Tuesday, September 26, 2017

8 Things You Need to Learn Before Visiting Japan.

       Cultural differences are a part of the experience. But sometimes, we need to do some research to avoid having too much of a shock (to one self and to others). Last year, we’d released an article stating 10 things you should avoid while traveling in Japan… this time, we are counting down the most important things you should absolutely learn prior to your trip to Japan.

       While I don't think learning Japanese is necessary (they actually know English quite well), it will still come in handy when you are visiting rural areas. Thus, it is good to pick up some basics.

1. Cover up your tattoos.

While tattoos might be a cool trend in other places, not in Japan. Here tattoos are considered taboo especially if you are thinking of visiting a traditional onsen.  The people with tattoos are primarily the yakuza or Japanese mafia, so tattoos give Japanese the creeps.

What to do: When walking outside, try to cover tattoos with clothes. Don’t expose them intentionally, you’ll be considered rude. If you are in fact thinking of an Onsen experience, there are tattoo concealer and socks on the market. Learn how to use them.

2. Not to Point. 

If you must, for example, to point out directions, do not use fingers. Use your hand instead.
What to do: The polite way to do this is to bend your elbow with your Palm facing up (like a waiter carrying a tray).

3. Keep garbage. 

What?! Keeping garbage? You might think that I’ve made a mistake. But no… littering is unacceptable in Japan, considering huge efforts the Japanese had taken to keep their country spotless. However, you might be surprised by the lack of Garbage bins in Japan!
What to do: Prepare a plastic bag in your backpack. That will be a temporary garbage bag until you find a garbage can.

4. Stay quiet. 

In Japan, everyone stays quiet in the metro, on the bus, on the streets and even queuing in line for the ride at Disneyland! Often, we don’t have to turn around to find out that those blabbering loudly behind are Westerners (well I mean tourists, most expats understand this rule.) Remember, even talking on phones is considered rude!

What to do: use WhatsApp/ line/ Viber instead if you need to contact someone.

5. Not to tip. 

When you are living in a tipping country, I understand the urge to show your gratitude. But you have to understand that tipping is seen as bribing (a rude gesture) because the Japanese believe no-one deserves monetary incentive for doing their own job.

6. To be techno-savvy.

In techno-savvy Japan, learn to stay up to date. It might be frustrating when nature calls but you do not know how to use the public toilet.

What to do: Get yourself familiar with the functional buttons on a toilet seat or a vending machine by watching some youtube videos.

7. Some basic table etiquette. 

First thing first, try to learn using a chopstick. because eating with a chopstick in an Izakaya is an experience itself.

Before starting your meal, you’ll be given a rolled up towel “Oshibori”, one of my friends actually thought that it was a sweet and put that in her mouth… Oshibori is used to wipe hands, not for the face. And if you are in Japan, you’ll most probably like to eat some sushi! But! Let’s eat in a way that won’t cause heart attacks to any Japanese near you. The correct way of eating sushi is as shown below.

Also, when eating ramen, slurp away! Let the host know that you are enjoying the meal!

8. Take off your shoes and keep changing footwear. 

Japanese are very particular about footwear. The basic is: Always take off your shoes when entering a house/restaurant. You might or might not have to change into a slipper, but there will most certainly be a bathroom slipper when visiting the lavatory. Remember to leave the slippers as well when you’ve done.

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Thank You for Reading! This post is based solely on my honest opinion or personal experience. If you have more to share, feel free to comment below!

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