We’ve put together some mind-blowing rules of courtesy from Japan. Breaking them would seriously offend your Japanese friends or colleagues.
Have you ever dreamt of visiting Japan? Seriously, who hasn’t? It is famous for its high-speed trains, colorful cherry blossom and kimonos, yummy sushi and incredible etiquette rules. Apparently, there is a ceremony and a set of rules for even the most routine things in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Addressing people 0:46
Exchanging business cards 2:06
Giving praise 2:56
In an elevator 4:30
Keeping it clean 6:04
Eating outside 6:51
Alcoholic drinks 7:57
The art of sitting properly 9:09
Taking leave 11:33
– To address people by name is not enough in Japan. Our usual Miss and Mister last name won’t work either. And even the respectful title “-san“ is only the tip of the iceberg. There are actually more appropriate suffixes for addressing or referring to different people.
– Exchanging business cards is a whole ritual. Make sure your card’s front side is facing your counterpart. Offer it with both hands. If your rank is lower than your partner’s, hold the card lower than they do.
– The Japanese believe that “You can easily break a single arrow, but not ten in a bundle.” In other words, group solidarity is much more important than individual success to them.
– Timekeeping means so much to the Japanese they are surrounded by clocks. Every park, store and even many of the billboards have clocks in them. When a train is one minute late, the railway company will make an announcement with their sincere apologies.
– If you are a tourist in Japan, try not to be the first to enter an elevator! Unless you really want to be the captain. The position is not paid though, and you don’t get a cool captain’s hat.
– On the subway, there are some restrictive rules that the Japanese are expected to follow: talking is not allowed (on the phone as well), and it’s impolite to stare at others.
– In Japan, it’s rude to look people in the eyes, let alone touch them. This country is not very large, so every Japanese person respects the personal space of others.
– If you visit a Japanese home, prepare to take your shoes off before you enter. You will get slippers instead.
– One thing to remember here is that you can’t bring your own food or drinks to the stall (which makes sense) and you can’t occupy your table for too long as there are other people waiting.
– The Japanese have a strange attitude toward money: for some reason, they are embarrassed to show it in public. Therefore, money envelopes decorated in a traditional manner are very popular here.
– If you are a tourist or a senior and spread out your legs, you’ll certainly get away with it, and no one will say anything. But it would be unimaginably inappropriate for a Japanese person to sit so.
– You have to be very careful if you want to give someone flowers in Japan. Lilies, lotus blossoms, camellias and any white flowers, in general, are reserved for funerals. Potted plants will not be appreciated because of superstitions.
– The art of bowing is so important in this country that children learn it at an early age.
– In Japan, a customer or business partner is almost a god and is treated with incredible respect. When they leave, the whole company follows them to the door or elevator and keeps bowing until the doors are closed.
Music: Eyes On You by Network 415 is part of the YouTube Audio Library (
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