Japanese Manners For Tourists: Avoid Being “That Tourist” in Japan

Japanese Manners For Tourists: Avoid Being “That Tourist” in Japan


Learn your Japanese manners before coming to Japan to avoid being “that foreigner”. Culture, rules, norms, and manners are different in every country and Japan is well known for being up there on the well-mannered list.

Other than the basics such as ‘don’t be obnoxious’ and ‘don’t be loud’, here are a few other things that you should probably know if you want to have a good time and be loved by locals.


5 Things You Should Do In Japan

👍🔆 1. Do hold the elevator for other people

When you happen to stand close to the buttons inside the elevator, do the honor of being in charge of pressing the opening and closing buttons.

One day when I got back to the entrance of my apartment, I walked over to check my mailbox instead of heading straight to the elevator. Because I was checking my mailbox, the person who was already in the elevator did not wait for me. After I was done, I walked towards the elevator calculating how long I’ll have to wait for the elevator to arrive after I press the up button. BUT…To my surprise, the elevator was already there with open doors, waiting for me. The person before me pressed the first floor for me before they got off on their floor!! I was so amazed by the level of this thoughtfulness that I was shocked all the way back to my room!!

🆗🚮 2. Do separate trash

The trash separating system in Japan is pretty straightforward and simple. There are usually four types of trash to be separated into. These four types include, burnable trash, plastic or recyclable trash, PET bottles, and Cans & Bottles. When traveling to Japan, you’ll probably notice that finding trash cans can be quite the hunt. It is common to carry your trash with you until you can find one. 🗑️

🙆‍♀️🚇 3. Do practice good public transportation manners

Learn more about Japanese train manners here!

Japanese Train Manners: What Japanese People Want You To Know

👌🍜 4. Do finish your food

Wasting food and playing with food is bad in any part of the world. Food should be treated with appreciation and respect no matter where you are. But in Japan, it is particularly seen as rude and also bad manners. You will not see food fights or any form of food play. Do not order more than you can eat. If you tried your best but really can’t finish, apologize to show that you’re sorry.

✅⏱️ 5. Do be on time

And by on time, I mean at least 5-10 minutes early. If you make a reservation or an appointment, make sure you’re there a bit ahead of time. It is rude to be late and it can be seen as flaky, troublesome, and annoying.

5 Things You Should Not Do In Japan

👎🍙 1. Do not eat while walking

It might be common in your country or many other countries to grab food and eat it on the go while hurrying to work etc. However, in Japan this is considered bad manners. You’ll probably notice a few looks of disapproval from locals if you do this. Although you might have an urge to buy some street food and eat it while you walk around and enjoy the sights and landscapes, try to stand in place or find a place to sit while you finish your rice ball or skewer.

🚫🚗2. Do not honk unless it’s life or death

If you’ve been to Japan, have you noticed that you rarely hear any honking here? Japanese people are mindful of other people and honking sounds can be very annoying for the community. People here don’t honk unless it is extremely necessary. You will only hear honking when there’s an accident at stake.

🙅‍♀️💴3. Do not tip

In some countries, it is quite common to tip. In fact, in some countries it might even be rude to NOT tip. In Japan however, it is not common and tipping will cause quite a confusion. So unless there is a tipping jar, keep the change to yourself.

❌ 📵4. Do not talk on the phone inside restaurants/trains/buses

Talking on the phone can be annoying for the people around you. If you must make or pick up a call, wait until you get off the train/bus first. If you’re on the shinkansen bullet train, there is a designated space for making phone calls. If you’re in a restaurant, take the call outside.

❎ 📸5. Do not take photos of other people without permission

Not only is it rude, but it is also illegal. You might come across a cute little Japanese kid on the streets and be tempted to take a photo. But unless you get their parent’s permission, this can be illegal. Or you might see someone wearing a kimono on the streets and be tempted to take a photo for the gram. This is also rude. In Japan, people almost always ask permission before uploading a photo of someone on social media, even friends.

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