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What is disrespectful in Japan?


Japan is a country steeped in tradition and customs. As a foreigner, it can be challenging to navigate the social norms and avoid causing offense. In this article, we will explore some of the behaviors that are considered disrespectful in Japan.

Not Removing Shoes

In Japan, it is customary to remove shoes before entering a home or certain public buildings. Failing to do so is seen as rude and disrespectful. This tradition stems from the Japanese custom of keeping homes and public spaces clean.

Japanese Snack Box

Forgetting to Bow

Bowing is an important gesture in Japanese culture, and it is used to show respect and gratitude. Forgetting to bow, especially when meeting someone for the first time, can be seen as a sign of disrespect.

Being Too Loud

Japanese culture values politeness and quietness. Being too loud in public spaces, especially on public transportation, is considered rude and disruptive.

Pointing With Your Finger

In Japan, pointing with your finger is seen as impolite. Instead, people use their entire hand to indicate direction or objects.

Not Covering Your Mouth When You Cough or Sneeze

Covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze is not only good manners but also a way to prevent the spread of germs. Failing to do so can be seen as disrespectful and inconsiderate.

Not Separating Your Garbage

Japan has strict rules about garbage separation and disposal. Failing to follow these rules can result in fines or even being reprimanded by your neighbors.

Blowing Your Nose in Public

Blowing your nose in public is considered taboo in Japan. It is seen as impolite and disgusting.

Not Using Honorifics

In Japanese language, honorifics are used to show respect when speaking to someone of higher status or age. Failing to use honorifics can be seen as impolite and disrespectful.

Using Chopsticks Improperly

Using chopsticks improperly, such as pointing them at someone or sticking them upright in a bowl of rice, is considered rude in Japan. It is important to learn proper chopstick etiquette before dining in Japan.

Not Waiting Your Turn

Japanese culture values patience and waiting your turn. Cutting in line or interrupting someone who is speaking is considered disrespectful and impolite.


In conclusion, Japan has a unique set of customs and traditions that should be respected by visitors. By learning about the behaviors that are considered disrespectful, we can avoid causing offense and show our appreciation for Japanese culture.

Is it rude to cross your legs in Japan?

In Japan, it is impolite to cross your legs during formal or business occasions as it can be interpreted as a sign of arrogance or overconfidence. From a young age, Japanese children are taught to sit with a straight back and their legs together, placing one hand on each knee.

Is yawning rude in Japan?

Unacceptable social conduct in Japan includes blowing your nose in a restroom if you have a cold or blocked sinuses. Additionally, loud yawning and chewing gum in public are also seen as impolite.

What is inappropriate to wear in Japan?

To uphold cultural traditions and expectations, it is necessary to dress modestly. This means avoiding clothing like tank tops, shorts, and mini-skirts, and opting for more conservative attire even if you don’t plan on visiting religious sites. Additionally, it is considered inappropriate for women to show cleavage.

Why is eye contact rude in Japan?

In Japanese culture, it is discouraged to make too much eye contact with others as it can be seen as disrespectful. Instead, people are taught to look at the neck of the person they are speaking with so that they can still see their eyes in the periphery. This practice is taught to children in Japan.

Are tattoos okay in Japan?

Tattoos are not prohibited in Japan and are even seen as a fashion statement by some, particularly in Tokyo. However, it is common for people with tattoos in Japan to conceal them under clothing.

What is the drinking age in Japan?

In Japan, individuals are considered legal adults once they reach the age of 20, and it is against the law for anyone under this age to consume alcohol or tobacco products. It is important to note that pressuring others, regardless of their age, to consume these substances can lead to negative health and societal effects.

Wearing Revealing Clothing

In Japan, modesty is highly valued, and wearing revealing clothing can be seen as disrespectful. It is important to dress appropriately, especially when visiting temples, shrines, or other sacred places.

Not Offering a Gift or Souvenir

Bringing a small gift or souvenir when visiting someone’s home or workplace is a common practice in Japan. Failing to do so can be seen as impolite and disrespectful.

Using Your Phone in Certain Places

Using your phone in certain places, such as on public transportation or in a movie theater, is considered impolite and disruptive. It is important to be mindful of your surroundings and follow the rules and customs of the specific place.

Not Covering Tattoos

Tattoos are still associated with the Japanese mafia or “yakuza,” and therefore, some public places, such as hot springs or public pools, may have rules against visible tattoos. It is important to cover up tattoos in these situations out of respect for Japanese culture.

Not Saying “Sumimasen”

“Sumimasen” is a Japanese word that means “excuse me” or “sorry.” It is important to use this phrase when asking for help or when you have inconvenienced someone. Failing to do so can be seen as impolite and disrespectful.

Not Offering a Bow When Leaving

When leaving someone’s home or workplace, it is customary to offer a final bow as a sign of respect and gratitude. Failing to do so can be seen as impolite and disrespectful.


Overall, showing respect and understanding towards Japanese customs and traditions is crucial when visiting Japan. By being aware of these behaviors that are considered disrespectful and avoiding them, we can show appreciation for Japanese culture and create positive interactions with locals.

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