The Do’s and Don’ts of Manners

Selections

Dining

Eating noodles

It is fine to make a slurping noise when eating Japanese-style noodles such as soba, udon, and ramen. (This is part of the eating habits of Japan so you do not need to think too deeply about this.)
 

Food is generally not left over.

In Japan, you are showing that you enjoyed your meal when you eat all of your food. (This is part of the eating habits of Japan so you do not need to think too deeply about this.)
 

Toothpicks (youji)

Toothpicks (youji) are used when food gets stuck in between the teeth. Use the toothpick with your dominant hand and cover your mouth with the other.
 

Doggy bags are generally not used.

There are particularly a lot of high-class Japanese restaurants that do not let you take food out. This is because Japan is a very humid country and food sanitation is difficult. *There are some major establishments that let you take food out.
 
[JNTO] Essential Info

Lifestyle

There are places where wearing shoes is forbidden.

Taking off your shoes when entering the house is a common practice in Japan. This applies not only to houses as there are many facilities such as Japanese restaurants and bathhouses where shoes must first be took off before entry. When entering a building, it is a good idea to first check and see if you are supposed to take off your shoes and wear slippers inside.
 

Do not defile the streets.

It is not good to spit or litter on the streets.
 

Keep your voice down.

It is good to speak in a tone of voice that does not disrupt other people’s conversations in public places. Especially avoid speaking loudly in places such as on trains and busses.
 

Smoking

It goes without saying that tossing cigarette butts is forbidden, but there are many locations such as streets and public facilities where smoking is prohibited. Please smoke only in designated areas.
 

Kissing and hugging

Kissing and hugging is not a common form of expressing emotions among Japanese people. However, Japanese people respect for foreign cultures. Please interact with Japanese people in accordance with the culture of your country.
 

Greetings

Suimasen / Arigatou (Sorry / Thank You)

There are many cases where Japanese people say “sumimasen (sorry)” when they actually mean “arigatou (thank you)”. This is not an apology, but rather a show of concern over the other’s consideration and is synonymous with “arigatou (thank you)”.
“Sumimasen (sorry)” is used in situations when “sorry” or “thank you” is appropriate.
 

Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu

It is used at the end of a conversation when asking for a favor or expressing one’s wish for an ongoing relationship with the other.
 

Wrapping on gifts

It is polite in Japan that gifts are not unwrapped in front of the giving party. The only exception is when the giving party asks the receiving party to unwrap the gift. It is also a part of Japanese culture to wrap gifts carefully and neatly.
 

Public Transportation

Speaking on mobile phones should be avoided when using public transportation.
Passengers should also stand in a straight line when waiting for the train.
 

Bathing (hot springs)

Most Japanese homes have bath tubs and it is customary to bathe once a day. Please see the link below for more details on manners at hot springs and public baths.