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For an enjoyable trip to Japan, keep Japanese customs and manners in mind.

Japanese Customs and Manners

September 6, 2019February 6, 2020

Tourist Attractions
Do not enter restricted areas.
Eating, drinking and smoking is prohibited at cultural heritage sites / museums.
Do not graffiti cultural heritage sites or buildings.
Do not break or bend tree branches or flower stems.
Take off your shoes.
Take off your shoes.
Take off your shoes at the entrance to ordinary homes and Japanese style restaurants.
Most places provide slippers, so wear these while indoors.
Take off your shoes / slippers when entering a Japanese-style room with tatami mats.
Plastic bags are provided at the entrance to temples, castles and historical bulidings. Use these to carry your shoes.
When visiting many historical buildings in a day, it’s a good idea to wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off.
People in Japan tend to dislike having their photo taken by a stranger at events or tourist spots and having their photo uploaded to social media.
When taking photos, make sure there are no other people around you or in your shot.
Ask permission before taking a photo of someone’s face.
In some cases, photography is permitted on the temple grounds but prohibited inside the building.
 Many facilities prohibit stroboscopic or flash photography.
 The use of selfie sticks is prohibited at places with many people, such as on public transport and at theme parks.
*Some example pictograms
Flying drones is prohibited in areas with many historical buildings, densely populated areas, arounds airports and above 150 meters.
* You will need permission from the government to fly a drone in central Kyoto.
Most drones that are not sold in Japan cannot be used legally.
For more details, check the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport website. (English Only)
Cutting in Line
At tourist facilities or theme parks where there is a line, join the line at the back.
Cutting in line may cause arguments or other trouble.
As a counter-terrorism measure, many places don’t provide garbage cans.
If there are no garbage cans nearby, take your trash back with you to your accommodation facility or somewhere else with a garbage can.
Each local government has its own garbage sorting rules.
* Littering on roads or pathways is expressly forbidden
It’s bad manners to smoke while walking or in places without ashtrays.
Find a place with ashtrays or a designated smoking area.
* Penalties may apply, depending on the local regulations.
Public Transportation
Talk quietly on trains, buses and the subway.
Set your mobile phone to silent mode and refrain from making calls except in the case of an emergency.
Train Boarding Etiquette
Line up at the platform and wait for the train to arrive.
If there is a line, join the line at the back.
When the train arrives, leave enough space for those getting off.
Do not rush to board the train as it’s about to depart.
Leave the priority seats for those that need them, such as the elderly, pregnant women and the disabled etc.
Suitcases / Backpacks
Carry your suitcase as close to you as possible.
When indoors, do not pull it behind you, but carry the suitcase by hand.
Avoid hitting others with your backpack on busy trains.
Japanese taxis use automatic doors. Wait for the door to open when getting in and out.
You’ll find taxi stands at hotels and train stations, but on an ordinary road without a taxi stand, simply raise your hand and the taxi will stop if it is vacant.
If the bathroom has special toilet slippers, change into these.
Don’t forget to change back into your own shoes when you leave!
In Japan, the provided toilet paper can be flushed down the toilet. Do not throw toilet paper onto the floor or into the garbage can.
Do not flush anything other than the toilet paper provided.
Otherwise you may clog the pipes or cause other problems.
How to Use a Japanese-style Toilet 
Squat down to use the toilet.
Flush the toilet paper. Do not put it in the garbage can.
Use a lever, button or pass your hand over a sensor to flush the toilet.
Food and Drink
It is prohibited to bring food or drink into restaurants.
As a restaurant is a shared space, be considerate of those around you.
Avoid talking loudly as much as possible.
It is not good manners to leave large amounts of food behind.
It may not always be possible to take the leftovers home with you. Check with the staff first.
If you need to cancel your reservation at a restaurant, do so as quickly as possible.
Do not cancel at the last minute, or without prior notice.
Eating and Drinking in Public Places
It’s bad manners to eat or drink inside convenience stores, retail stores or at temples and tourist facilities.
Use the sit-down eating areas available at convenience stores etc.
General Table Manners
General Table Manners
When eating, it is customary to say “itadakimasu” as an expression of gratitude for the food set before you and at the end of the meal, to say “gochisosama desu” as a thank you to those who prepared the meal. In a quiet restaurant, you can silently bring your hands together and think of these expressions in your mind.
Tapping dishes with chopsticks, handling dishes noisily and making too much noise as you eat is seen as bad manners.
* It is not bad manners to slurp soba, udon or ramen noodles.

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