7 Japanese customs to know before you travel

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If you were to ask for our travel bucket list, it’d be the length of our arm at the very shortest! There are so many places worth visiting in 2019, but top of our list has to be Japan. With fascinating culture and an unmatched culinary diversity, Japan is the ideal spot for any kind of traveller.

The rich culture and traditions mean there are plenty of Japanese customs and general etiquette you should respect when visiting the country. There are hundreds of customs we could list off but instead we’ve chosen Japan’s lucky number seven. These seven customs are some of the more important ones you’ll need to know when visiting Japan and who better to tell you about them than former rugby player turned travel extraordinaire, Tommy Bowe.

  1. Bowing
    Be sure to bow when you say hi, thanks or goodbye to someone. It’s seen as a sign of respect and politeness.1
  2. Two hands rule
    If any Japanese locals’ hand you anything, take it from them with two hands.2
  3. Removing your shoes
    If you’re going into a building with a foyer or steps down to the entrance, take off your shoes. You’re also expected to take off your shoes when going into someone’s home or a temple. Some restaurants might also require you to take off your shoes, so check if there are rows of shoes out front and follow suit if so.3
  4. Chopsticks
    It’s good practice to use chopsticks when eating in Japan. Don’t ever play with the chopsticks, like drumming them on the table or pointing with them. Never pass food with your chopsticks to another person, and don’t stand chopsticks up in your food; instead lay them flat across your bowl or place them on the chopstick rest.4 Don’t worry if you can’t master the art of using chopsticks just yet – you can buy some training chopsticks to take with you!
  5. Mobile phones
    It’s considered rude to have loud conversations on your phone on any kind of public transport. You should also keep your phone on silent.5
  6. Tipping
    Tipping is not expected in Japan, and the service charge will already be factored into your bill. You might actually be followed down the street by your server if you leave extra money behind!6
  7. Payment
    Keep an eye out for small trays at tills – you’re meant to put your money here rather than handing it directly to the cashier. Most places take cash payment over the use of credit cards, unless it’s a fairly upmarket shopping centre, hotel or restaurant so make sure you always have some on you.7

Hoping to add another spot to your 2019 travel bucket list? You’ve still got time! Check out some of our top picks here

Do you have a habit of over-packing for a trip? We’re guilty of it ourselves! Our packing tips should help you keep your case nice and compact.

No matter the type of travel you’re planning, we can look after you. We protect single trips, multi-trips, business trips, backpacking travels, winter trips and family holidays…phew! Find out more here.

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