Japanese people are extremely polite and welcoming (one of the best things about visiting Japan), but many visitors worry about accidentally offending them by saying or doing the wrong thing.
Bear in mind is that Japanese people don’t expect you to know all of their customs and etiquette, but a few basics are useful. Here are a few helpful tips:
There are many rules around the use of chopsticks, but here are a few key things to keep in mind; Never point your chopsticks at another person, wave them in the air, or spear food with them and avoid putting your chopsticks upright into a bowl of rice.
Handing over money when paying
In Japan, money is rarely passed directly from hand to hand. This means that when you purchase an item or service, you won’t hand money directly to the cashier. Instead, you’ll place your payment (whether cash or credit) on the small tray provided. If change is due, your change will be placed here for you as well.
Removing your shoes
In Japan, it’s common to remove one’s shoes before entering certain buildings, such as ryokans (Japanese-style inns), temples, and at traditional restaurants. Bring shoes that slip on and off easily, and neat socks, too – they’ll be on display often!
Japanese people bow when greeting one another. If you’re used to shaking hands when meeting people, it may be difficult to get used to bowing instead of shaking hands. But don’t worry: many Japanese people are accustomed to shaking hands when meeting non-Japanese. Bowing is also used when thanking someone. At hotels, ryokans, shops, and restaurants (particularly at higher-end establishments) it’s common for staff to bow deeply to customers.