointing.

11. Observe chopsticks etiquettes

You may have never used chopsticks, but once you go to Japan, you should learn to use them. For example, never stick or plant sticks in your food as this is done in funeral rituals. If you need to place them down, use the holder provided to you. It is also a taboo to pass meals to another person using your chopsticks. Rubbing them together is also considered rude and should be avoided.

12. No pouring yourself a drink

When having fun things with friends, you can refill their glasses but not yours. Instead, wait for them to do the same. It is also a rule to hold a bottle with both hands while pouring a drink and again, if someone invites you for drinks or meal, they will pay for it so, don’t insist on paying unless you are asked.

13. Bow and say thank you for showing respect and appreciation

For every little thing done to you, show your appreciation by bowing and saying thanks. Even when a waiter serves you food in a hotel or drinks in a club, bow a little.

14. No taking photos

It is fun capturing happy moments with cameras, but in Japan, you must seek permission to do it and especially in shrines, temples, and museums.

15. No throwing waste anywhere

Japanese value their environment much and do everything possible to protect it. Dropping waste anywhere pollutes the environment, and this is against their culture. While there, you buy and eat at as much as can but please, ensure all remains are put in waste-bins.

If you intend to visit there, at least now you have a clue of what to see in Japan when you get there. You are also aware of things to avoid and things to do, as well as how to do them without offending anyone.

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