10 Japanese Etiquette – Even An American President Cannot Kiss Goodbye In Japan!

Japanese Etiquette
Japanese Etiquette

In what way Japan differs from America? Uniquely, it’s certainly not the punctuality of Shinkansen train, the heavenly tempting delicacies of Japanese cuisine, or the Japanese people’s hospitality.

Yes. The code of Japanese etiquette rules the way people behave socially in Japan and considered important.

Moreover, like other social cultures, etiquette changes vastly based on a person’s position relative to the individual in question.

However, some old Japanese customs have been altered during the course of time. Let’s resist and learn 10 Japanese etiquettes that westerners tend to misunderstand.

In The Article


How Low Will You Go - The Art Of Japanese Bowing

Firstly, the unmistakable art of Japanese bowing looks really fascinating and kids learn them as early in school.

The Japanese bow no matter whoever you are out of respect and you will catch it everywhere you travel.

Literally, there are different types of Japanese bowing postures. Some of the different variants are

  1. “Eshaku” or the bow of greeting – This 15-degree bow mostly reserved for people with same social status or business rank.
  2. “Keirei” or the bow of respect – The 30-degree bow is usually offered to a boss or a teacher in school.
  3. Saikeirei or Emperor bow – The minute you see the emperor or when you apologize for something wrongful, you do this 45-degree
  4. Life-Saving bow – People perform this bow when their life is under threat and have nowhere else to run.


Avoid Swimsuits In Onsens - Go Bare Instead!

Not to mention, many Japanese feel it downright odd to see you wear a bikini or swimsuit in hot springs. So, you better enter onsens bare or naked.

Moreover, bathers should rinse and scrub before entering the water at a public space.  The Japanese are ready to allow water sharing and so you actually clean before entering the spring.

Particularly, tattoos are not allowed in public spaces as they are often linked with the Japanese mafia, the Yakuza.


Why Japanese Love Burping And Slurping While Americans Don’t?

Strangely, unlike Westerners, slurping does not mean impoliteness in Japan. The reason why Japanese slurp their foods are

  • Deliciousness and slurping are interlinked because the taste is connected to the crazy sound of slurping. Furthermore, slurping makes the food even tastier than originally prepared.
  • The aura of the soup and noodles enhances while slurping.
  • Japanese soupy noodles are served piping hot and slurping reduces the temperature of the food to consumable limits.
  • Forget wasting food as Japanese eat every morsel of rice without spilling. When you receive food, greet the gathering by saying “Itadakimasu” or “I happily receive.”
  • In Japan, you should avoid refilling your glass before filling your companion’s glass.
  • Avoid drinking or eating on the move and avoid mixing white rice and soy sauce.

Chopstick Etiquettes

  • You should stop rubbing your chopsticks while eating in Japan.
  • Again, you must avoid standing your chopsticks in your bowl vertically.
  • While passing from a common plate, you should use the wrong side of your chopstick.
  • Never pass food using chopsticks in Japan.


No Germ Passing Please !!!

Once again, the Japanese love being modest. In Japan, they consider it offensive to lock eye to eye contact and touching others, no way.

In other words, Japanese people like to respect each other’s personal space and they maintain a healthy gap. Moreover, leave more space in case both were to bow exactly together.

Remember, unlike Americans, Japanese citizens avoid passing germs- no cheek kisses or handshakes.


Hey You! Leave your Stinking Slippers Outside

It’s mandatory that you remove your footwear before entering a place of residence. Wearing slippers or shoes inside residences remains a taboo.

However, the Japanese usually provide their guests with slippers and it’s very much unlikely that they will walk barefoot.

Important Suggestion

Some public spaces, restaurants, or hotels also mandate the removal of footwear. Notable, if you see Japanese woven bamboo mats or Tatami, you have to remove your footwear.


How To Exchange Cards In Japan?

Some of the simple yet must-know tips about exchanging business cards in Japan are

  • You ensure that you hold your business card showing the front side to your partner.
  • Importantly, you offer your business card with both hands.
  • In case, the partner standing opposite ranks higher than you socially, you better hold your card below your partner’s.
  • Then, if you receive a business card, immediately place it in a cardholder and then take a look at it.
  • Significantly, you should never forget to bow.
  • Moreover, if you don’t carry a cardholder, you are a looked upon strangely.


Stop Calling The Reproductive Organ Using Its Name

Particularly, calling out the name of the female reproductive organ is a definite serious no-no in Japan.

Therefore, a Japanese citizen will refer the secret parts as “Asoko” which literally translates as “there”. Average Japanese easily understands this kind of a reference.


Nose Blowing In The Public - Japanese Will Hate You

Funnily, take public transport in Japan in the winter season and you will witness countless nose-sniffling sitcoms.

However, Japanese people avoid blowing their nose in public. In general, sniffling looks normal and snorting goes unseen.

Therefore, if you cannot avoid blowing your nose, you should do it as discreetly as possible. Furthermore,  the Japanese seldom use handkerchiefs.


Find Your Silence (Train Travel)

In trains, people mostly avoid conversations and they live as per the proverb “Silence is Golden”. But, you can play games on the mobile, send text-messages, sleep, and apply contour -but only quietly.

One more thing, do not ever drink or eat on the subway. In conclusion, there is a seat specially marked for pregnant women, disabled, and elderly and Japanese follow this rule strictly.

In addition, the government hires pushers or ‘Oshiya’ to accommodate as many people as possible during peak hours.


Japanese Alias Punctuality

Being “fashionably late” may sound cool in America but certainly not in Japan. For this reason, if you make an appointment at a specified time, you have to reach that place within the stipulated time.

Also, in places called ‘ryokan’(traditional Japanese Inns) turning up late for meals looks insulting to the host.  But mostly, they will not express their disappointment directly.

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