10 Things You Should Never Do In Japan

The Traveling Asian
The Traveling Asian

What are some things you should never do in Japan?

After all, every culture is different.

You can’t expect to go to another country and act the same way as you do in your home country. Things just aren’t the same. In fact some things that you are use to doing might even be considered rude or bad in another country.

This holds especially true for Japan.

Now most Japanese people might forgive a foreigner for their social faux pas. It might be best to do a little bit of research and studying about their culture before you try to go there to visit.

So to make it easier for you, I have made a list of the top 10 things you should never ever do in Japan.

1. Don’t Tip

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Unlike the U.S where most restaurants actually depends on tipping, Japan is the total opposite. There is no such thing as tipping in Japan. In fact most of Asia don’t rely on tipping. This is because most restaurants have the service fee included in the bill. It can actually be rude and insulting for a person to leave a tip. It isn’t just restaurants either. Taxi drivers also won’t accept tips. So if you ever find yourself wanting to tip, then do yourself a favor and stop. Because if you do leave a tip, you might find the waiter/waitress start running after you thinking that you forgot the change.

2. Overstaying your welcome

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If you ever been to Japan then you’ll notice that most shops are a pretty small size. They aren’t able to handle lots of customers at one time. They are also not able to accommodate you for dining 2-3 hours long. Unlike America where you can stay as long as you want, in Japan it’s actually not respectful to stay too long. Most restaurants or shops can only fill a certain amount of customers at a time, and they expect you to eat finish and leave quickly so that somebody else can come in and take your spot.

3. Being loud on the train

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Often times the Japanese subway transit cars are pretty quiet. This is pretty normal. Nobody wants to be annoyed by somebody talking loudly. If you notice, most people on the trains are very quiet, listening to music, playing games with the sound off etc…basically no noise. So if you are ever with your friends on a train, avoid talking loudly and keep to yourselves. If you are in fact have to answer a phone call or something than isolate yourself and keep the conversation brief and short.

4. Don’t wear your shoes inside

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In the Japanese culture, it’s normal to find yourself taking off your shoes before you enter in a home or certain businesses and temples. Basically as long as you see shoes lined up outside the doorway of any place than you can be sure that you need to take of your shoes before you enter. This is typically because the places want to keep their floors clean from the dirt of your shoes and also to protect the condition of the floor.

5. Taking pictures without permission

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A lot of places in Japan especially Tokyo will not allow photography. Certain places like stores, malls or religious areas all forbid it. But you’ll know if photography is allowed or not as usually there is a sign outside that tells you if there is a ban or not.

Also if you are ever unsure if you should take a picture than just ask.

Do note, that you should always ask permission before taking pictures of other people.

6. Blocking the escalator

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Unlike the USA where you can stand anywhere you want to on an escalator. In Japan, the left side of the escalator is reserved for people to stand while the right side is for people to walk. Do not stand on the right side of the escalator and you’ll be blocking people from walking up or down the stairs.

7. Don’t eat on the go

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One thing you should know about Japan is that you should not eat or drink while walking around in public. It is considered rude and bad mannered to do so. Another reason is that it’s also very inconvenient for yourself because you will rarely find a trash can outside in Japan. So you won’t have a place to throw your trash away.

So instead, try to find a nice place to sit down and relax while eating your food/snack.

8. Ignoring chopstick etiquette

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When you are out and about in Japan eating, there is one thing you have to remember. There is something called a chopstick etiquette. Basically do not stick your chopsticks straight up in your bowl, do not stab at your food, and also don’t pass around food from one pair of chopsticks to another. If you want to place your chopsticks down, then lay them flat across the bowl.

Also don’t bang on the table or make any noise with your utensils while you eat.

9. Don’t skip lines

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Japan is a place that is very orderly and organized. Whenever you are out and about, chances are you’ll find people standing in lines every now and then. That includes bus stops, trains, elevators, food vendors, basically anything that involves waiting, you can expect a line. So yes, you’ll have to stand in line just like everybody else. No cutting.

An example is like when you wait for the trains at the train station in Japan. The trains will open its doors exactly where the waiting line is. So once the door opens, wait for the people to come out, then you can board single file into the train.

10. Take a bath before entering a onsen or pool

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When visiting any public bath house or pool or onsens, it’s required to wash yourself first in a showering area before you get in. This is so you can wash off any dirt or dust away from your body and keep the bath houses or onsens clean.

For onsens as an example, bathing suits are not allowed, and your hair should be tied up to keep it out of the bath water. Do not swim in the onsen and also keep your towel out of the water.

Also in some areas, these places will not allow you to enter if you have a tattoo.


Basically as long as you follow these rules and use some common sense, you’ll be fine on your trip to Japan.

Hopefully these tips are able to help you out and make your time in Japan a lot better.

Also, if you are planning to visit Japan anytime soon, you might be interested in some of my other Japan posts.

Or you can check out my complete list of things to do in Japan by clicking here.

Hope you have a safe and fun trip~