Japanese Etiquette 101

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The Summer 2021 Olympics are finally here and this year they are being held in Tokyo, Japan. Japan is a fascinating country, filled with a rich history and interesting cultural mores that leads to a very efficient and polite modern society. Are you interested in learning more about modern Japan? Or are you planning a post-Pandemic trip? You can start your journey by learning some basic Japanese Etiquette to help guide you. 

Japanese Etiquette 101

  • Take Off Your Shoes
    • When entering a traditional Japanese space, such as a temple or home, you may encounter a genkan or entrance area where you are to leave your outside shoes. Sometimes you will be provided a pair of slippers, so it is a good idea to wear a clean pair of socks when visiting public places in case you have to slip off your shoes. Turn your shoes to face the door and walk right into them on your way out.
  • No Loud Talking in Public
    • If you are on a train or in a public area, it is considered very rude to carry on a loud conversation on your phone or with your friends. Eating is also frowned upon, as it can be very messy and furthermore you may not be able to find a public trashcan.
  • Carry Your Trash with You
    • Public trashcans are rare, so it is imperative you take whatever trash you make with you. 
  • Use the Cash Tray When Shopping
    • Handing cash directly into a shopkeepers hand is considered very rude, so most stores will have a change tray instead. You place your payment, whether cash or card in it, and the cashier will hand you back your change and receipt on it. 
  • Carry a Handkerchief
    • Public towels and napkins are just as rare as trashcans, so it's a great idea to bring either a hand towel or a handkerchief with you when you travel so any messy moments you may have. If you walk through a busy shop area, you may even be handed a branded one by a store looking to advertise every time you need to sneeze!
  • Slurp Your Noodles
    • Slurping noodles is considered the best way of eating them, so don't wait when you get a steaming bowl of udon, just dive right in!
  • Don't Stick Your Chopsticks Straight Up
    • Sticking chopsticks vertically in a bowl of rice is too similar to funeral rituals, so it is taboo to do this at the dinner table. Likewise, sharing food chopstick to chopstick is also taboo, so if you would like to share a choice piece of wagyuu place it on your dining partner's plate.

Interested in learning more about Japanese customs and history? Check out our amazing collection of Japanese history books and get started on your trip to Japan! Here are some select titles you may like:

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A Brief History of Japan : Samurai, Shogun and Zen : the Extraordinary Story of the Land of the Rising Sun by Jonathan Clements

This fascinating history tells the story of the people of Japan, from ancient teenage priest-queens to teeming hordes of salarymen, a nation that once sought to conquer China, yet also shut itself away for two centuries in self-imposed seclusion. ..With intelligence and wit, author Jonathan Clements blends documentary and storytelling styles to connect the past, present and future of Japan, and in broad yet detailed strokes reveals a country of paradoxes: a modern nation steeped in ancient traditions; a democracy with an emperor as head of state; a famously safe society built on 108 volcanoes resting on the world's most active earthquake zone; a fast-paced urban and technologically advanced country whose land consists predominantly of mountains and forests. -From the publisher

Be More Japan: The Art of Japanese Living

Whether you're dreaming about your first journey, revisiting the trip of a lifetime or simply in love with all things Japan, Be More Japan will transport you to this fascinating country. Dive into the thrilling and serene world of Shinto monks, street food vendors, anime characters, Okinawan centenarians, technological innovators, J-Pop megastars, ancient philosophers, onsen dwellers and so many more. There are so many ways to fall in love with Japan. It's home to one of the world's most unique cultures: a perfectly balanced celebration of past traditions; the vibrancy of now and the need to look fearlessly into the future. From architecture to martial arts; from ramen to robots; kawaii to Kusama; ikigai to ikebana; towering skyscrapers to shrines - Be More Japan uncovers the art and creativity behind modern Japanese living through its kaleidoscope of contrasting places, people and practices. With beautiful design throughout and with each page alive with facts, history and inspiration, Be More Japan invites you to absorb a little Japanese wisdom into your daily life. - From the publisher

Japanese Culture : The Religious and Philosophical Foundations by Roger Davies

This much-anticipated sequel to Roger Davies's best-selling The Japanese Mind provides a comprehensive overview of the religion and philosophy of Japan. This cultural history of Japan explains the diverse cultural traditions that underlie modern Japan and offers readers real insights into Japanese manners and etiquette. Davies begins with an investigation of the origins of the Japanese, followed by an analysis of the most relevant approaches used by scholars to describe the essential elements of Japanese culture. From there, each chapter focuses on one of the formative aspects: Shintoism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zen, Confucianism, and Western influences in the modern era. -From the publisher

Tokyo & Beyond: A Unique, Stylish and Offbeat Travel Guide to Tokyo & Beyond by Anna Chittenden

Tokyo & Beyond is a unique, stylish and offbeat travel guide highlighting over 150 wonderful places to eat, shop, stay and more in Tokyo and other destinations easily reached from the city - each one personally visited and recommended by the author Anna Chittenden. Starting with the capital, explore nine neighbourhoods and discover affordable sushi spots and cool coffee stands, flea markets selling vintage kimonos and secret open-air sentos. A quick hop on the bullet train will whisk you away to polar-opposite scenes: try skiing in Hakuba and onsen-hopping in Hakone; explore the rich heritage of Kyoto and stay in a monastery in Mount Koya; and fall in love with Mount Fuji before heading back to Tokyo for late-night karaoke. Designed to be practical and useful as well as beautiful, this book is organised geographically with bespoke illustrated maps and original photography. It will give you all the information you need to plan the perfect trip to Tokyo and beyond. - From the publisher

Posted by Assh on July 12, 2021