Japanese Expectations and Norms

1.  Shoes:

A common stereotype amongs Asians, is that you have to take your shoes off before entering one’s house. Imagine, all the places you visit in a day, then you wear your shoes inside the house, that’s disgusting. If you visit a public restroom, all the bacteria and bodily fluids that lands on the ground will seep into the carpet of your house. The thought of people doing this and continue to lay on their floor gives me chills…but it’s also the way I have been raised.

This is a very important part in Asian culture and symbolizes respect for whoever’s house you are entering.

  • This is very important in Japanese culture, since Japanese are extremely clean.
  • When visiting certain restaurants, hostels, and capsules, they may have a shoe storage area for you to store before entering.
  • Not a big deal if you forget.

2. Dressing Room Etiquette:

  • Take off your shoes
  • If you wear makeup like foundation, mascara, eyeliner, lipstick, etc., they may offer a bag that will cover your face to protect the clothes from getting makeup stains.
  • This is such a great innovation because I have wanted to buy so many clothes from stores that had makeup stains on it. *cough Forever 21 cough*

3. Littering:

  • I don’t know how Japan is so clean because I had a very hard time finding a recycling and garbage bin, even in major stations.
  • I would carry a small plastic bag to place all the garbage you accumulate around with you because who knows when you’ll find a trash can. Worst case scenario, just ask somebody if they have a garbage bin and they’ll take care of it for you.
  • DO NOT LITTER (in general, but especially in Japan)

3. Ordering Food:

  • Many restaurants now use machines that act like a vending machine to take your orders. Simply just pay and pick the item you want. It’ll then print out a ticket for you that you will hand to the waiter.

4. Towelletes:

  • Hot towelettes given before a meal
  • Do not put it on your face, it’s gross and not very respectful.
  • Just use it on your hands and place it back onto the table.

5. Meal Etiquette:

  • It is considered very rude to the chef, if you ask for them to make accomadations for your eating habits. Like saying, “no pork”, “no cheese”, etc. However, if it is for a dietary or allergy, then it is okay. Just explain it to them if they ask about it.
  • Sushi, everybody’s favorite. When it comes to sushi, it is considered very improper and rude if you chew off a part of it. It’s best to either eat the sushi whole or to cut a part of it.
  • Go easy on the wasabi since the sushi chef placed a proper amount already in the sushi.
  • This is probably the one country where slurping is socially acceptable. Slurping things like ramen or soup indicates that the meal is delicious.
  • Typically before starting a meal, Japanese will say “Itadaki masu” (-su at the end isn’t pronounced –SUE). It essentially means “thank you for the meal.”


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