Japanese Etiquette Tips: What You Should Do In Japan

28 November 2023
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Japanese House

Unsplash: Dovile Ramoskaite

When the angel on your right shoulder tells you to make sure that you’re practicing proper etiquette, then you better follow those words carefully. This angel is only reminding you that showing proper etiquette is very important and the best thing to do no matter where you are. So listen to that simple instruction and try not to take it the wrong way. After all, an angel knows a thing or two about good deeds. Right?

In Japan, good manners and etiquette rules are super embedded in their highly structured society. Perhaps reading that may sound quite scary to those who don’t know much about Japanese culture, which is totally okay. But this isn’t something that should intimidate anyone, because “unspoken” rules can be learned and understood by anyone. Also, etiquette rules are present in many places besides Japan, so there’s that. Therefore, if you’re traveling to Japan today or sometime in the future, your best bet is to know and get familiar with Japanese etiquette tips that will help you show respect and kindness to the locals around you

  • Bowing
    • Bow when saying thank you
    • Bow when saying goodbye
    • Bow when someone bows to you
  • Chopsticks
    • Don’t use your chopsticks to pass or hand food to someone
    • Don’t cross the chopsticks over in any way
    • Don’t leave chopsticks standing up
    • Don’t point with chopsticks or wave them up in the air
    • Don’t stab the food with your chopsticks
    • Do use the other end of the chopsticks when you’re grabbing food when sharing a meal with other people
  • Footwear
    • Take off your shoes indoors (private homes, temples, restaurants)
    • Never wear shoes on tatami mats
    • Use separate footwear provided when using the restroom
  • On the streets
    • Don’t leave trash on the streets. Carry them with you and dispose them when you find a garbage can
    • Don’t eat while walking the streets
    • Do walk on the left side of the street as many people are walking on the left side of the street (or follow the direction of where people are walking)