“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Minding your manners is one of the most basic things to remember when travelling, so you don’t offend the residents or worse, break any laws. Equip yourself with the following etiquette tips to make your trip to the Land of the Rising Sun more comfortable and fun!
PLACES OF WORSHIP
Respect sacred places like shrines and temples by not making noise or talking loudly while visiting. Wash your hands and mouth at the purification basin (temizuya or chôzuya) located outside shrines before entering. Remember to take off your shoes too when entering a shrine building.
BE POLITE WHEN ASKING
When asking locals for directions or any other questions, always be polite and do not pressure them. If they don’t understand what you are asking, smile, thank them, and move on to ask someone else. Do not keep asking someone who is unable to understand you. It’s best to ask questions at a koban or police box.
PAYING FOR PURCHASES
When you’re shopping in Japan and are ready to check out, do not simply stand directly in front of the counter. Look for the specific queueing area near the counter (sometimes marked with a picture of footprints) and queue there until a cashier calls you over.
Most tourist spots allow you to take photos, but in certain places like museums, shops and historical buildings, photography might be prohibited. Some places might allow taking pictures but without flash. Before taking any pictures, be sure to look around for any signboards about photography, or ask a staff member to make certain.
DINING AT RESTAURANTS
Most restaurants provide a hot towel (oshibori) or at least a moist towelette for you to clean your hands. Make sure you use it before you eat. Avoid burping inside restaurants as it’s considered impolite. Some restaurants require customers to place their dishes and utensils in a specific place after finishing their meal. If you’re uncertain, you can always observe what other customers do first before doing it yourself.
PAYING AT RESTAURANTS
In many restaurants, you will get the bill when your food is served. This means that when you are ready to leave, you should take the bill to the counter yourself and make your payment there. Tipping is not required in Japan, so instead of leaving a tip, just smile and say, “gochisosama deshita” (thank you for the delicious meal). Some restaurants require customers to buy meal tickets from a vending machine at the entrance. After you buy the ticket, give it to the staff, and they will prepare your meal.
Learn about tourist etiquette in JAPAN WALKER™ Vol 02! Click to purchase at https://shop.gempakstarz.com/magazinetravelguide/japan-walker