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How do you politely behave in Japan?


Japan is a country with rich culture and traditions, and it is essential to know how to behave politely when visiting the country. Japanese people are known for their hospitality and politeness, and visitors are expected to show respect for their customs and traditions. In this article, we will discuss some of the essential etiquette rules that one should follow when visiting Japan.

Use Appropriate Greetings

Greetings are an essential part of Japanese culture, and it is essential to use the right greeting depending on the situation. The most common greeting in Japan is “Konnichiwa,” which means hello in English. When meeting someone for the first time, it is polite to bow slightly and introduce yourself.

Japanese Snack Box

Mind Your Body Language

Body language is crucial when communicating with Japanese people. It is essential to avoid standing too close or invading someone’s personal space. Also, avoid making direct eye contact, as this can be seen as intimidating.

Remove Your Shoes

In Japan, it is customary to remove your shoes before entering someone’s home or a temple. Therefore, you should always wear shoes that are easy to remove and put back on. It is also important to note that socks with holes or stains are considered rude, so make sure to wear clean socks.

Respect Social Hierarchy

In Japan, social hierarchy is essential, and it is essential to show respect to those in higher positions. When interacting with someone older or in a higher position than you, it is important to use respectful language and honorifics such as “san” or “sama.”

Learn The Chopstick Rules

Chopsticks are an essential part of Japanese cuisine, and it is important to know how to use them correctly. Avoid sticking chopsticks vertically into your food, as this is reminiscent of incense sticks used at funerals. Also, passing food from chopstick to chopstick or using them to point at something or someone is considered rude.

Avoid Being Late

In Japan, punctuality is important, and being late can be seen as disrespectful. Therefore, it is essential to arrive on time for meetings or appointments. If you are running late, it is polite to call ahead and inform the person you are meeting.

Be Quiet On Public Transportation

Japanese people value silence on public transportation such as trains or buses. Therefore, it is essential to keep your voice down and avoid talking loudly on public transportation. Also, avoid eating or drinking on trains or buses unless it’s explicitly allowed.

Avoid Tipping

Tipping is not customary in Japan and can be seen as insulting. Instead of leaving a tip, show appreciation by saying “arigato” (thank you) or buying a small gift.

Mind Your Gift-Giving Etiquette

Gift-giving is an essential part of Japanese culture, but there are specific rules that one should follow. When giving a gift, wrap it neatly and avoid using white wrapping paper since white symbolizes death in Japan. Also, never give four of anything since “four” sounds like “death” in Japanese.

Know How To Use The Onsen

The Onsen (hot spring) is a popular attraction in Japan, but there are specific rules that one should follow when using them. It is important to wash thoroughly before entering the Onsen since soap and shampoo are not allowed in the water.

Respect The Tea Ceremony

The tea ceremony (Chado) is an integral part of Japanese culture and should be respected when attending one. It is essential to arrive on time and dress appropriately for the occasion. Also, be aware of your body language during the ceremony since every movement has meaning.

Say Goodbye Properly

When leaving someone’s home or office in Japan, it is customary to say goodbye properly. Bow slightly while saying “sayonara” (goodbye) or “mata ne” (see you again). Also, make sure to thank them for their hospitality before leaving.


Politeness and respect for customs play an important role in Japanese society. By following these etiquette rules, visitors can show their appreciation for Japanese culture while earning respect from locals. Remembering these tips will allow visitors to have a more enjoyable experience while exploring all that Japan has to offer.

How should you behave in Japan?

To be respectful in Japan, it is important to try your best, use hand gestures politely, utilize Google Translate, and above all, be kind and patient. It is essential to avoid making locals feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. By demonstrating politeness and respect, you can integrate seamlessly into Japanese society just as the locals do.

What is considered rude behavior in Japan?

In Japan, it is impolite to point at people or objects. Instead, they use a gentle hand wave to indicate what they are referring to. When talking about themselves, Japanese people will touch their nose with their forefinger instead of pointing directly at themselves. This cultural practice has been observed since 2017.

How do you speak politely in Japanese?

Formal speech is characterized by the use of the polite copula “desu” and the polite verb suffix “-masu,” and typically employs complete sentences with minimal contractions. Additionally, honorifics such as “o” and “go” are commonly employed, as previously discussed. You will learn more about these concepts shortly.

How do you show respect in Japan?

In Japanese culture, greetings are typically done through bowing. The depth and length of the bow can vary, with a deeper and longer bow indicating more respect. A small nod of the head is more casual and informal. When greeting someone on a tatami floor, it is customary to get on one’s knees to bow.

What are polite gestures in Japan?

The customary greeting in Japan is a bow, with the depth, length, and style of the bow varying depending on the social situation. Bowing is typically used in situations where a handshake would be used in English-speaking countries.

What is Japanese etiquette behavior?

A crucial aspect of Japanese etiquette is the principle of omotenashi, which means ‘hospitality’. This involves being attentive and considerate towards others, especially guests or customers, by anticipating their needs and adjusting accordingly.

Use Public Trash Bins

Japan is known for its cleanliness, and it is essential to keep public spaces neat and tidy. Therefore, it is important to use public trash bins when throwing away trash. If there are no bins around, carry your trash with you until you find one.

Ask Before Taking Photos

When taking photos of people or private property, it is important to ask for permission first. This is especially true in temples, shrines, or other cultural sites where photography may be restricted or prohibited.

Be Mindful of Tattoos

In Japan, tattoos are still associated with organized crime and may be seen as offensive or intimidating. Therefore, it is important to cover up tattoos in public places such as hot springs, swimming pools, or gyms.

Respect Quiet Hours

In residential areas or hotels, there are usually designated quiet hours during the night. It is important to respect these quiet hours and avoid making loud noises that may disturb others.

Use Correct Toileting Etiquette

In Japan, toilet etiquette is also essential. When using a traditional Japanese toilet, make sure to face the wall rather than the door. Also, avoid flushing toilet paper down the toilet since many older buildings have narrow pipes that can clog easily.

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