8 Things You Should Never Do When In Japan

Take notes before your trip
By: agnes
June 9, 2022

Just recently, Japan announced that it’s reopening borders for tourists. And if you’ve already booked tickets to visit the land of the rising sun, then you might want to know what not to do. Although most of their culture is similar to ours here in Singapore, there are certain differences. And because the Japanese take respect and culture very seriously, you should be aware of the things you should never do when in Japan. Let us help you!

1. Never rub chopsticks together

Source: Unsplash / Önder Örtel 

Chopsticks are a norm in Singapore and in Japan too. So chopsticks etiquette should be no stranger to you. You may know that it’s disrespectful to stick it upright in a bowl of rice, as it’s usually done at funerals. Furthermore, you should also never use your chopsticks to pass food to another person’s chopsticks. However, this last one might surprise you. When using chopsticks, you should never rub your chopsticks together. We’re used to doing that whenever we use wooden chopsticks. But it’s one of the things you should never do when in Japan.

2. Never go into a public bath without showering

Source: Unsplash / Roméo A.

Japan is known for its public baths, also known as ‘onsen’. It’s a unique experience that tourists would probably never get to experience in their home country. However, one thing every tourist should know is that you should never step into a public bath without showering. This is because when you don’t shower, it is unsanitary and thus, it’s one of the things you should never do when in Japan. Furthermore, don’t be shy about being in your birthday suit as it’s a norm at public baths. 

3. Never talk loudly in public transport

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One of the things you should never do when in Japan is talking loudly on public transportations. Unlike Singapore, when taking the train in Japan, it’s a beautiful experience. You get a breathtaking view of the mountains and all you hear is the sound of the train. Imagine having someone talk loudly on the phone throughout your journey. It would be annoying, wouldn’t it? Therefore, we should respect the Japanese culture and try our best to keep it low.

4. Never jump the queue

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The Japanese are known for having a great system when it comes to queueing. Whether it’d be for buses, trains, or even for the escalator. Thus, one of the things you should never do when in Japan is to jump the queue. As tourists, we should respect the queueing system and not disrupt it. 

5. Never wear shoes indoors

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Okay, we know what you’re thinking: “But we don’t wear shoes indoors in Singapore either”. While you may be right, in Japan, certain restaurants and even schools require you to take off your shoes. Of course, when visiting someone’s home, it’s a norm for us. But it’s not usual for us to take off our shoes at restaurants or at school. Thus, while it may be a surprise, we should respect their culture.

6. Never eat on the go

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Being in such a busy country like Singapore, it’s probably normal for people to eat on the go. However, one of the things you should never do in Japan is to walk and eat. In Japanese culture, it is considered disrespectful and you’ll probably get a few bad looks. This is because you may drop your food or slow down foot traffic while eating and walking. Nevertheless, there are times when eating on the go is accepted. It’s mostly accepted during festivals where street stalls are abundant.

7. Never do your laundry at night

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After a long day of exploring and doing touristy things, you might come back to your airbnb to a long shower. Soon after, you might want to throw your clothes into the washing machine to do your laundry. But stop there, because one of the things you should never do when in Japan is your laundry at night. Here’s why: Japan homes have extremely thin walls. Therefore, most of the time, you’ll need to keep it down low from 10pm onwards. Thus, doing your laundry at night is a big no-no, as the loud sound from the washing machine might disturb other residents.

8. Never blow your nose in public

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Here’s one of the things you should never do when in Japan: blow your nose in public. It’s apparently uncultured for you to do so. Therefore, if you feel the need to blow your nose, you should find a restroom or somewhere private. In addition, it’s also pretty normal for people to wear masks when feeling unwell or when they have a cold. However, since it’s Covid season, everyone will most likely be masked up anyways.

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