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What is culturally unacceptable in Japan?


Japan has a rich culture that is admired and respected worldwide. However, as with any country, there are certain things that are considered culturally unacceptable in Japan. These range from social etiquette to business practices, and understanding them is essential for anyone hoping to visit, work or live in Japan.


Social Etiquette

Japan is known for its strict social etiquette, which can sometimes be overwhelming for foreigners. For example, it is considered impolite to eat or drink while walking in public, and blowing your nose in public is seen as rude. Additionally, it is customary to remove your shoes before entering someone’s home or certain buildings such as temples and traditional restaurants.

Japanese Snack Box


In Japan, punctuality is highly valued and being late is considered disrespectful. If you are attending a meeting or an event, it is important to arrive on time or even a few minutes early. This applies not only to professional settings but also to social events such as parties or dinners.

Gestures and Body Language

Gestures and body language can have different meanings depending on the culture. In Japan, it is important to avoid pointing with your finger, as it is considered impolite. Additionally, touching someone’s head or patting them on the back is seen as rude, and eye contact should be avoided when speaking to someone of higher status.


While tattoos have become more popular in Japan in recent years, they are still largely associated with the yakuza (Japanese mafia) and are generally frowned upon. Many public places such as hot springs, public baths, and swimming pools prohibit people with tattoos from entering.

Gift Giving

Gift giving is an important part of Japanese culture, but there are certain rules that should be followed. For example, gifts should be wrapped neatly and given with both hands. Additionally, it is customary to refuse a gift several times before accepting it as a sign of humility.

Business Practices

In Japan, business practices are highly formalized and hierarchical. It is important to show respect to those of higher rank by using honorific titles and bowing when greeting them. Additionally, exchanging business cards (known as meishi) is an essential part of doing business in Japan and should be done with care.

Noise Pollution

Japan is a densely populated country where noise pollution can be a serious problem. It is considered impolite to speak loudly on public transportation or in other quiet places such as libraries or museums. Additionally, many neighborhoods have strict rules regarding noise levels after certain hours.

Manners in the Home

In Japanese homes, there are certain customs that should be observed. For example, it is customary to rinse your body off before getting into the bathtub (known as furo), which is used for relaxation rather than cleaning. Additionally, it is important to keep your living space clean and tidy at all times.

Public Displays of Affection

Public displays of affection such as kissing and hugging are not common in Japan and are generally frowned upon. Holding hands is acceptable but even this can be seen as too intimate in some situations.


In Japan, dressing conservatively is generally the norm. Avoid wearing revealing clothing or anything that could be seen as provocative. Additionally, removing your shoes before entering someone’s home or certain buildings such as temples and traditional restaurants is expected.

Foods Etiquette

In Japan, food etiquette can be complex and varies depending on the type of food you are eating. For example, it is customary to use chopsticks when eating most meals but there are specific rules regarding their use such as not passing food directly from one person’s chopsticks to another’s. Additionally, slurping noodles (known as men) loudly is considered polite and a sign that you are enjoying the meal.


Understanding what is culturally unacceptable in Japan can help visitors navigate their way through Japanese society with ease and avoid accidentally offending anyone. By following these guidelines, you will not only show respect for Japanese culture but also gain a deeper appreciation for its rich traditions.

What is culturally inappropriate in Japan?

In Japan, there are certain social norms that should be followed, such as avoiding prolonged eye contact, as it may be seen as impolite. Expressions of affection, like hugging or shoulder slapping, should also be avoided in public. Additionally, beckoning with the forefinger is considered inappropriate, whereas the Japanese gesture of extending the right arm and waving the fingers is more acceptable.

Is it rude to cross your legs in Japan?

In Japan, crossing your legs in formal or business situations is considered rude because it makes you look like you have an attitude or like you’re self-important. In Japan, sitting with your back straight and your legs together with one hand on each knee is taught from childhood.Sep 22, 2014

What is considered too revealing in Japan?

Wearing revealing clothing is not recommended as it goes against cultural norms and customs, which emphasizes the importance of modest dressing. Clothes such as tank tops, shorts, and mini-skirts should be avoided. It is best to opt for conservative clothing, even if you are not planning to visit temples or shrines. Revealing cleavage is also generally not accepted for women.

What has to be censored in Japan?

The censorship of the internet in Japan mainly targets pornographic content and contentious political material related to Japanese history, particularly the Empire of Japan era. In 2022, a new law was introduced that would require perpetrators to serve up to one year in prison and pay a larger fine for posting online insults.

Are tattoos okay in Japan?

Japan has a longstanding taboo against tattoos, which remain associated with organized crime. Many beaches, hot springs resorts and gyms do not admit people with tattoos. Companies often expressly prohibit applicants who are inked.Apr 23, 2022

Is eye contact rude in Japan?

Japanese culture discourages excessive eye contact as it is seen as disrespectful. Children in Japan are even taught to maintain eye contact with others by looking at their necks instead, so that they can still see the other person’s eyes in their peripheral vision.

Personal Space

Personal space is highly valued in Japan and it is important to respect others’ personal space. Avoid standing too close to someone when speaking to them or reaching across them to grab something. Additionally, it is customary to bow when greeting someone rather than shaking hands or giving hugs.

Drinking Culture

Drinking is an important part of Japanese culture, but there are certain rules that should be followed. For example, it is customary to pour drinks for others rather than pouring your own. Additionally, it is considered impolite to refuse a drink when offered by a superior or someone of higher status.

Honoring the Elderly

In Japan, the elderly are highly respected and honored. It is customary to use honorific titles when speaking to someone who is older or in a position of authority, such as a teacher or boss. Additionally, it is important to give up your seat on public transportation to an elderly person or someone with a disability.


Apologizing is an important part of Japanese culture and taking responsibility for one’s actions is highly valued. If you make a mistake or do something wrong, it is important to apologize sincerely and take steps to correct the situation.

Public Behavior

In Japan, public behavior is highly regulated and certain behaviors are considered inappropriate. For example, talking loudly on public transportation or littering can result in disapproving looks or even verbal reprimands from others. Additionally, smoking in public places such as sidewalks and parks is prohibited in many areas.

Cultural Sensitivity

Cultural sensitivity is important in Japan, especially for foreigners who may not be familiar with the culture. It is important to be respectful of Japanese traditions and customs, and avoid making assumptions or generalizations about the culture. Additionally, learning some basic Japanese phrases can go a long way in showing respect and building relationships with locals.

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