With its splendid mountainous backdrops, vivid settings, mystifying cultural heritage and delectable cuisines, the Land of the Rising Sun, an archipelago of over 6,852 islands, sure is a stunning and remarkable country to behold and experience. It is no wonder that many foreign nationals choose to migrate to Japan.
Contrary to popular belief, Japan is not that closed off to foreigners. In fact, after centuries of isolation, it is now more than 150 years since the country opened its ports to other countries. They are even more welcoming towards people with good academic backgrounds, IT professionals, and people with business expertise.
For those who plan to live in Japan, it is imperative that you know its culture and tradition etiquettes so as not to experience culture shock when you land there.
Here are 6 important things to remember when in Japan:
- One important Japanese tradition to remember is to take off your shoes before entering other people’s houses. This is not to say that it is something you would have to do before entering every house. When you see a mat next to their front door, which is when you need to take off your shoes before entering.
- In Japan, great importance is given to loyalty, politeness & sense of responsibility. Importance is given to “You” than “I” and everyone works together for the good of the larger group. Education, ambition, hard work, patience and determination are held in the highest regard and taught to children from childhood.Handshake is an appropriate gesture, when you meet someone in Japan. The Japanese handshake is limp and with little or no eye contact.Bowing is not just a greeting but a sign of respect given to the person you are bowing to. The longer the bow, the more respect is given. A small nod with the head is casual. One bows to another to show gratitude, make an apology and ask a request or a favor. People greet each other even in their homes, offices and outdoors as a sign of respect.
- Did you know that the positions of the chopsticks used actually have meanings? Well, they do. When you rest your chopstick in your bowl or plate while you are not eating, it is considered a bad omen as it is done during a funeral ceremony in Japan. Sharing the same chopsticks is also considered a taboo. So, if you want to share food, just use your chopstick to put your food on someone’s plate.
- When in a group outing, it is polite to pour water, tea, or sake for everyone at the table rather than pouring just for yourself.
- While most countries don’t appreciate it when someone slurps their food like noodles or soup, in Japan, it is actually encouraged. Slurping shows that you are enjoying the food which further compliments the chef or cook.
- Littering is taken very seriously in Japan. In fact, spitting can land you in jail or you could be fined 10,000 Yen. Owing to its title as one of the greenest and cleanest in the world, the streets in Japan are spotless. People usually carry their waste packages home with them. There are only a few public garbage bins in Japan. Waste sorting and recycling are being practiced religiously.
While there are many other etiquettes to follow, the above-mentioned Japanese decorum is on top of the list. Do make sure you follow them when you are in Japan.
We bid you adieu and good luck!
Sayōnara for now.