As they say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
Unique in its history and traditions, gaining an understanding of Japanese culture and customs can empower you on having a meaningful sojourn. If you are planning your next trip to Japan, we have some pointers that will help you on your journey towards discovering Nihon.
- Cleanliness is Key– The Japanese are extremely hygiene- oriented. Avoid littering in public places and keep your surroundings as tidy as possible. They certainly have a ‘thing’ for cleanliness.
- Loudness is not appreciated– The Japanese are known to be prim and proper in their mannerisms and this goes to speak for their style of expressing as well. Watch the tone and volume of your voice and try not to grab any extra attention to yourself. The extra decibels can totally cut you off from Japanese people’s good books.
- Learn some Japanese before your trip– Although it is always recommended to learn the native language of the destination before visiting it, we consider this a must when you visit Japan. The Japanese do not converse much in English and some signboards lack translation of Japanese words. Consider picking up some important Japanese phrases and words along the way so that you won’t find yourself lost in a new city.
- Tattoos are considered forbidden– Roaming in Japan with a tattooed arm or leg could land you in trouble because of the Yakuza gang; a criminal gang identified by tattoos. Refrain from flaunting those pieces of artwork while on the trip.
- Pay attention to non-smoking zones– The Japanese have separate smoking zones throughout the city, including at restaurants. Keep an eye out for these signs and abstain from smoking in places that do not call for it.
- Leave your shoes outside before entering a new place– Like most Asian countries, the Japanese follow the custom of leaving your footwear outside before entering places of worship, restaurants, and dressing rooms.
- Tipping is unnecessary– In most countries, tipping is considered a gesture of courtesy. This is not quite so in Japan. We recommend offering a bow and giving thanks instead; this is sure to make people smile.
- Getting a JR pass– Getting yourself a Japan-Rail pass can work magic for you. Cash-out $250 in exchange for a 7-day rail pass that allows you to access any rail line in its course. This will make your trip both affordable and accessible. P.S Take the pass only if you are visiting more than one city, or wish to travel outside Tokyo. Also, make sure to not speak on phones while travelling in train.
- Carry enough cash– Most places in Japan work on cash-based systems. Credit cards are generally a no-no, however, if you must carry one, choose Capital One; you can save on the additional transaction and withdrawal fees.
- Explore the underground markets and shopping complexes– Underground stores in Japan lie hidden but have super interesting things to offer. Take a walk down these lanes to find the best products at discounted prices, and a couple of local brands that are sure to captivate. Or you can take the escalators too to explore but make sure to be at left so that the people moving swiftly can easily overtake you.
We hope you are now aware of what to do and what not to while visiting Japan, in case you’d like to know more about this, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.