What you need to know before your trip to Japan

posted on 6/16/2018

Ever wondered if there are Do’s and Don’ts in Japan? Well, they do have some habits, which aren’t obvious for other countries.


Do learn some basic japanese. Japanese highly appreciate you speaking or even trying to speak japanese. Some basics like “Sumimasen” which means something like “excuse me”, “Konnichiwa” which means “Good day” and Arigatou which is “Thank you” aren’t hard to remember but  you’ll show them respect for the culture and language.

Do stand in line. Japanese really do like their structure. If you’re first, you will be first. They build queues for nearly anything. If you are waiting for the metro you will notice some markings on the platform. Make sure you stand either on the left ending or on the right. Or just stand behind others. The space in the middle is for all those who are exiting the metro.

Let them exit. As on the previous tip: You don’t enter the train before everyone who wants to get out, is out.

Do stand on the left. In Japan they have left-hand traffic. If you’re standing on an escalator, stand on the left side. Everyone who wants to pass by will walk on the right side.

Do take your shoes off. In some shops and restaurants they’re asking you to take your shoes off. You might get some slippers. In fitting rooms you have to take your shoes off and leave them in front of the door.

Always take your passport with you. Not only because you’ll get your stuff in a lot of stores tax-free but the police may stop you and want to check if you’ve a valid visa. If you can’t prove you’re visiting legal it can turn into a long unappreciated stopover at the next police station.

Protect clothes from makeup. If you’re trying on clothes, some stores may ask you to put some sort of plastic bag above your head to prevent getting makeup on their clothes.

Do wear a mouthpiece. You will see many people wearing a mouthpiece. Not only because they don’t want to get infected by you but not infect you when they’re sick.

Do slurp. While eating noodles you will hear a lot of slurping. It is totally normal. Feel free to slurp your soup too.


Don’t blow your nose. In Japan it is considered rude to blow your nose. If you’ve a running nose just dab your nostrils.

Don’t speak on the phone on the train. You won’t see anyone speaking on the phone while being on the train. It is disrespectful among other travellers. Also turn your phone silent and don’t speak too loud.

Don’t smoke. There are designated areas for you to smoke. You are not allowed to smoke while you’re walking or standing outside the areas. However, you are allowed to smoke in some of the restaurants.

Don’t eat or drink while being on the train. Just like you’re not allowed to speak on the phone you’re also not allowed to eat or drink on the metro. However, I saw some people drinking, but I saw no one eating.

Don’t stick your chopsticks into the rice bowl. Sticking your chopsticks standing upright into the rice bowl is a known ritual in japan for funerals and dead.

Don’t hand food to someone else. If your travel partner can’t get something with their chopsticks it is considered rude to hand it to them. But you can hand them their plate.

Don’t tip. It is super rude to tip someone. If you think someone is totally nice and you want to honor it just tell them. They don’t think it’s a nice gesture to tip and will come after you if you just leave it on the table.