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Japan is a beautiful part of the world. It’s increasingly becoming a tourist destination, with millions visiting the country each year. But many people wonder whether they will be welcomed by the locals?
Most Japanese will be friendly and welcoming towards tourists. Often, the only time when they will become upset is when you are disrespectful. Because of this, anyone visiting the country must understand the accepted customs.
If visiting Japan is on your agenda, it’s important to know how you will be received. Keep reading to find out more about the relationship that the Japanese people have with tourists.
How The Japanese Respond to Tourists
Trying to categorize a whole nation of people is impossible. But, in large part, the Japanese are welcoming to tourists. They will be glad to have you in their town, as they know that you will bring wealth and boost the economy. They will usually be willing to help you out. For example, they will often be able to help tourists who need directions. Most restaurants will feature English menus.
Sometimes, you will visit towns when western tourists aren’t as common. In this case, you might get a few odds looks. But this isn’t because they are being unfriendly. It’s just a novelty to see a tourist.
Another thing to look out for is Japanese-only establishments. As the name suggests, these don’t cater to tourists. If you try to eat here, you will often be forced out. The good news is that this is a rare occurrence. If you do encounter this, it’s best to leave without making too much of a scene. You’ll usually find a more welcoming establishment just down the street.
Usually, though, no one will take notice of a foreign tourist. While you might feel like you stick out, the Japanese tend to be accepting. As long as you as trying to be respectful, they will tend to be helpful and accommodating.
Staying Safe In Japan
One of the things that people will fear when going to a foreign country is that they will be in danger. Thankfully, this isn’t something that visitors to the Land of the Rising Sun need to be worried about. Japan is ranked as one of the safest countries in the world, according to the Global Peace Index.
There are a few simple things that you can do to protect yourself. First, it’s important to be wary when using an ATM. This is true whatever country you are in. These can be a good way for hackers to learn your credit card information and scam you. Generally, though, Japan is ranked as a fairly low risk for criminal activities.
There are a few other things to bear in mind;
- Beware of drink spiking. Though uncommon, this has been known to occur.
- If possible, travel with a friend or family member
- Check your government’s State Department website before you leave. This will tell you any threats that you need to be aware of.
- If you get into trouble, contact the local authorities
The Biggest Tourist Issues
Most Japanese people will be welcoming. But that doesn’t mean that you can get away with anything. It’s still important to remember that you are in a foreign country. Because of this, you’ll need to make sure that you are trying to follow the local customs. This is the best way of showing your respect to the locals.
The most significant transgression that a lot of tourists make is talking too loudly. This is especially irritating in public places, like on a train. If you get a phone call, it’s usually preferable to answer and quietly tell them that you can’t talk at the moment.
It’s most important to be respectful when you are visiting cultural sites. Many Japanese people consider these to be highly important locations. When walking around, you’ll need to be quiet and respectful.
Some other things to avoid include;
- Blowing your nose in public
- Leaving a tip
- Harassing the locals to get selfies
- Smoking in public
- Using your finger to point at someone
As long as you take some time to learn the customs before you go, you shouldn’t have any problems. Remember, you don’t need to become a local. But you do need to respect the way that they live.
Though we’ve focused on individual tourists, sometimes the number of people visiting an area can cause problems. This is especially true for the people living in tourist hotspots. For example, those around Kyoto have started to complain to the government. They state that the sheer number of tourists makes traveling more difficult.
Because there are so many cars on the road and people on the trains, it can be difficult to get near any of the popular tourist destinations. Because of this, you might notice some government campaigns asking tourists to visit more remote parts of the country. Not only will this take the pressure off some of these popular destinations, but it will also give you the chance to explore some parts of the country that you wouldn’t ordinarily see.
Tips for Tourists in Japan
Taking Public Transport
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of how you will be able to fit in when visiting Japan. But one of the biggest issues that you have is how you will get around. You could hire a car. Though this can be expensive. Plus, driving in a foreign country can be stressful. Your best choice is often to use public transport. These systems are very efficient, so they’ll be able to get you to your destination on time.
As we mentioned, there are a few tips to keep in mind when using a public transport system. This includes; avoiding loud conversations and blowing your nose. But there are a few other things to bear in mind. These systems tend to be very efficient. Because of this, you might want to arrive early, so you don’t risk missing your train or bus.
It’s also important to make sure that you are carrying cash. Many of the smaller shops won’t have the facilities to deal with credit or debit cards. The good news is that there are plenty of ATMs available. The bad news is that these might not work at night or on the weekend. Because of this, it’s best to draw out more than you need.
One of the most common areas of friction with tourists is the tattoo laws. Tattoos are common in Western countries. They can be a way of showing off your personality. However, in Japan, these are frowned upon. They are associated with troublemakers, like those in the Japanese mafia.
While having a tattoo is not illegal if you have one you might be banned from some public areas. This can include places like;
- Water parks
- Public baths
If your tattoo is small, you might be able to cover it up with a band-aid. Though these laws might seem unnecessary, it’s important to remember the context in which they were introduced. If you have tattoos, it’s best to skip these attractions.
Japan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. People are attracted to the vibrant culture. The cultural sights and delicious food are also popular features. The Japanese will often embrace tourists with open arms. They will be willing to share their history with foreigners. Most unpleasant experiences will stem from the tourist disrespecting the norms of the country. When you first arrive, it will be a culture shock. But, as long as you try to embrace the local customs, you shouldn’t have any problems.