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Travel with young kids - etiquette tips? 2019/8/10 08:26
Hi everyone,

Ifve just been amazed at how helpful everyone on this forum is, I have had a huge amount of help from the two questions I have posted previously.

Ifm now just a week away from departure so wanted to ask for some final help. We donft know Japan and donft speak Japanese. I donft like feeling like a tourist and getting it wrong so I have done some research and the children and I have been learning one Japanese word a day for the past few months to at least have some basic words.

I wanted to ask if there are any top tips for having children in Japan? I know child rearing is very culturally different and I hope we can avoid offending people as much as possible. My children are well travelled (notching up backpacker trips around China, Indonesia, Peru, Deep South US, and Finland already) and are generally courteous and interested in learning about other cultures and people. But like all small children they have their moments!

The kind of questions I wonder about are things like -
Is it ok to discipline them publicly when they misbehave (by which I mean a telling off and maybe time out)? Will adult staff be happy to talk to them and answer their questions at museums etc? If they canft manage chopsticks and resort to eating sushi with their fingers will that be incredibly offensive? Can they play games on the trains or should I limit those times to quiet reading only to keep chatting to a minimum? Should they shake hands when greeting adults or is there a more appropriate greeting? Should I pre-warm them to expect lots of photos with strangers as we had in China for example?

Are there any things that westerners commonly do with their kids that are particularly strange in Japan that I should avoid? Any hand tips for traveling with them? We are traveling with light luggage only, on trains and staying in a mixture of family rooms at hotels, traditional home stays and Airbnbs so I think that side Ifm quite comfortable with.

My children are 4, 6 and 8 years old just as way of reference, and our itinerary is
Day 1-3 Tokyo
Day 4 Matsumoto and on to Magome
Day 5 Magome walk to Tsumago then train to Hiroshima
Day 6 Wiyajima island
Day 7 Hiroshima then on to Kyoto
Day 8-11 Kyoto and surrounding area
Day 12-15 Tokyo (visiting friends)

Thanks for any advice!

**Seren**
by Seren (guest)  

Re: Travel with young kids - etiquette tips? 2019/8/10 12:56
Is it ok to discipline them publicly when they misbehave (by which I mean a telling off and maybe time out)?
No problem with scolding in case they misbehave, but I donft know what you mean by gtime out.h

Will adult staff be happy to talk to them and answer their questions at museums etc?
Depends on what kind of museums – there are art museums where they mainly have staff simply watching visitors, and other places that are more interactive.

If they canft manage chopsticks and resort to eating sushi with their fingers will that be incredibly offensive?
No problem at all.

Can they play games on the trains or should I limit those times to quiet reading only to keep chatting to a minimum?
When you say games, like word games and things where they talk? If itfs normal voice level, no problem. Adults chat too. If itfs computer games, keep the sound off/low.

Should they shake hands when greeting adults or is there a more appropriate greeting?
Handshake would be a very gadulth thing to do. I would just bow lightly.

Should I pre-warm them to expect lots of photos with strangers as we had in China for example?
I donft know how it was in China. If thatfs what happened in China and you are OK with it (lots of photos with strangers – I am assuming that the strangers aske for photos together – and possibly getting them on SNS), then thatfs OK.
by ....... (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Travel with young kids - etiquette tips? 2019/8/10 13:56
You can't take photos of strangers.
There is a strict privacy law in Japan and you need to ask for permission from the subject about the purpose of the photo. (Just keeping it as memory or upload somewhere, then when? With what kind of caption?) Photographing without permission is simply a crime.
by .. (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Travel with young kids - etiquette tips? 2019/8/10 14:20
Sushi is finger food anyway. Even you can pick it up with your fingers and no one will bat an eye.
by Gregalor rate this post as useful

Re: Travel with young kids - etiquette tips? 2019/8/10 17:31
@... the OP said photos with strangers, not photos of strangers. It would be from strangers adoring the Caucasian kids.
by ()() (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Travel with young kids - etiquette tips? 2019/8/10 18:36
Great, thanks.

Just to clarify I meant will many people want to take photos of them, not us take photos of others - my children all look virtually identical so tend to attract quite a lot of attention and in China were photographed constantly. It got a bit tiring for them to always have someone grabbing a selfie with them but sounds like this wonft be the case in Japan so thatfs good.

eTime outf I just mean giving the child 5 minutes sitting quietly alone to calm down and reflect on bad behavior before rejoining the family activity. Again doesnft sound like it would be a problem.

And lastly we donft have computer games - we are a low tech family! - so it would be something like a spotting game looking out of the window etc. They arenft too loud and if adults usually chat then they should be fine.

Thanks for the answers so far, any other advice for traveling Japan with kids also very welcome. Thank you!
by Seren (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Travel with young kids - etiquette tips? 2019/8/11 00:16
As a person who has lived in China and Japan, you won't have locals asking you constantly for photos.

Some eyebrows may be raised with the time out - but it's mainly through not understanding what is happening.

Do note that trains can often be a quiet place - specifically if there are grumpy older salarymen trying to get some sleep. In general - my thing is to do as the locals do.

Japan is a much quieter place than China - but then China is it's own unique creature. Being spatially aware can also be important if it's busy. For example - standing directly in the middle of Tokyo Station (not the platform) with heaps of luggage will annoy people. This is not a kid thing - but more a overseas tourist thing moving in large groups. It's an odd thing to say - but traveling on trains has the most pho-pa's and even this should not be a problem if you keep luggage and noise down.
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Travel with young kids - etiquette tips? 2019/8/11 03:05
Will adult staff be happy to talk to them and answer their questions at museums etc?
think the main problem will be language. Itfs unlikely that many people at museums understand enough English to understand children English (they most likely donft understand adults either).

If they canft manage chopsticks and resort to eating sushi with their fingers will that be incredibly offensive?
Actually sushi is eaten with fingers by Japanese adults. They also might use chopsticks but fingers and a normal. For other food you should be able to ask for a spoon/fork in most restaurants to help your kids or even the adults.
What I would say donft go to small izakaya style pubs with your kids. Those are places for lonely, drunken Japanese business men meeting other lonely drunken business men.
But on the other hand side there are family restaurants which are very typical in Japan which could be a nice experience.


Can they play games on the trains or should I limit those times to quiet reading only to keep chatting to a minimum? noise could be a problem (like in most other places) and running around. I would not say that thatfs specifically a Japanese etiquette though

Should they shake hands when greeting adults or is there a more appropriate greeting?
Even for adults it is strange to shake hands. You bow. Thatfs the normal greeting. But as a tourist I canft really imagine a situation where you would bow. Itfs more like a business or generally formal thing. Just friendly smile potential a small bow with your head should all you and your kids need be.
Should I pre-warm them to expect lots of photos with strangers as we had in China for example?
If your kids are super blond and you go to relatively rural parts it might happen. I think it has become much better. But I remember a Finish colleague of mine 20+ yrs ago and his children did get fed up by it. But in normal touristic places itfs not too likely to happen.

Enjoy your trip. And thanks for giving thanks to the community on this forum.
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Travel with young kids - etiquette tips? 2019/8/11 10:13
Hi!

My child has had her picture taken in Japan by strangers several times and a few people asked her to sign something. She is not famous. She has dirty blond hair so she's not all that blond either. I honestly think part of it is, there are just two of us (me and her) and we just seem more approachable vs. other larger groups and blonder tourists. I don't think we had anyone ask for photos this past trip (she's 8 now) but there were definitely places we went where she was given a lot of attention. Most of those places see fewer foreign tourists. To be fair, my daughter has also had Japanese tourists in the US ask for photos with her, so, I'm not the best judge.

If you want your children to learn to use chopsticks there are also special trainer chopsticks as well as children's chop sticks. You could always buy some for your children as both something to use in Japan and as a souvenir. Mine mostly mastered children's chopsticks this past trip.

One etiquette thing to always remember in Japan, is no shoes on seats. If your kids want to put their feet up they must remove their shoes.

I can't speak for China, but rooms in Japan tend to have terrible insulation and sound proofing. So people are expected to keep their voices down in their rooms as well. (This is true of hotels as well as times I've stayed with friend's in their apartments. Single family houses could be better?) We had a difficult time trying to find places where my daughter could practice her violin, because even with the mute, it was loud.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Travel with young kids - etiquette tips? 2019/8/15 00:17
You can get spoons or possibly forks in most places, but if you can get hold of some of these https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/Online-shopping-cleaning-plasti...

or some training chopsticks (the ones with the rings to guide where your fingers go are best, IMHO), then the kids might find them a lot of fun. Our little one loved both of them, and especially the connectors as they made her feel more grown-up.
by Winter Visitor rate this post as useful

Re: Travel with young kids - etiquette tips? 2019/8/16 02:49
And on long train journeys we often passed the time by cutting, sticking, writing and drawing in a travel journal.
We made keeping the family holiday journal our daughterfs holiday responsibility. She loved it and we still dig them out from time to time and reminisce.
by Winter Visitor rate this post as useful

Re: Travel with young kids - etiquette tips? 2019/8/16 09:39
Dear OP

I have a daughter who is thirteen, is half and grew up her entire life in Japan.


Is it ok to discipline them publicly when they misbehave (by which I mean a telling off and maybe time out)?
- No problem, I have done it multiple times, I think some Japanese parents are discipline there children more, but no slapping on the ass :)


Will adult staff be happy to talk to them and answer their questions at museums etc?
- If the staff can speak English, yes they would like to support.

If they canft manage chopsticks and resort to eating sushi with their fingers will that be incredibly offensive?
- No problem, Sushi is mean to eat with hands

Can they play games on the trains or should I limit those times to quiet reading only to keep chatting to a minimum?
- Games are ok, but no sound. Try minimizing chatting since people do not like it. But often Japanese children also talk loudly or walk trough the train.

Should they shake hands when greeting adults or is there a more appropriate greeting?
- Hand shaking is not common in Japan. Just say hello would be sufficient.

Should I pre-warm them to expect lots of photos with strangers as we had in China for example?
- Never saw Japanese taking pictures of foreigners. In China they are doing it often, but in Japan you will not encounter (unless you are a famous person)

Are there any things that westerners commonly do with their kids that are particularly strange in Japan that I should avoid?
- Making noise

Any hand tips for traveling with them? We are traveling with light luggage only, on trains and staying in a mixture of family rooms at hotels, traditional home stays and Airbnbs so I think that side Ifm quite comfortable with.
- Most important is to respect the rules, such as standing for elder people when using priority seats.
- Don't make noise.
- Maybe if you in a park let your children play with Japanese children, they would like
by justmyday rate this post as useful

Re: Travel with young kids - etiquette tips? 2019/8/16 17:31
traveling on trains has the most pho-pa's

Especially in Vietnam, I guess?
by Forum Faux Pas (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Travel with young kids - etiquette tips? 2019/8/16 21:59
Just to add, in trains and buses in Japan, you are advised to completely turn off the sound of all electric devises, including video games. Mobile phone rings should be turned to silent mode and you are to refrain talking on the phone. Chatting between people who are actually there is not a problem at all, except that you are expected not to chat across an isle.

You will also notice "Priority Seats" for people in need, and near those seats, you are expected to turn off your phone or turn them to airplane mode, as a courtesy for those with medical devices planted in their bodies.

I think these are probably the unique aspects of public manners in Japan, apart from the taking off of shoes when placing your feet on areas other than the ground/floor. Sushi is expected to be eaten with fingertips, although many of us Japanese can't help using chopsticks.

Have a nice stay.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: Travel with young kids - etiquette tips? 2019/8/17 02:41
Oh yes, shoes!
Your kids will thanks you immensely, and your travels will be less hassle, if youfre all in slip-on shoes.
Two other fun things wefve done with our little one:
- the 100 Yen shop challenge (everyone gets Y108 and has to buy the best item on a theme)
- collecting the Hello Kitty phone charms that come from each region and show things specific to that region (Hokkaido Kitty as a potato, etc)
To be fair, the second one of those was a hobby of mine before we had a child ;0)
by Winter Visitor rate this post as useful

Re: Travel with young kids - etiquette tips? 2019/8/18 04:48
slip-on shoes

But everywhere you go, you're encouraged not to wear those rubber clogs on escalators, because they tend to get caught and therefore is considered to be dangerous.
by Uco rate this post as useful

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