13 TABOOS – Thing NOT to do in JAPAN

Japan has such a unique culture and habit. Sometimes people would be surprised with them. There are 13 things you should not do in Japan otherwise you would irritate Japanese people or they would think you are rude. Real Japanese will tell you 13 taboos in Japan, please check them before you visit!

When you visit Japan, Maybe you will often see people wait for their turn in line.
For example, when you are waiting for train on station platforms, at convenience stores, in front of restaurant, at even restrooms, and so on.

Almost no one ignore the queuing system, because they wanna make sure “first person in the line can use or receive the service first.”

So please make sure you don’t cut the lines. Otherwise people would get mad at you!
Of course there are some exceptions, so you should check if there is line or not when it’s crowded.

In Japan, making a noise, for example, talk loudly on a train and bus is really hated by people.
Of course, we talk on the train and bus, but we’re being careful and talk in a bit small voice.
It doesn’t have to be too small, but try not to bother people.

Also, you shouldn’t talk on the phone on the train and bus.
If I were to answer the phone on train, people would stare at me.

In case of emergency (like you really need to answer the phone), u can do that.
But you’d better get off the phone as soon as possible by saying “I’ll call you back!” or something.

In this way, almost everyone is trying to keep the quiet space on the public transportation in Japan.
So, Let’s try not to bother people with unnecessary noise.

Maybe this is widely known Japanese custom.
Don’t wear shoes indoors when visiting Japanese home.

When you enter Japanese home, you need to take off your shoes at the entranceway.
“Outdoor shoes” make the room dirty, so they should be replaced with “indoor” slippers.
Some people don’t put on slippers though.

Other than at home,
You need to take off your shoes when you enter ryokan, (Japanese-style hotel) too.
Usually the staff at ryokan guide you when you arrive, so should be easier to follow this custom there.

Not very often, but sometimes you need to do this at restaurant too.
For example, when you use restaurant room floored with tatami mats, your shoes have to be removed before sitting. So please be careful about that. If you’re not sure, maybe it’s better to ask staff.

By the way, if you are staying at hotel not Japanese-style one, you don’t have to do that.

Japan has laws prohibiting littering just like other countries.
Although the law has not super severe punishment, it’s widely known that the city in Japan is very clean.

I would say, it’s because littering is recognized as very rude behavior among Japanese.

People are looking for trash can whenever they have trash, and dispose of garbage in the cans.
So don’t litter in Japan, please put your garbage in the trash can.

Even though there are more and more trash cans are set up in Japan these days, sometimes you may get trouble finding trash can on the street.

If you can’t find them, please bring the garbage to your home or hotel you stay.
You might feel annoying, but please avoid littering in Japan.

Walking while eating in crowded place is also recognized as rude behavior in Japan.
It depends on the place you do, but usually you better not do that in crowded place.

Because you might trouble someone by putting stain on their shirt or something.

So it’s better to stop and eat. In that way, you don’t bother other people.

By the way, have you known that drinking on the street is legal in Japan.
That’s so nice right? So if you love drinking, please try this in Japan. It’s so much fun!

But again, you better not to drink and walk in crowded place.
I recommend to enjoy your drink at some park or drink while taking a walk along the river in Japan.
It’s very comfortable especially when it’s warm season.

Again, please don’t forget to take your trash home or put it in the trash can after enjoy eating and drinking.

One more thing, You shouldn’t eat on the train either. The reason is the same as mentioned previously.
Also some people hate the smell of foods on the train because it could be too strong.

But you can eat in Shinkansen, bullet train. The Shinkansen seat has table, so you can pull down and use that after sitting. You can enjoy your lunch box, ekiben and drinking very comfortable.

Most of the travelers to Japan are not like this, but sometimes there are noisy drunk tourists.
For example, I’ve seen this situation… “a group of tourists on the street who came to Japan for watching sports competition, they were so excited after the competition and very drunk. They were having party outside, singing songs loudly, and so on.
Obviously this behavior is disturbing to the residents of neighborhood.

This kind of situation is not common thing in Japan at all, I mean “noisy drunk people having party outside” except the Halloween day in Shibuya, Tokyo.
(Halloween in Shibuya is just crazy, I don’t even go outside on that day.)

People like to live quiet space and don’t want to be rude in Japan.

That’s way, drunk people having a crazy party outside are recognized as super crazy people,
and really hated by Japanese.

So please drink responsibly in Japan. Enjoy drinking but Don’t bother people!

I’ve seen that “Don’t blow your nose in public.” in English website.
But I don’t think it’s really taboo in Japan.
As long as you use tissue or don’t make someone uncomfortable, it’s totally fine.

Japanese people would hate to see someone sneeze or cough without wearing mask rather than blowing nose.
In Japan, people often think it’s rude that even though you caught a cold, you don’t wear face mask.

In some other countries, perhaps wearing mask is rare thing to do, but not in Japan.
It’s common thing to do that in order to avoid giving anyone cold.
Sometimes there is different reason.
A lot of Japanese woman wear face mask to hide their natural faces without make up.

Anyway, it’s highly recommended to wear mask especially when you have a cold in Japan.

If you don’t have cold, but wanna sneeze or cough, please cover your mouth with your hand or your clothes.

In Tokyo, people stand on the left side when they get on the escalator, and leave the right side open.
So that those in a hurry can pass.

So please don’t stand right side of the escalator, but stand left side. In that way you will not block the way for busy people.

It is custom in almost everywhere in Japan, but in the Kansai region, it’s opposite.
In Kansai area, you need to stand right side, and leave the left side open.
Kansai region means, Osaka prefecture, Kyoto prefecture, Nara prefecture, Hyogo prefecture those places.

Please be careful about this difference.
It’s little bit confusing.. right? But if you don’t know,,, you can just look around like “which side people are standing on the escalator” then decide!

Very crowded escalator is common thing in big city like Tokyo, so please make sure you know this custom before you go!

It’s sometimes happen that people are engaged in looking around the view or talking to friends while walking on the street when you travel.

At such time, please pay attention to this!

Don’t walk side by side, and
Don’t block the sidewalk.

Even though the place is not so busy, walking side by side at narrow street is not good thing in Japan.
As long as they block the way, other people would be feeling irritated.

Some behavior blocking somebody’s way would be hated by people in Japan. So please be careful!

I would say wearing perfume or cologne is not very popular thing among Japanese compared to other countries.
That’s why you can notice immediately if somebody is wearing so much perfume on street.

So perhaps normal amount of perfume for people from other countries is not always the same for Japanese, maybe it’s too much in Japan.

Especially when you are going to Japanese restaurant, you should be careful about this.
People could be disgusted while eating, if a person next to them is wearing too much perfume.

Since some Japanese traditional dishes have subtle flavor, too much perfume easily have bad influence on those dishes.
Please put that in your mind.

There are so many shrines and temples in Japan.
I would say almost every tourist coming to japan visit at least one of those.

Some travelers might be anxious about the manners when they visit shrines and temples.
But don’t worry, I teach you the simplest manner there.

Worship at shrine or temple with your hat on.

Please make sure to take off your cap or hat before you worship.

There are some other manners for shrines and temples, but please remember this minimum required thing.

Are you planning to go to Onsen, hot spring in Japan?

If you go there, make sure you wash your body before getting into the bathtub.
In Japan, we’re supposed to wash ourselves outside the bathtub.

Also, please do not dip your washcloth in the communal bath.
Japanese often fold the washcloth and put it on their head, or just put it on the edge of the bathtub.

By doing those things, we try to keep the bathtub clean as much as we can.
So please keep that in your mind too.

Unlike younger people, Old people in Japan still tend to feel “having a tattoo is kind of scary”.

It’s because those people feel “tattoo is associated with Yakuza, Japanese mafia”.
Actually, some Yakuza has one.

But most of Japanese people don’t have one, and older people might be surprised when they see people with tattoo.

Also, you will see warning notice which refuses people with tattoo at a lot of Japanese onsen facilities.
So if you have tattoo and want to visit hot spring, public pool, and beach those places in Japan, please check if tattoo is allowed or not before you go.
I’ve heard there are some tattoo friendly facilities in Japan, so I recommend to check them online or something.

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