Japan. There is so much beauty that can be found here in the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’. From its pop culture to its amazing dishes (some of which were inspired by other countries) Japan has so much to offer to tourists of various ethnic backgrounds. If you’ve never had the the pleasure of visiting this wonderful place, save up your money (or go in with a friend) and make that incredible journey.
Although there’s a lot to do in Japan; such as visit places like Tokyo and Shibuya, there are some things that foreigners (like ourselves) should not do, or even avoid doing all together. Some of the most common things that we do in the west might be deemed offensive in Japan due to our cultural differences, laws, and way of life. So to help you out we’re gonna give you our top five things that you should never do while visiting Japan. (Though there are many others.)
#1 – Don’t wear shoes in the House
Our mothers and fathers would argue that this should be a rule in everybody’s household, not just in Japan. (Especially if you’ve just shampooed the carpets.) This is a hygienically good reason why Japanese people don’t want to track any dirt or mud into their homes. Before entering the house the shoes are placed on a genkan, as guest slippers may be provided for you upon entering into the house. You’re not allowed to wear slippers in the tatami room, so make sure you have some good clean socks on before entering, and also make sure that you don’t have foot odor. Yuck! >.<
#2 – Don’t Walk/Drive on the Right Side of the Street
On the west side of town (America) we’re used to driving on the right side of the street; where the cars on the left would travel northbound, and the cars on the right would travel southbound (or something to that effect). In Japan however it’s the other way around, so that means that you have to drive on the left side of the street and not the right. Driving on the right side may result in a crash, fine, death, or time in jail, so make sure to take that into consideration before driving out on the roads of Japan. Don’t be surprised if you happen to run into characters from a certain racing game series from a well-known franchise. 😉
#3 – Don’t Talk, Text, or Smoke on Japanese Public Transport
This one’s a bit of a doozy for many (if not all) of us, because we do this on a regular basis everyday while riding public transport. In Japan it’s impolite to talk and text on the bus because its serves as a distraction to the other passengers. This may be a deal-breaker for some of us who would like to visit Japan in the near future, but you have to remember, rules and regulations over there are different than in North America. You can however ask for help in case of an emergency.
#4 – Don’t forget to say “Thank You” and Bow in Respect
Whenever your waiter/waitress serves you your meal, or if you happen to meet a Japanese elder, make sure that you bow and say “thank you”. (If you do it in Japanese it might score you a few brownie points.) It shows them that you’re a respectful and gracious individual, and that you know how to express your gratitude. Don’t forget to also bow whenever you make a mistake too.
And #5 – Don’t Be Shy
Never be afraid to ask questions if you don’t know what to do while visiting Japan. The Japanese are very friendly and polite, and will not hesitate to help you if you’re unsure about something. If you forget something or leave something of value in a public place; such as in a bus, a public park, or any other various places, it will be right where you left (forgot) it and you won’t have to worry about it being stolen.
There are a lot of other things that you should also avoid doing while visiting Japan, but these five are the ones that we wanted to share with you. Japan is a beautiful place and has so much to offer in terms of cuisine, pop culture, fashion, and entertainment. It is also a country where the locals are reserved, friendly, and polite. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we can give back the same respect and gratitude that they have shown us as tourists and travelers? Education is one of the most important fundamentals of everyday life, and if we take the time to learn the standard etiquette of the many countries we visit (like Japan), we’ll always feel welcome no matter how far we travel.