See These Five Things You Should Never Do In Japan • illuminaija
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See These Five Things You Should Never Do In Japan

See These Five Things You Should Never Do In Japan

In a country with a unique culture like Japan, visitors can feel daunted by the rules and social norms that regulate public life and interpersonal relations. Foreigners visiting Japan are not expected to be familiar with Japanese etiquette, but knowing a few basics will go a long way in helping you adapt to local customs and avoid making cultural gaffes. 

If you’re planning a trip to Japan, here are a few cultural laws you should be aware of.

Never Blow Your Nose In Public

Blowing your nose in public in Japan is considered to be uncouth. Find a bathroom or another private place if you have to attend to a running nose. It’s common to see people wearing face masks in public, especially in the winter. This means they have a cold and want to avoid spreading germs and infecting others.

Never Wear Shoes Indoors

If you’re visiting a Japanese home, your shoes should be immediately removed once you’re through the door. “Outdoor” shoes are considered unclean, and for this reason, they’re replaced with “indoor” slippers at the entranceway. This no-shoe rule also extends to traditional ryokan hotels, some public spaces like temples and shrines, and schools and hospitals. If you see shoes lined up at a doorway or entrance then you can be sure that they must be removed, and usually, slippers will be available for you to slip on.

Shoes are also a no-no in the areas of restaurants where diners sit on the floor on traditional tatami mats. In this case, slippers are not worn at all they could damage the straw matting so make sure your socks match and are free of holes! 

Another important rule is to exchange your “indoor” slippers for the special “toilet” slippers when using the toilet. These are kept at the doorway of the toilet area (which is often separate from the bathroom), especially for this purpose. And don’t forget to once again do the switch when leaving the toilet area!

Never Break a Queue

The Japanese love to line up in orderly single file whether they’re waiting at a bus stop, on a train platform, or even for the elevator! On platforms at train stations, there are lines on the floor indicating where to stand and wait for your train. When the train arrives, the doors will open exactly in-between the two parallel lines that have been formed by waiting commuters. Needless to say, do wait until passengers have left the train before boarding a single file.

Avoid Loud Phone Conversations While on Public Transport

The Japanese tend to use their mobile phones discreetly and will keep telephone discussions brief and as quiet as possible when in public. When travelling on public transit, many people are busy using their phones to text, listen to music, watch videos, or read, but telephone calls are very rare. If you have to use your phone in a public area, move to a quiet place with few people around.

Never Point

See These Five Things You Should Never Do In Japan

Pointing at people or things is considered rude in Japan. Instead of using a finger to point at something, the Japanese use a hand to gently wave at what they would like to indicate. When referring to themselves, people will use their forefinger to touch their nose instead of pointing at themselves. It’s also considered bad manners to use your chopsticks to point at something.

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