Road Trippin' Japan (Part Four)

Lessons in Japanese etiquette

By Wanda Bodnar    - 3 min read

Breathtakingly beautiful, Japan is filled with mountains, covered with forests and anywhere is rarely more than an hour or two from the ocean. With its mix of peace and noise, old and new, Japan's incredible variety and depth of culture means it pretty much has it all. And while train may be the easiest way to see the country driving allows you to discover just that little bit more.

Here is part four of some of the things we learnt through our campervan trip.

Japanese etiquette

  • In Japan people greet each other with a bow with hands to the side and lower body still. During introductions, say ‘Hajimemashite’ (はじめまして) which in a practical sense means ‘Nice to meet you’.
  • Along with some temples, shrines and restaurants, take your shoes off when entering a home. Slippers will always be offered. Be prepared with decent socks.
  • Depending on the season, restaurants will offer a hot or cold towel (おしぼり, oshibori) to refresh yourself before eating.
  • In restaurants, pay at the cashier’s desk. Tips are not expected.
  • When offering or receiving something, do so with both hands.
  • Avoid talking on the phone on public transport. Public transport time is usually decompressing time.
  • If you have a cold or the flu, try wearing a surgical mask. It's considered good manners not to spread your germs.
  • At purification fountains at temples and shrines, fill the ladle with water, rinse both hands, then your mouth and spit the water outside the fountain. Transfering water directly from the ladle into your mouth, swallowing or returning any from the ladle into the fountain is to be avoided.

Other tips

  • Arriving at the airport, complete a Disembarkation Card for Foreigners. Your photograph and fingerprint will be taken.
  • You can buy data only SIM cards at the airport. You may find unlocked phones to be more convenient.
  • Cash is king in Japan as credit cards are not always accepted, especially at smaller places.
  • Vending machines offering water, fizzy drinks, tea, hot and cold coffee are everywhere.
  • Japan is a culinary heaven. Honestly. Don't be shy to try.

And finally, this map lists over 10,000 places of interest across Japan. Happy browsing and happy travels!

Go back to part three...

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Wanda Bodnar

Wanda Bodnar @wanda.bodnar

Join the discussion

Elizabeth S 4 months ago
You’ve touched on a lot of important info on different topics. I’m enjoying your road trip episodes. I would love to do this!
Elena Lisina 4 months ago
I love the trio of Jizo! Cute!
Kim B 4 months ago
Very helpful to see such a comprehensive guide.
Sleiman Azizi 4 months ago
It's a really interesting experience. I've experienced it in Australia but not yet in Japan....