The Dos and Don’ts of Japanese Culture: A Guide for Travelers

Jo. Sangalang
4 Min Read

Japan is a beautiful country with a rich culture, and it’s no wonder that it’s a popular destination for travelers. However, it’s important to understand the dos and don’ts of Japanese culture to avoid any unintentional cultural faux pas. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the most important things to keep in mind when traveling to Japan.



Bowing is an important part of Japanese culture, and it’s a sign of respect. When you meet someone for the first time, it’s polite to bow slightly. The depth of your bow should be determined by the status of the person you’re meeting. A slight nod of the head is appropriate when greeting someone on the street.

Take off your shoes

In Japan, it’s customary to take off your shoes before entering someone’s home, a temple, or other traditional buildings like ryokans. Look for a small step-up area or a designated shoe storage space at the entrance.

Carry cash

While Japan is a modern and technologically advanced country, cash is still widely used. It’s a good idea to carry some yen with you at all times, as not all shops and restaurants accept credit cards.

Eat with chopsticks

Japan is famous for its delicious cuisine, and chopsticks are the utensils of choice. Take time to learn how to use chopsticks properly and never stick them vertically into your food, as this is a gesture associated with funeral rituals.

Respect personal space

In crowded cities like Tokyo, it’s important to respect personal space. Avoid pushing or shoving when in crowded areas, and avoid speaking too loudly.


Don’t tip

Tipping is not a common practice in Japan, and in some cases, it may even be considered rude. Instead, show your appreciation by saying “arigatou gozaimasu” (thank you very much) or “sumimasen” (excuse me) to your server.

Don’t eat while walking

Eating while walking is generally considered impolite in Japan, especially on public transportation.

Don’t be late

Punctuality is highly valued in Japanese culture. If you have an appointment or a reservation, make sure you arrive on time or even a few minutes early.

Don’t talk on your phone in public

Talking on your phone in public, especially on public transportation, is generally considered impolite in Japan. Instead, opt for text messaging or email.

Don’t blow your nose in public

Blowing your nose in public is considered impolite in Japan. If you need to blow your nose, do so in a restroom or other private area.

In conclusion, Japan is a fascinating country with a unique culture. By following these dos and don’ts, you’ll be able to show respect for Japanese customs and traditions, and you’ll have a more enjoyable trip as a result. Remember, learning about and respecting the culture of the country you’re visiting is an important part of being a responsible and considerate traveler.

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