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Every culture has different types of communication that often insults or offends; this is known as rudeness and is used to sometimes either get the upper hand or just to be plain rude!
Japan, a country with many barriers in its communication style, has come up with different types of rudeness to get its point across.
Some forms of rudeness in Japan are similar to particular cultures, while others will be completely different!
Here are 30 things you should know so as not to be rude in Japan.
1) No tipping!
Many people in America are tipping for good service; Japan is not one of these cultures.
Tipping in Japan is considered rude, and many places will even chase you down for giving them too much! Giving a tip can be seen as an insult to the service you have received.
2) Hot spring bath with clothes on
Taking a hot spring bath in Japan without getting naked is rude and disrespectful.
Taking your clothes off is a must if you want to get the most out of Japanese onsen.
Often, you will find locals bathing in their swim suites instead of nothing at all, so it’s best to be prepared for the worst.
3) Slurping NOODLES
Slurping your noodles is a sign that you are enjoying them! This would be seen as rude and unsanitary; however, it’s quite the opposite in Japan!
Slurping shows you enjoy and get all of the deliciousness out of those noodles.
This is also done with Ramen Noodles, so if you go to Japan and see someone slurping away, I would recommend joining in; it’s just another form of Japanese tradition!
Pointing at someone or something is seen as rude in most cultures, but it’s even more extreme in Japan.
Pointing at someone will be seen as a gesture to propose sex. If you happen to be pointing at something, it could also be taken as an insult and considered vulgar.
5) Chopsticks etiquette
In America, it’s always best to keep your elbows off the table and avoid loud noises when dealing with eating; in Japan, it’s much more complex.
For instance, you should never stick your chopsticks upright in rice because it resembles incense sticks used for funerals.
Also, if you happen to drop your chopsticks, this is seen as an act of war, so it’s best to quickly grab them off the floor!
6) Too much detail about yourself
Japanese people are not expected to talk about themselves very often because they value their time, and by taking too long can be assumed that you also do.
For the Japanese, asking someone about themselves right away can be rude and leave a wrong impression.
This is why Japanese culture usually has a more collective personality.
Especially when you just meet someone, it is good to get personal and ask questions at a comfortable pace.
7) Sweet green tea
Tea is sacred in Japanese culture; they have adopted tea ceremonies.
It’s best to avoid putting sugar or milk into green tea because it can be taken as an insult and demonstrates that you don’t really understand the concept of traditional Japanese green tea.
8) Cutting in line at a train station.
This is usually frowned upon in America, but it can be a huge offense in Japan!
Japan has long lines to get on subways, and the people are usually highly orderly. If you were to cut into the line, it would be seen as an insult to Japanese society.
9) Saying “no” to your boss when asked if you can work over the weekend.
This is often considered rude and unhelpful in the workplace; it suggests that you don’t care about your work or team members.
It’s best to say “Yes” even if you do not want to because it’s more polite and respectful of your superiors.
10) Serve yourself alcohol
It is considered rude to serve yourself alcohol at a gathering in Japan.
Instead, you are expected to allow someone else to serve for you!
It’s also seen as polite if you refuse the first time, but after that, please be gracious and take it because it shows that you respect them enough to let them serve your drink.
11) No eating on the go.
Eating on the go in Japan is considered rude and unsanitary.
It’s best to sit down and enjoy your meal, then throw away all of your trash afterward because it shows that you respect other people’s work by disposing of properly.
12) Laughing too loud or too much
In Japan, it is vulgar to laugh out loud in public.
Instead of a hearty laugh, a subtle smiling will do! Also, laughing at someone else’s jokes is not polite and could be considered mocking by some Japanese people.
13) Seating Arrangements
The Japanese value modesty and humility, so it is important to respect others.
When the host leaves his seat, the guest will go as well. When you are new in a group or an event, you should never sit on the same level or enter before an older person.
When you are an invited guest at dinner, it is best to arrive 5-10 minutes before the others. This will give you time to settle in and get comfortable before other guests arrive.
Japanese people value punctuality. It is considered rude for guests to be late or simply keep someone waiting.
If you are running late for some reason, it is polite to call your host and let him know about the situation.
15) Not taking off shoes when entering an apartment or home.
For Japanese families, it is common courtesy to remove your shoes before entering your house.
Your shoes will wear down the floor if you don’t take them off, and it can make a mess in a small space.
16) Blowing your nose in public
It is considered extremely rude to blow your nose in public in Japan.
If you must clear your nasal passages, it’s best to excuse yourself and go to a restroom or another private location where you can do so discreetly.
17) Expressing Emotions:
Showing anger or sadness in public is not considered proper for the Japanese people. In fact, showing any strong emotion outside of happiness is looked down upon.
Instead, the Japanese would show restraint and avoid expressing extreme emotions that may seem unpleasant to others.
18) Exchange business cards
When meeting someone for the first time in Japan, it is essential to exchange business cards.
When you want to leave your contact information, the business card is preferred, and leaving a piece of paper with your name and number can be considered rude.
19) Making an Excuse
It is not good to make excuses for something that could be interpreted as your fault or was not up to standard in Japan.
As much as possible, Japanese people do not want to blame others when something goes wrong or is unsuccessful.
If you are in the wrong, then it’s best that you just take responsibility for your actions.
20) Making comparisons
The Japanese believe that you should always toot your own horn, but making comparisons is not something that they find acceptable.
Whether you are saying, someone is better or worse than the other can be disrespectful.
21) Telling a white lie
In Japan, lying just for the sake of lying is considered harmful. The person you are speaking to will feel that you are not sincere, and it is better to just tell the truth.
22) No Public Displays of Affection
Public displays of affection in Japan are strictly forbidden.
Public displays of affection such as holding hands or kissing in public are considered obscene and can be misconstrued as an assault.
23) Take a bath before cleaning yourself.
Taking a bath in Japan before cleaning yourself is considered deplorable manners. In fact, people will think you don’t care about your physical self-care and hygiene!
Bowing for the Japanese is considered an art form. It is essential to curl naturally and stay in that position until told otherwise. Make sure to bow from the heart, so your feelings should be genuine.
25) Showing off wealth
In Japan, showing off with material objects is frowned upon. The Japanese would rather be modest about such things and prefer showing off achievements and skills rather than money.
26) No Phone in subways
Many Japanese people consider it rude to answer your phone in the subway, an important place that many people use daily.
It can come off as rude to answer your phone in a public space where everyone is present, so try to excuse yourself before you answer your phone.
27) Asking about other’s salary or income
Salary and income are private matters in Japan, so it is considered an infringement on privacy if you ask about another person’s income.
It is vital to consider someone else’s privacy when asking these questions.
28) No eye contact during conversations
When conversing with others, the Japanese will avoid making eye contact.
If you are speaking about something personal, it may be difficult for them to look at you while they talk, but they will maintain eye contact if the topic is more casual.
29) No eye contact while putting on face masks
The Japanese believe that if you make eye contact with someone when you put on a face mask, it is bad luck and will cause your friend to get sick.
This custom originates from the lack of visibility through many types of masks worn by the samurai.
30) No addressing someone by their first name until you are invited to do so
It is considered rude to call someone by their first name in Japan unless they ask you to.
This is why it is common for people younger than us to refer to us formally. This custom may seem strange, but it’s one of the many Japanese customs followed in society.