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Going To Japan? Try Not To Offend Someone

Photo credit: Gettyimages

Photo credit: Gettyimages

The Japanese are very polite and manner-conscious so many people are somewhat scared to visit this beautiful country because they don’t want to offend someone. Japanese are actually pretty forgiving of foreigners and do not get offended by little things. However, some things cannot be overlooked.


Add “-san” as an honorific at the end of people’s names. If you can, learn keigo before learning the direct mode of speech. Keigo is the honorific language of Japan. It’s not the easiest thing to learn (even most young Japanese can’t use it properly).

Not Taking Off Your Shoes

Just take of your shoes, common logic at its finest. No one wants you bringing in the whole street on the floor where they walk barefoot. Also, make sure to neatly place your shoes so that they point towards the door. If you don’t, your host will have to do it for you.


Sticking your chopsticks vertically into your bowl of rice is only done at funerals.

Also, you might not want to point at people with your chopsticks either.

The safest road is to copy what you’re doing. Also, don’t pass food from one set of chopsticks to another.

Japanese try not to be too direct about things, so this action would require you to deposit the food onto a plate so that another person can pick it up from there.

Being Loud

It is forgiven to be loud and “all up in it” when drinking in an izakaya or karaoke bar, but on the street and public transportation you might want to keep it down.

Being Late

The Japanese people will think you don’t care very much about other people and they will be very irritated. Japanese take appointment times quite literally; they literally expect you to be there on the dot. This also assumes you will have gotten there five minutes early to be cautious.

Being Messy

Japanese people like cleanliness. If you throw trash on the street then they will be quite offended., and yes, they do it themselves too but you are more likely to be seen because you are a foreigner. In addition, when eating a meal make sure not to leave any little rice bits or other food. You will get extra points for keeping your plate clean.


When visiting someone in their office, home, or even in a restaurant it is generally good form to sit only after being offered a seat. Be aware that they are very conscious about the “politics” of who sits where, so it is a good idea to wait until being told where to sit.

Regarding public transportation, you will be stared at with contempt (and for good reason, too) if you don’t give up your seat to anybody over 60, especially if they look like they are struggling to stand. It goes for pregnant women, also.

Hand gestures

When indicating yourself, you point at your nose. If you want to indicate somebody who is standing beside you, put your palm up, keep your fingers closed, and direct your whole hand toward them. Pointing is usually rude wherever you go.