20 Things Not to Do in Japan- Must Avoid Them

Japan, a land of contrasts, where modernity seamlessly blends with ancient traditions, has long fascinated travelers from around the world. While it offers a mesmerizing experience, it’s essential to understand the nuances of Japanese customs and etiquette to ensure a respectful and enjoyable visit. To help you navigate this enchanting culture, this article will delve into 20 things not to do in Japan. By avoiding these cultural pitfalls, you’ll not only show respect for the traditions of this remarkable country but also enhance your overall experience.

1. Don’t Tip

Tipping is not part of Japanese culture, and it can even be considered rude or offensive. Japanese service providers take pride in their work and believe that excellent service should be the norm, not something that requires extra compensation. Instead of tipping, show your appreciation with a polite thank you or a small bow.

2. Don’t Point with Your Feet

Pointing your feet at people, especially in sacred places like temples or someone’s home, is considered impolite in Japan. The feet are considered the lowest and dirtiest part of the body, so be mindful of your body language and sit cross-legged or with your feet flat on the floor to show respect.

what not say in japan

3. Don’t Wear Shoes Inside

One of the most important customs in Japan is removing your shoes before entering someone’s home, traditional inns (ryokan), and some restaurants. Most places will provide slippers for indoor use. Ensure your socks are clean and without holes when you enter a Japanese home.

4. Don’t Talk on the Phone in Public

Talking on the phone in public spaces like buses, trains, or restaurants is generally frowned upon. If you need to make a call, find a designated area or step aside to do so quietly. Using your phone with the sound on, especially in a quiet place, is considered extremely impolite.

what can you not do in japan

5. Don’t Engage in Public Displays of Affection

Public displays of affection, such as kissing or hugging, are not considered appropriate in Japanese society. It’s best to refrain from such behavior in public places to avoid making others uncomfortable. Even holding hands might be considered too intimate in public.

6. Don’t Engage in Loud Conversations

Japanese society values harmony and quietness in public spaces. Speaking loudly, even in casual conversations, can be seen as disruptive and inconsiderate. Keep your voice down when in public areas.

7. Don’t Touch People or Their Belongings

Respect personal space in Japan. Avoid touching people, especially strangers, and never touch or move someone else’s belongings without permission. While the Japanese can be reserved, they also respect personal boundaries.

8. Don’t Point Fingers

Pointing directly at people is considered rude. Use your whole hand to gesture or, better yet, simply make eye contact or ask for their attention politely.

japanese rules for foreigners

9. Don’t Interrupt or Speak Over Others

In conversations, wait your turn to speak. Interrupting others is considered impolite and disrespectful in Japanese culture. Active listening is highly valued, so be patient and attentive.

10. Don’t Litter

Japan is known for its cleanliness, and littering is considered a serious offense. Always dispose of your trash in designated containers and be conscious of your environmental impact. Recycling is also taken seriously, so separate your recyclables when disposing of waste.

do and don'ts in japan
11. Don’t Engage in Public Intoxication

While Japan is home to a vibrant drinking culture, public intoxication and rowdiness are generally not tolerated. Enjoy your alcohol responsibly and avoid causing disturbances. Drinking to excess is frowned upon and can lead to embarrassing situations.

12. Don’t Point at Graves

Visiting cemeteries is a common cultural practice, but avoid pointing at graves or showing disrespect while visiting these solemn places. Grave sites are considered sacred and should be treated with the utmost respect.

13. Don’t Stick Chopsticks Upright

Sticking your chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice is reminiscent of a funeral ritual in Japan and is considered highly offensive. Lay them horizontally on the chopstick rest or on the edge of your plate instead. It’s essential to show respect for food and the rituals surrounding it.

rules in japan for tourists
14. Don’t Pass Food Chopstick to Chopstick

When sharing food, don’t pass items from one pair of chopsticks to another. This practice is associated with passing cremated bones during funerals and is considered disrespectful. Use communal serving utensils or the end of your own chopsticks to transfer food instead.

15. Don’t Wear Inappropriate Clothing in Religious Sites

When visiting temples and shrines, make sure to dress modestly. Avoid wearing revealing or disrespectful clothing, and remember to remove your hat and sunglasses when entering. While Japan is a modern country, it respects its cultural and religious traditions.

16. Don’t Show the Soles of Your Feet

Exposing the soles of your feet, whether while sitting or crossing your legs, can be considered disrespectful. Sit cross-legged or with your feet flat on the floor when in a formal setting. This shows humility and respect for the people and environment around you.

17. Don’t Engage in PDA at Religious Sites

Public displays of affection, even at religious sites, are highly inappropriate in Japan. Maintain a respectful and somber demeanor when visiting temples and shrines to show reverence for the cultural heritage.

18. Don’t Engage in Public Argument

Public confrontations and arguments are frowned upon. Japanese society values harmony and conflict resolution through peaceful means. Maintain your composure and resolve conflicts privately and calmly.

19. Don’t Disrespect Queues

Japan is known for its orderly queues. Cutting in line or showing impatience can lead to disapproval and discomfort for those around you. Respect the order and wait your turn, whether in line for transportation, food, or any other service.

what not to do in japan as a tourist
20. Don’t Bring Large Bags into Restaurants

Avoid bringing large bags or backpacks into restaurants, as they can be seen as cumbersome and inconsiderate. Many restaurants offer designated storage areas for bags or may provide smaller bags for your personal items.

In conclusion, Visiting Japan is a journey into a world of rich traditions and deep cultural values. By understanding and adhering to these 20 things not to do in Japan, you’ll not only avoid causing offense but also gain a deeper appreciation for the customs and social norms of this remarkable country. While the Japanese are generally forgiving and understanding of foreign visitors who may not be familiar with their cultural intricacies, showing respect, humility, and a willingness to learn will undoubtedly enhance your journey through Japan. Your trip will become not just a vacation but a cultural exchange that leaves a lasting impression.


Leave A Comment

Registration isn't required.

By commenting you accept the Privacy Policy