Etiquette – Japan

Happy Thursday!

I am so excited to bring you today’s etiquette post on Japan.

This is a two part series because Japan has several manners of etiquette that should be noted, and I like to keep blog post short and sweet. 😍

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Yes, I am adding Japanese business etiquette for your reading pleasure. 😜

1. Digging Chopsticks

Photo credit: Japan Talk

When retrieving food from common dishes, take the item closest to you on the top. Digging in a common dish for the best piece is frowned upon.

2. Gochisosama Deshita

Definetely use Google Translate with the sound voice on to say Gochisosama Deshita properly. Gochisosama Deshita can be literally translated “it was a feast.” It’s used to thank someone for preparing a meal or for paying the bill at a restaurant. It’s also used to complement good service as you leave a restaurant (if you paid the bill yourself). Yet another use of the phase is to request the check at the end of your meal. In all circumstances it’s a polite phase that’s sure to impress.

3. Tipping

There is no custom of tipping servers at restaurants or taxi drivers. Tipping can be considered insulting or at least confusing.

4. Eating Nigiri Sushi

Nigiri sushi should be dipped upside down so that only the fish touches the sauce. Otherwise, the rice falls into the sauce and looks sloppy. This can be a bit tricky with chopsticks but using your hands is an option.

5. Fashion/dressing

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Japanese cultural activities such as theatre and tea ceremony tend to require formal wear. These rules are often unwritten but expected. Beyond that, people dress formally at restaurants and for the office. It’s very easy to feel underdressed in the Tokyo sea of black suits, and ladies in nice conservative outfits with the exception of Harajuku area.

6. Walking and Smoking

Walking and smoking is viewed as a dangerous and inconsiderate for a variety of reasons with the biggest being the idea that you could accidentally burn someone on a crowded street, and the streets are crowded. The Japanese take this quite seriously and it’s now illegal to walk and smoke in some areas. This is actively enforced. Designated outdoor smoking areas are quite common in Japan.

7. Taxi doors

Most taxi doors in Japan are automatic, do not attempt to open the taxi doors yourself as the drivers get annoyed.

8. Lazy Bows

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The Japanese have a number of different styles of bow that apply to different social situations. A lazy bow, or if you are tired can be insulting. A formal bow is usually to 45 degrees. As a tourist there is no need to bow. The bows are used for business introductions.

9. Blowing your nose

Do not blow your nose in public, or worst in a meeting. Excuse yourself and go to the nearest bathroom. The sniffles are ok.

10. Backpacks on trains

Photo credit: Louis Vuitton Spring 2020 

It is rude to not hold your backpack on the train. This is such a good rule as I literally get beat up on subways by passengers with their huge back packs. Also, there are millions of people on the train, so it makes things run more smoothly.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s part 2!

Sending zen vibes! 💋

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  1. Joy

    This is such an interesting post! can’t wait to read part 2 and thanks for sharing, I’ll definitely keep all of these in mind when I go to Japan (if I go) but in general, it’s nice to be aware of other cultures’ etiquette!

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