Dining Etiquette & More in Japan

In general, travelers should approach the everyone in every country with respect and humility. Japan, specifically, is a country full of manners and etiquette. Foreign tourists may feel out of place and unknowingly disrespect the local culture. Read Part 1 of my Travel Etiquette Tips in Japan (Tips #1-10). And here is Part 2:

Travel Etiquette in Japan. Tip #11: Removing Shoes

In all Japanese (and most Asian) households, traditional Japanese restaurants, and even on Japanese airlines, locals remove their outside shoes. You can either simply wear socks or wear indoor slippers. This lessens bringing in the dirt and germs found on the soles of your shoes. Knowing this, make sure your socks don’t have holes!


Travel Etiquette in Japan. Tip #12: Wet Towels

When you sit at a restaurant, you will be given the menu and a wet towel (either a small towel or wet paper towelette). This is to clean your hands (not your face – that’s considered rude) for your meal, during your meal, and after your meal. Keep the towel neatly by you place setting. In nicer restaurants, you will be given a fresh towel at the end of the meal.


Travel Etiquette in Japan. Tip #13: Chopsticks

Manners and respect extends to all aspects of Japanese living, especially when it comes to dining. While you can use utensils while eating, you should also know the Japanese rules for chopsticks. For instance, no pointing or waving your chopsticks. Learn more Chopsticks Etiquette here.


Travel Etiquette in Japan. Tip #14: Pouring Drinks

The Japanese consider others before themselves when dining. If there is a bottle of any drink at the table (whether water, beer, sake, wine, etc.) refill the glasses of those around you before pouring your own. Actually, if really want to be Japanese proper, don’t pour your own drink and let someone else at your table refill your glass.


Travel Etiquette in Japan. Tip #15: Eating While Walking

In Japan, you cannot walk a block without spotting food. At the same time, you will never see locals eating while walking, or even eating on the side of the street. In fact, you can easily spot the tourist on the streets if you see them eating while walking. Instead, Japanese find proper tables and seats to dine, take home the food to eat, or bring it to a park to enjoy.


Travel Etiquette in Japan. Tip #16: Public Trash Cans

Aside from unspoken rules not to eat while walking, another reason to encourage not to do so is that you will rarely find public trash cans (and yet all the streets are so clean!). If you do have trash, don’t even think about littering. Either try your best to hunt one down or save it for when you get back to your hotel room and throw it in your room’s trash bin.


Travel Etiquette in Japan. Tip #17: Sick Masks

Japanese manners and politeness express respect and consideration for others. So much so, if locals are even slightly sick, they wear masks to prevent others around them from catching their germs. (And if you don’t want to get sick, you can also wear a mask.) In the western world, when you see people wearing masks, you tend to think less of them; whereas in Asia, mask wearers are commended for their consideration.


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