What NOT to do in Japan! Your guide to not looking like an idiot!

Want a little extra help getting used to Japanese culture, and how to conduct yourself in the country? Well we got you covered with out list of what NOT to do in Japan.

1. Don't be obnoxious on trains or public places

Train Station

There is only a small portion of tourists who do this, and they often give other foreigners a bad name. People who are so self centered and think that they are the only one who matters in the world are among the worst people to be stuck with. Or even ust people who talk a lot louder than the social norm, making everyone in the tight space a part of their conversation. Now I say this purely based on facts and not hatred, but this is a common trait of American tourists. A lot of them do it without even being aware, but generally, Americans do tend to have a much louder voice than what is considered to be normal or an acceptable volume on a train. 

2. Don't dress up in cosplay

When people come to Japan, they think it’s an anime heaven, that everyone loves it and everyone is okay with people cosplaying in public. And this is quite the controversial topic among people, because people have different levels of tolerance when it comes to this. Wearing a themed shirt is perfectly fine, but when you dress up in a full costume with bright wigs and costume bits, that’s when the issues start. Because the truth is – Japan is not oriented around Anime and Manga. Sure, there will be specialty shops, advertisements,  and other marketing materials, but that doesn’t mean people are okay with others dressing in costume and hitting the town. If you are heading to an anime convention – that’s different. But please don’t have an anime costume as your everyday clothes in Japan – you will make the normal foreigners look bad.

3. Don't expect everyone to speak English

The first language of Japan is Japanese (duh) so don’t just randomly start talking to someone in English and expect for them to understand. Although many people have learned it in school, their skills are likely to still be very limited. Some of the locals might even be afraid to talk to you – just because they don’t know any English. There are even bars and restaurants which have a ban on foreigners, not because the owners are racist, but they don’t have any English skills or English materials at their establishment, and therefore will not be able to serve you.  

If you want to speak to a local in English, it would be best to ask this in Japanese first.

‘Sumimasen. Eigo Hanasemasu ka?’ which translates to – Excuse me, do you speak English?

To which they can reply with ‘Hai’ or ‘Hai, Eigo Hanasemasu’ which means Yes, I do. Or they could reply with ‘iie’ or ‘Gomenasai, Eigo hanasemasen’ which means I don’t. 

4.Don't cross the road whenever you feel like it.

Although in big cities, people walk in the middle of the side streets where cars are infrequent, however, On streets where a crosswalk is located, people don’t cross unless the crosswalk has the little green person – even in the dead of night when no cars around. This is a fine example of the order of Japanese society, and the values of the culture. Although there is no real punishment for crossing whenever or where ever you please, it’s still not accepted in Japanese culture.

5. Don't eat/drink and walk

Probably the hardest thing to find in Japanese cities and rural areas alike are public garbage bins. If your out on the streets, you will usually only find garbage bins at convenience stores or in public toilets – and recycling bins out front vending machines as well. But the reason why it’s so hard to find them outside their set places is because it’s to discourage littering funny enough. People in Japan know that they can eat and drink at the convenience store and dispose of their packaging there. It is also considered to be rude to eat/drink and walk because people will get the suspicion that you will litter. So if you get some food from the convenience store, eat it there, or eat it when you are in the private sector.

6. Don't Carve Your Name into Things

You’d think that this would be pretty much common sense, but sadly that isn’t the case. In recent months, Kyoto has seen an increase in vandalism, especially around the Arashiyama Bamboo forests, where some a****** decided that it would be cool to carve their names into some bamboo. Seriously, WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS! To prevent myself, and 7 billion people from being mad at you, just don’t carve you name in things with a knife or scribble your name with a marker (or something similar).

7. Don't Drink and Drive

Some countries, like UK, Canada, USA, NZ etc, allow for a certain amount of Alcohol to be in the blood system, and still be allowed to drive. However, in Japan, you can’t have ANY Alcohol in your system and operate a vehicle. If you get caught with as little .0001mcg of alcohol in your system, you can face enormous fines. If you’re a foreigner and get caught do this, you might even get deported! So if you go out drinking, make sure you have a sober driver, or find alternative methods of getting home. Remember, Drink Responsibly

8. Don't Stand in the Middle of the Escalator

Depending on where you go in Japan, there are different sides to stand on while taking the escalator. Some cities, it’s the left, and some cites, it’s the right. Just go with what everyone else is doing. People often use the other side to quickly walk up the stairs because they are in a rush, so stand clear to avoid people from getting pissed at you. If you want to stand, stand where everyone else is standing. If you want to walk, walk in the lane that’s unobstructed. 

9. Don't stop in the middle of the pathway to play Pokemon GO

Okay, we get it, when a rare Pokemon comes up on your screen, you sometimes get lost in the moment, and forget where you are standing. More times than not, you will actually stop in the middle of the walking path, forcing everyone to go around you. Surprisingly enough, Pokemon go is still a thing in Japan, and many people across all ages play it. If you see a small group of people handing around a particular place with their heads locked in their phones, then chances are, they are playing Pokemon go! Anyways, if you want to make sure you’re not putting anyone at an inconvenience while you catch em’ all, or even while sending a quick text, then just step off to the side for the moment, allowing others to pass with ease.

10. Don't pull a Logan Paul

For those who don’t know, Logan Paul was a pretty popular YouTube Personality, who went to Japan, and severely disrepected the culture, and the disturbed the citizens by throwing pokeballs at people, screaming in public, and went as far as posting a video of him at the Suicide Forest, showing an actual body he found there…Needless to say, no one wants people like him around. So make sure you respect the culture, and the Japanese way of doing things.  

11. Don't forget to take your shoes off when going into houses

Many Japanese houses and apartments have special entrance ways to take your shoes off before entering the household. These are typically characterized by a stone or tile flooring, while the other areas of the house are wooden. There will also be a step and likely a shoe box as an extra reminder. Taking your shoes off in Japanese house is an utmost priority, as traditionally, feet are considered to be quite dirty, and many people would rather you not track dirt through their house. So remember, take you shoes off before entering peoples houses! You may also be required to take shoes off in some castles, ryokans, or restaurant – but it will be clearly marked if required. 

Posted by Off The Track Japan

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