Maya, writes and researches many related things about Asia.
When you hear about Japan, maybe the first thing that comes to your mind it's its difference and uniqueness, especially when we talk about culture. There are lots of actions and behaviours that seem normal and harmless, but you should avoid in the land of the raising sun, as long as you do not want to give a bad image of yourself or even get into trouble.
And to help you a little, I'll tell you 5 things with wich you should be very careful during your stay in Japan.
1. Be Very Careful With Time.
This is one of the first things that I have learned about Japanese culture. Being late is something that it is considered rude in most cultures, but in Japan it is totally disrespectful, Japanese people are very sensitive in terms of punctuality.
Maybe if you are going to meet your Japanese friend you can arrive just on time or even be a few minutes late and be more relaxed, since it is your friend and you are both close enough to do that. But if you are going to meet your boss at work, teacher or anyone whit whom you do not have a relationship beyond work or client, don't even think about being late even for a minute and always try to arrive 5 or 10 minutes early to avoid any inconvenience.
But, why they are that sensitive about time? Well, that is because the sequence of events of a day are all conected toguether by time, wich means that being late for one means the others are delayed too and you keep everyone else waiting.
Of course not all Japanese people worry about being on time, there is a little percentage that does not care about this issue, but even that it is better to always arrive on time to avoid bad situations or give a bad image of yourself.
2. Remember To Always Say Hello And Thank You.
When you go to see a person at his/her house, a restaurant, a park or anywhere, you have to remember to say Konnichiwa ( ''hello'' in Japanese ) you can't just see the person that you are meeting and star a conversation right away without saying ''hello'' first, that would be totally impolite.
And of course never forget to say Arigato ( ''thank you'' in Japanese ) or Arigato Guzaimas which means the same as Arigato, but in a more polite way, when you interact with people who serve you in a restaurant, hotel, hospital, etc. And also you should say it when someone gives you a present or lends you something or even before leaving some places like restaurants or small establishments, that's pretty common there. You will notice that Japanese people say thank you and bow very often, that is because they show their gratitude and respect that way.
3. Never Play With Your Chopsticks.
Possibly when you go to a Japanese restaurant in your city you play with chopsticks or don't use them in a proper way, well, there are many things you can't do with your chopsticks in Japan.
I'm going to list below 5 things you should not do with your chopsticks in Japan:
1. Don't rub the chopsticks toghether.
That is seen as an insult, since it implies that you are trying to get rid of splinters because the chopsticks are cheap.
2. Don't pass food to another pair of chopsticks.
It's seen rude to pass food from your chopsticks to someone else's, if you want to pass food to someone, put it in a plate so the other person can pick it.
3. Don't stick your chopsticks into your food.
Never do that, because if you stick your chopsticks upright in your food in any establishment or house, it is seen as a lack of respect because it is traditionally done at funerals.
4. Don't point at someone with your chopsticks.
Don't do it, it's considered very rude.
5. Don't cross chopsticks into an X shape.
Not only in Japan but in many countries of Asia holding your chopsticks in an X shape or setting them down so that they cross eachother is seem as a symbol of death and bad luck. So be very careful with that.
4. Be Careful With The Red Ink.
You need to be very careful while using red ink in Japan. why? Well, there are several theories for this:
1. It is believed that the person whose name is written in red ink gets shortened life.
2. There was a period when prisoner's names were written with red ink, so doing that to a person in Japan is treating him/her like a prisoner as well.
3. When a tomb is built while a person stills alive his/her name is written on it with red ink and overwritten with black ink after he/she dies.
And of course there are other theories that I have not mentioned. But if you want to avoid any bad circumstances related to that, then it would be better not to use red ink at all in your stay in Japan since there is the possibility that you get confused and, we don't want that to happen.
5. Don't Leave A Tip.
If it's normal to leave tips in your country, I will tell you that it is not in Japan, and don't even think about doing it, that's because tipping it is not customary in Japan. In fact it can be considered rude and insulting in many situations. Also in most of the Japanese restaurants you have to pay for your meal at the front register and not give the money to the waiter or waitress.
There is a great possibility that you will receive the best service in Japan, whether in a hotel, restaurant, taxi, etc. But it is all about people doing their job in the best way with pride and not expecting you to give them a tip.
Of course there are many more interesting things that you should know about this country, but I tried to be as brief and summarized as possible. Anyway Japan is a very interesting country and there are always things to talk about and to know. I hope you enjoyed the post