Japan has many great unique culture and traditional while there are many custom (manners) that you are confused if you do not know. If you know it in advance then your trip will be more enjoyable without worries about confusion. We would like to introduce about basic manners when you need for meals and use transportation facilities. In addition when you travel around to temples, shrines and hot springs which are really popular tourist spots.
1. Manners on train – Waiting in line neatly. Japanese who don’t disturb other people.
When you get on a train around urban areas, the train is extremely crowded because of the rush of going home from around 7:30 to 9:00 in the morning and commuting to school or in the evening from 18:00 to 19:00. As far as possible, it is better to move away from that time zone.
You can see the attitude that Japanese people try to keep the order when they get on and off trains. Please wait in line when you get on trains in Japan. When trains arrive at platform and the side of the doors are opens, you need to let alighting passengers get off first. You can get off to let others off and then get back on. You should pay attention to the volume of “voice”, while you are riding. It is a basic manner to be quiet in a train when you take a bus, a bullet train and other transportation facilities. Also, You should set your cell phone on silent mode there. Except a few particular palces, talking on the phone is not allowed in here. If a phone call comes in, you wii not reply to it and then you text him/her that you can’t answer right now.
Because of using mobile phone itself is not prohibited, a lot of Japanese spend time doing SNS, games, surfing the Internet regardless of generation. Although it is nice to look at such Japanese people behavior, looking at the scenery seen from the window and the travel brochure, It will quickly arrive at your destination.
2. Manners in temples and shrines – Historical customs lasting hundreds of years
Very popular sightseeing spots temples and shrines. The temple is a place to worship Buddhism and it was transmitted from China and India. Buddha statues are set up inside. The shrine is a place to worship the Japanese original religion “Shintoism” and a gateway to a Shinto shrine and a pair of stone guardian dogs are set up outside. There are several manners in temples and shrines but especially, the way of “worshiping” is distinctive. Some Japanese don’t know the way of formal worship. If you, foregin visitors, pray in formal way, it can be said that quite familiar with Japan.
Then, let explain how to pray in the shrine. Praying to the enshrined god at the biginning. Bowing in front of a Torii gateway.
- The middle of the path that leads from the Torii gateway to the main hall is the place where Gods walk. It is considered proper etiquette for all visitors to avoid walking in the middle of the path and you should walk on the sides.
- Before approaching the main sanctuary, all visitors are required to purify your hands and mouth “Temizu”.
- Ringing the bells when you get to the main shrine. Giving a coin into the offering box. Whichever coin you like. 5 yen coin, 10 yen coin, 100 yen or the others.
- Practicing “Twice bowing, twice clapping and one time bowing”
Actually, the temples and the shrine have something in common with. There are few temples compared with the shrine, but some temples have “Chozusha”, building for cleaning hands and rinsing mouth, and the offering box are set up.
3. Table manners – Cheers after all members gathering together
In Japan, people are educated to say “ITADAKIMASU” before meal and “GOCHISOUSAMA” after meal since they are children. “ITADAKIMASU” and “GOCHISOUSAMA” have a meaning of thank you for giving me your life.
And it is a good manner that you don’t waste foods and eat them up. Although you don’t get in trouble by anyone if you leave foods unfinished, eating foods up shows thanks to people made delicious dishes for you.
There will be a chance to see drunk Japanese people making a lot of noise unlike ordinary quiet Japanese people. Here is in a Japanese unique-manner.
First, Let’s wait for drinks everyone ordered. It is rude that you start drinking selfish until all drinks have not come in yet. Let’s raise your glass and say “cheers” after all drinks are set up. In Japan it is common that you don’t pour your own Japanese sake or beer and someone else does it for you. If someone have alcohol pour for you, let’s say a word “ARIGATOU(thank you)”.
A little mistake leads to a “funeral” – When you use chopsticks, “stabbing rice with your chopsticks” act is absolutely prohibited. In Japan, stabbing rice with your chopsticks act means dedicating the offerings to the dead.
4. Manners in hot springs – Japanese people take it seriously because they love it.
Hot springs are loved by Japanese people as a place to heal daily fatigue. There are hot springs throughout Japan and it is becoming one of the enjoyment when traveling. Foreigners who don’t have much custom to soak in the bath may be confused if they don’t know how to go in hot springs in Japan. Well, I will introduce some of the rules of hot springs you need to know.
- you have to go in naked and it’s Japanese bath etiquette of hot springs in Japan. You’re going to have to take off your swimsuit. The place to enter by men and women is different for bathing naked.
- Before you step into a dressing room, take a good look at the color and the word of shop curtains and avoid entering by mistaking.
When you enter a hot spring, The thing that you take as a minimum is a towel for washing my body. Please take a bath towel and clothes for wiping your body when you need it. When you enter the dressing room, you take your clothes off and put all your luggage in a locker. Because there are also some hot springs where lockers cannot be locked, please leave your valuables in the safe or the front desk. After you wash your body and hair, you can enter the bathtub. While bathing, don’t put the towel into the bathtub because the water in the hot spring gets dirty. You need to put the folded towel on the head or put it in a place not to disturb other people.
When you go up from the bathtub, take a shower and wash away the sweat. When you leave the bathroom, please wipe off body water with a towel as much as possible. Because it is to avoid soaking wet the floor of the dressing room.
5. Manners of gifts – Is it right to refuse once!? Japanese unique manners
In Japan, there are unique customs that express your gratitude through “gifts”. You should be careful of the particular manners when you receive gifts directly. In Japan, modesty is considered a virtue. You need to try to refrain from receiving a gift one time when you receive a gift and its habit is rooted there. Even if you receive a gift, you refuse by saying “No, no, I’m sorry” once. If you refuse it once, there’s nothing to worry about. The other person says and recommends to you, “Please receive the present from me”. You will receive the gift for the first time and express thanks and your gratitude “Thank you very much”.
In this way, people will understand that you are a moderate person by trying to refuse once. Also, in Japan, there are many opportunities to give gifts as well as special days such as birthdays and anniversaries of close friends. For example, when you come back from a trip, when you visit someone’s house, when you meet a former teacher or boss and more. Although there are opportunities to give a gift day-to-day, it is an important gift for them. Let’s give a gift after you properly got it gift-wrapped.
Don’t open a present soon even if you are glad to get it. In Europe and the United States, it is common to confirm the contents of gift by removing wrapping there when you receive a present. Then, you will express gratitude to others. If you open the gift without saying anything with your country custom, the Japanese who gave the gift will be surprised at your behavior. It is considerate of Japanese people that they think “you really like a gift or not”, “The gift you chose is not to look too bad against other items”. If you want to check inside the gift there, it is a better way to say a few words and ask “Can I open it here ?”. When you open it, please give a feeling of your gratitude all you can express.
Knowing the manner of meals and gifts, you can deepen engagement with Japanese people on your journey through team-building activities.
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