Manners/Etiquette- Dos and Don’ts in Japan

Do Not DO!

  1. Trains, buses, subway, and other forms of public transportation:
    • Don’t talk loudly, scream, or be obnoxious on any form of public transportation
    • Many people rely on hearing their stop if they are on a section of the train where they can’t see the next stop (especially when the train or subway is crowded)
    • Hanging on rails, jumping, etc. is very rude on public transport
    • Refrain from taking phone calls on public transport as well
      • Sometimes it can’t be helped, and sometimes you will see people cup their hands around their mouth and whisper into their phones
    • You will see lines for doors, so DON’T cut in front of people
  2. At restaurants:
    • Do not double dip food into shared sauces, pots, etc.
    • Don’t stick your chopsticks vertically in food
    • Don’t leave a tip- service is always included in the bill
    • If you are with Japanese people, do not serve yourself sake first-always offer first
    • DO NOT ASK FOR SPLIT CHECKS! Just pool your money together and pay your portion- Japan is a cash-based society anyways so it shouldn’t be hard (if need be, keep a tab on who owes who money on your phone).
  3. On the street/In stores
    • Do not blow your nose violently/randomly in public- find a more discreet place to blow your nose
      • Or you can just sniffle like crazy
    • Do not eat or drink while walking.
      1. Just stand near or next to the stand or outside the store and finish your food and drink there
      1. Japan does not have many accessible trash cans so a lot of the time only the stand or shop has a trash bin. Therefore it’s just better to stand there and finish your food.
    • Don’t LITTER- keep your trash with you until you see a trash bin somewhere
    • Don’t smoke wherever- find a designated smoking area


  1. SLURP/Burp when eating and drinking- enjoy your food!!!!!
    • If you are drinking soup of any sort (from ramen, udon, or just miso), drink directly from the bowl.
  2. Use TWO hands as much as possible when giving and receiving things like money, food, etc.
    • At many stores you can place money on the tray for payment rather than juggling coins and cash with both hands.
  3. Take off shoes when going into homes, specific restaurants, shrines, temple areas unless you see people doing otherwise
  4. If you are in a public bath house or onsen- RINSE OFF/CLEAN YOURSELF FIRST before entering the bath
  5. Explore and engage in Japanese clothes, custom, and traditions (ex. Wear the given yukata if you are at an ryokan)
  6. If meeting locals for the first time, bow first before deciding if you want to offer a handshake
  7. Leave wet umbrellas outside (there will be umbrella holders)
    • Malls are exceptions where there is a device for you to put your umbrella in a plastic wrap to keep water from dripping onto the ground when you walk
  8. Turn off your air-conditioning unit when leaving the room to be eco-friendly
  9. Be quiet in your rooms at night.
  10. Be polite
    • An exception is when you are on a crowded train, subway, etc.
      • If you need to get out, then get out
      • Some cases you need to shove yourself out or into the doors- everyone is doing it so no need to be fearful
      • You may need to say “Sumimasen” to alert the people around you

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