For New Students: What 15 things NOT to Do in Japan

Dont do 11th at any cost

Key 15 points to remember to be successful in japan

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Things to avoid in japan

Hello, fellow adventurers! Are you a new student about to embark on an exciting journey to study in Japan? If so, you must be brimming with excitement and anticipation. But before you dive headfirst into this incredible experience, it’s essential to be aware of the cultural do’s and don’ts in Japan.

While there are numerous things you should do, today, we’ll focus on what NOT to do to ensure your time in Japan is as smooth and enjoyable as possible. So, without further ado, let’s jump into our top 15 tips!

  1. Don’t wear shoes indoors.

One of the most important customs in Japan is taking off your shoes before entering someone’s home or certain establishments. Shoes are considered dirty, and it’s disrespectful to wear them indoors. Make sure to switch to the provided slippers or go barefoot if no slippers are available. Also, remember to remove your slippers before stepping onto tatami mats in traditional rooms.

  1. Don’t stick your chopsticks vertically into your food.

It may seem innocent, but sticking your chopsticks vertically into a bowl of rice is considered extremely disrespectful in Japan. This gesture is reminiscent of a ritual performed at funerals, where chopsticks are stuck into the rice offered to the deceased. Instead, rest your chopsticks on the chopstick rest or lay them across your bowl.

  1. Avoid being too loud in public.

Japanese people value harmony and order, so being overly loud or boisterous in public places is frowned upon. This includes talking loudly on your phone, listening to music without headphones, or making a scene in public transportation. Be mindful of your surroundings and aim to blend in with the local customs.

  1. Don’t tip.

Tipping is not customary in Japan, and it can even be considered insulting. Japanese service providers take pride in delivering excellent service, and they don’t expect any additional compensation. If you feel the need to express your gratitude, a sincere “arigato gozaimasu” (thank you very much) will suffice.

  1. Avoid eating or drinking while walking.

In Japan, it’s considered impolite to eat or drink while walking in public. Instead, find a spot to sit down or stand still while you enjoy your snack or beverage. Additionally, many convenience stores have designated eating areas where you can consume your purchases.

  1. Don’t blow your nose in public.

Blowing your nose in public is considered bad manners in Japan. If you must, try to find a restroom or private area to do so discreetly. Carrying a small pack of tissues with you is a good idea, as they may not be readily available in public restrooms.

  1. Refrain from physical contact.

Japanese people are generally more reserved when it comes to physical contact, especially with strangers or acquaintances. Avoid hugging, patting on the back, or touching someone unless you have established a close relationship with them. Instead, bowing is the standard form of greeting, ranging from a small nod to a deeper bow depending on the level of formality.

  1. Don’t pour your own drink at social gatherings.

When dining with others in Japan, it’s customary to pour drinks for your companions instead of yourself. This practice shows consideration and thoughtfulness. When someone pours a drink for you, hold your glass with both hands and wait for them to finish pouring before taking a sip. If you’d like to pour a drink for someone else, pay attention to their glass and refill it when it gets low.

  1. Don’t ignore the rules for sorting garbage.

Japan is known for its strict waste disposal rules, with separate categories for burnable, non-burnable, and recyclable items. As a new student, it’s crucial to learn and follow these guidelines, as improper disposal may cause inconvenience for your neighbors and community. Many local municipalities provide detailed instructions on sorting garbage, so make sure to familiarize yourself with the rules specific to your area.

  1. Don’t interrupt or speak over others.

Respect and politeness are highly valued in Japanese culture, and interrupting or speaking over someone is considered impolite. When engaging in a conversation, listen attentively and wait for the other person to finish speaking before responding. If you need to interject, do so by using phrases like “sumimasen” (excuse me) or “chotto” (a moment), and then wait for the speaker to acknowledge you before proceeding.

  1. Don’t be late.

Punctuality is highly valued in Japan, and being late is considered disrespectful. Whether it’s attending classes, meeting friends, or going to an event, make sure to arrive on time, or even a few minutes early. If you are running late, inform the person you’re meeting and apologize for the inconvenience.

  1. Avoid using casual language with authority figures or strangers.

In Japan, there is a distinction between casual and formal language. When speaking to authority figures such as professors or strangers, use formal language and honorifics to show respect. Casual language should be reserved for friends or people of a similar age or status. Learning appropriate language usage is essential for effective communication and building relationships in Japan.

  1. Don’t cross the street on a red light.

Even if there are no cars coming, crossing the street on a red light is frowned upon in Japan. It’s important to follow traffic rules and wait for the pedestrian light to turn green before crossing. This not only keeps you safe but also sets a good example for others, particularly children.

  1. Don’t take photos without permission.

While it’s tempting to capture every moment of your journey in Japan, it’s important to be mindful of other people’s privacy. Avoid taking photos of strangers, private properties, or inside stores without permission. If you’re unsure whether it’s appropriate to take a photo, it’s always best to ask first.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

While it’s important to be aware of the cultural do’s and don’ts in Japan, don’t be too hard on yourself if you make a mistake. Japanese people are generally understanding and appreciate the effort you put into learning their customs. If you’re unsure about something or need assistance, don’t hesitate to ask for help from locals or fellow students. They will likely be more than happy to guide you and provide support.

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In conclusion, the key to having a successful and enjoyable experience in Japan as a new student is to be mindful of the local customs and traditions. By showing respect and understanding, you will find yourself welcomed with open arms and ready to make the most of your time in this beautiful country. Good luck, and enjoy your adventure!

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