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things that you shouldn't do in Public? 2005/8/8 09:07
What are things that you shouldn't say or do in Japan that are accepted in the United States or Europe but not in Japan?
by Jared Angle  

Think reverse 2005/8/8 16:07
Generally things not accepted in North America or Europe or anywhere, would not be accepted in Japan.
by .. rate this post as useful

Eating and drinking while walking 2005/8/8 16:38
In Europe and America it is common to eat a snack or drink while walking. Japanese people usually sit down while eating drinking.
by Kappa rate this post as useful

More eating and drinking 2005/8/8 16:53
My Japanese wife indicates that still a lot of Japense people frown upon people eating or drinking in public transport. Eating your bentou or drinking something in the shinkansen, etc., is of course okay, but eating something in the smaller commuter trains or busses is not done apparently.
by Kappa rate this post as useful

In public 2005/8/8 18:23

This subject comes up quite a lot here. Other things I would add are blowing your nose loudly in public. Kissing in public is also generally frowned upon.
Spitting and urinating in public seem to be tolerated if you are a middle-aged man, however. ;-)
by Dave in Saitama rate this post as useful

Nooo! 2005/8/8 22:51
"Spitting and urinating in public seem to be tolerated if you are a middle-aged man, however. ;-) "

I don't think so! (-o-)
by Uco rate this post as useful

what about.. 2005/8/9 05:14
i have actually heard that eating and drinking while on trains and while walking around is frowned upon, but what about carrying a drink around with you? such as a bottle of water, a coffee, or a bottle of coke? this is very much accepted in america on streets and on trains ... is this also true to japan?
by boston eric rate this post as useful

These are some I saw. 2005/8/9 06:02
I just came back from Japan about 4 days ago and I immediately noticed the culture differences.

I was an exchange student so I had the advantage of having a family telling me what to do and what not to do.

Eating and drinking while walking.
Talking loudly.
Acting very strange.
Facial hair is usually looked down upon. lucky me!
Being very high maintainance
Sweating ^_^ nobody sweat at all so carry a rag and an UCHIWA
Looking too different, so if you have very bright colored clothes then go shopping for some duller colors. Being the only one with brown hair, blue eyes and very pale skin within a 50 mile radius was pretty hard. (I was in Akita, but school was the best)
Carrying a map or camera or other tourist devices externally.
Going to tourist places alone, get a friend to show you around that is Japanese.
Opening the door for others
Putting soy sauce on white rice
Drinking a lot of coke or other unhealthy bi-products of American cuisine.
NOT SLURPING It is a sign of showing that the food is good (noodles and soup only, NOT TEA!)
Giving tips is like saying you are better than the person you give it to.
Not having fun!

Basically, don't look like a complete tourist. ^_^
If you go to Akita or any other farming area, enjoy the scenery and check out the cool shops downtown.

phew *wipes sweat* Hope this helps. ^_^
by Kawaii Eban rate this post as useful

eban, are you saying? 2005/8/9 06:30
Eban, are you saying that holding the door for others is a "bad gaijin" thing? And I am confused that you think that going to tourist places alone is "bad." And...carrying a camera? That's how Japanese tourists are recognized in the US (as distinguished from Japanese-Americans, Koreans, etc.)

Otherwise, a very interesting list from a young person's perspective!
by watagei rate this post as useful

. 2005/8/9 07:33
but what about carrying a drink around with you? such as a bottle of
water, a coffee, or a bottle of coke?

It is acceptable as long as the bottle is not yet opened or is tightly
capped and you are not in a supermarket nor a restaurant.

If the drink is something like Starbucks or McDonald's cup, you should
not bring it in public transportations, stores and restaurants.

One more "don't": don't eat nor drink what is sold in supermarkets
before you pay. This seems to be considered acceptable in the US, but
never in Japan.
by meringue4 rate this post as useful

Wowa! done a bunch on that list! 2005/8/9 10:33
1. Talking on the cell phone on the subway trains (doesn't matter outside the train, eg. on the platform is okay).
Cell phones on audible ring, loud in a train is a no-no.
(at least I didn't do that!)

2. Guys wearing anything but white, black, gray or dark blue.

oopsy! guess a bright yellow waterproof rain jacket anywhere in Tokyo if you're not a construction worker is a no-no.

3. Not having an umbrella in the middle of typhoon level downpours.

oopsy! guess that rain jacket didn't help much - was only a light rain, not a gore tex super-duper wet rain jacket. dripping like a wet dog on a subway train is a no-no.

4. shaking your head left and right like a dog to get the rain out of your eyes.

just not done. guess the dogs dont' even like the spray =P

5. eating, drinking, chewing gum while walking anywhere.

just don't see anyone doing it, except the funny foreigners who find it funny that there aren't any public benches to sit and eat lunch on, so we're forced to eat on the run right after we rush out of the local 7-11 store with our lunch =P

6. Leaving the bathroom door open, draining the bath completely, cooling the water down to human(e) levels of hot or cooler, and then forgetting that the water should be nearly boiling hot in a bath.

7. walking inside anywhere with your shoes on in a home/ryokan =P

even mama will beat you with a stick if you do that!

8. tossing trash without sorting it into a bazillion different categories into the wrong trash can.

=P foreigners will find that the best trash cans are near the 7-11 stores that take trash w/o seperation (rare).

9. speaking at full-volume staring straight into the eyes of anyone.

ooooo.... heeeeeheeee... you'll know who's the Chinese speaker right away =P =P =P or even the military guy (will stand too close as well).

10. touching anyone on the body as you talk American style.

Nope, you're not getting any warm hands on your arms in a nice chat with anyone here. motherly types just don't do that.

11. checking out of anyplace, expecting you only need to bring a cash/credit card with you, and not realizing that they're not taken at most places - restaurants, stores, shops, etc., etc. Only the biggest, more 'commerical' stores will take them. But a restaurant even at the huge Tokyo Station mall? Nope - cash only for that bowl of ramen.

Then, holding up the entire line behind you as you explain that you don't have any cash, and are asking where's the closest ATM.

12. from above, forgetting that the local ATM is often far, far, far away from where you are (for travellers for accessible terminals)...

13. walking down any public street in Tokyo (eg. near Tokyo Station) and chatting loudly into a cell phone because it's near impossible to hear the friend on the other side, and keep doing it all the way down the street. Oddly, everyone talks at a quieter level -wonder how the heck do they hear their friends?!?

oopsy! done that while wearing the bright yellow rain jacket and eating on the run =P

14. asking if they'd change their rules and be flexible enough to accomidate your 'special' requests/needs/etc.


most places, the 'rule' is the RULE - fixed, written in stone, solid as can be. it's just so wierd for these 'bots' to be flexible enough to be wierd, period.

15. striking up a conversation with a 'hard-at-work' employee, even those silly girls handing out tissue packs at the corner.

oh, you'd be surprised, but they take these jobs seriously! they've got to meet their quotas, do the same thing every time, and make sure nothing detracts from their job or public 'appearance'.

sigh... =P still have to corner one long enough to find out how much they're getting paid per hour to do this...

16. standing at the very front of an automatic ticket machine for more than a few seconds, trying to decipher the whole thing.

everyone behind you will think you're an idiot, then try to nudge past you in their busy hurry to wait downstairs at the train station, and will just think you're a pain! =P

heeee heee, do this at rush hour anywhere, and watch the reaction around you =P like no patience at all!

17. trying to go into a library on campus w/o the right identification.

oh, you'd think the libraries here were a little strict, oh, boy, those gals at the college libraries will be like border dogs the moment they realize you're 1) not a student 2) haven't checked in at the visitors ation 3) don't have any proper ID 4) can't speak Japanese 5) are asking more than once what are you saying? ''pwes sit ths wy''? until you realize they're asking you to exit this way.

=P Sophia U is a good example =P

18. touching the taxi cab door!

Just step back, son! don't do it!

most of us forget or don't realize they open automatically, and they hate having the motor drive ruined because you're trying to manhandle the darn-stuck door open =P

19. chit-chatting with anyone in a public, offical like position. Unless they're 'open' to it, don't. They hate it, and it's a waste of their time and image.

Not like here where you can get to know everyone and everything in a minute just blabbing at the counter for most officials. But, not to say that there aren't a lot of happy campers that'll chat with you either.

On the other hand, standing in front of a very long ticket line asking a bazillion Q's of the official will also tick him off (and everyone behind you, too). You're supposed to know it all by the time you're up there!

20. bathing anywhere w/o soaping down outside the bath first. Soaping in the bath is an even bigger OOOOOPSY!

I'll just say this - if you can even get yourself into the 'very hot water' of a japanese bath, trust me, it'll get hotter if you soap up in one =P

21. Spitting like a Texan most anywhere. They do it now and then, but it's very uncommon on the streetside.

22. Picking up a fruit (apple, banana, etc.) looking at it, then putting it down, then picking up another, etc. until you've found the 'perfect' one.

Pecking through a handful of apples, etc. just isn't done. At the bigger stores, just watch the poor ladies there on the floor as they look at how 'brusied' those poor $3 apples are =P

You'll spot the picky shoppers fast - they'll be pecking through dozens of apples, etc. to find the 'perfect' ones to take home =P

23. chomping, crunching, slurping, talking, etc. through any movie. You'd be surprised how 'silent' a packed movie theater is -- heck people watching ''2046'' in Ginza was so quiet, you'd think they'd all died! Even moving about and hearing clothes sounds were kept to an absolute minimum!

On the other hand, it was one of the best ways to experience a 'quiet' dramatic film like ''2046''.

24. Trying to ask for 'butter' for that popcorn. Forget it! too smelly, too oily, and too messy! ain't gonna be found, and you'll have to suffer with the too small bag of sealed popcorn =o

25. Not necessarily bad or good - eating at McDonald's, movies, etc. and then coming back to order another whole set after you've finished the first one -- then saying in total surprise! Holy cow! these burgers, sizes, etc, are SO SMAll here in Japan!!!!!

Then, after you've realized you've just spent $10 on McDonalds, Holy! COW!! Japan is expensive!!!!

($20 if you're eating at KFC - $10 for two piece chicken meal the size of a kid's meal =( =( =( =( )

You will be VERY VERY hungry in Japan.....


Related, going anywhere, being treated to some food, then saying ''That's it?!'' in surprise at the paltry servings. And then asking if they've got some more food =P after they've served what they consider to be a full meal.

26. HOGGING the water/shower/etc. and letting the water RUNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN forever shaving, bathing, etc.

thirty minute baths are okay in Japan, but a thirty minute running shower contest?! let's hope whomever's running the ryokan/homestay isn't gonna kill you! You can get away at a modern hotel tho.

27. taking pictures, even w/o flash, at any public even where they're filming a TV news reporter, etc.

walking behind the said reporter and doing 'rabbit ears' with your fingers =P =P

sorry, they just don't accept foolishness like that at all there, and you may even get the cops called on you for that if they get pissed enough.

then again, lighten up =P what's a few rabbit ears =)

they're sense of public space and use means that if it's for a more 'official' filming, taping, etc. you should know better than to interfere.

here in the US, you can go anywhere behind, around, etc, them as long as they don't already have a permit to cordon off the area for taping. public space is just that- public.

oh, and don't go screaming ''Hi!!!!!!!! MOM!!!!!!!'' while doing the rabbit ears either =P =P

28. unless you're trying to get attention, in the right parts of tokyo, etc., showthrough/seethrough tops like some girls wear out here in LA. Although the guys do get to see what bra-of-the-week you're wearing, just isn't done.
same goes for guys - forget the see-nipples look on hot days - gotta wear a top at all times, even a thin tee! going topless for guys will just bend people over backwards in Tokyo =P =P =P (though perfectly legal on a hot day in the States).

29. Above followed to:
No swim/beach wear anywhere but a beach, beachwear section of a dept. store, or unless you've been hired to be a show model for a Tokyo company (in which case, that's all they seem to wear at auto shows, camera shows, etc, etc.).

Walking into a restaurant with a bikini ala Orange County and cute wrap just ain't gonna cut it.

30. Showing up at any company, official function,etc. etc, in anything but a full business suit/dress.

Forget about showing up to big events in shorts + a hawaiian shirt.

31. getting into any crowded train, room, elevator not wearing deodorant 'Canadian' style =P

32. Walking down the street with a cool boombox on the shoulders spinning the latest mixes.

They simply don't take ghetto style, at all.

33. Trying to get more than the allocated amount of ketchup, if any, for the fries/burger/etc.

Odd, but true - it's even hard to do in most of Europe, sigh....

they just don't get 'LATHERED' in ketchup outside the USA =P

34. Go bun-less.

You wanna mess them up - try ordering a burger, no buns (hee, ehe).

35. Go low-rider.

Well, most don't have much of a butt to keep a lowrider jeans on, so you'll rarely, if ever, see that.

So, wanna make them squirm? low-rider and victoria secrets thongs or none. (hee, hee, to an offical function...)

Odd, but so boringly common here in LA.

36. Taking anyone's business card when presented to you, then writing on it what you're trying to remember about them, or even folding it in half to fit the wallet, etc.

come on people! just paper, like money!

37. Writing on money.

forget the or whatever gets scribbled on our notes.

38. Trying to get out of a speeding ticket by saying to the cop, ''I need to get a tampon!'' in a frenzied, rushed way.

Not cute at all (even if you are drop dead gorgeous) to the cops there, and they're not gonna get you anywhere. Don't play with the fuz...

Oddly, works very, very well for a drop-dead gorgeous gal here in LA... (who just happens to have that teary puppy-dog look down pat, too)

39. Staying somewhere and 'rearranging the furniture' to suit your needs. They may not say anything becauase you'll have left after checkout, but oh, boy!

Odd, but they adapt to the situation there; rarely do they adapt the situation to themselves freely.

40. Shaking more than one shake of that odd powdered green tea shaker into your cup because it doesn't seem like enough is coming out to make a cup of green tea.

first, it's very expensive powder.
second, a shake or two is all you need.
third, won't matter even if you and you're friend have already shaked it so many times, the chef is literally screaming in japanese and motioning for you to stop - the green tea still won't be anywhere near as strong as the iced teas you drink at home loaded with sugar & more =P
fourth, it's not a if you need more, take more mentality at the restaurants. it won't matter one bit if you need five extra shakes to make you happy - if they only allow one or two, that's all you get =( =( same goes for most condements....

then again, you can always get more red ginger......

41. blowing bubbles (while drinking boba while walking down the street).

Start blowing bubbles in your boba drink and everyone will think you're a bit off.

42. Ordering a banana split at baskin robbins the size of a 'large' one made here in the USA.

You really want people to go ga-ga? pay for five or six of Tokyo-sized super-mini scoops (you may need more, like eight or nine), and have them try and make a real USA sized banana split (hee, hee). And ask for extra sprinkles, nuts, fudge, cherry, and whipped cream.

Then, down the baby in front of everyone =P

(realize that you've just downed $20+ in ice cream, for a size considered 'normal' in the USA)

43. Sit at Starbucks window front seats, watching the people stroll by under you at Shibuya/wherever, and trying to be 'tourist' and take photos with your camera of the passing street folk.

Oddly enough - patrons can take their coffee there, sit for HOURS and HOURS, play with the cell phones for AGES, read books, etc, - basically hog-the-spot all day long like all the other bored-to-death teenagers around you, but try to do something other than what everyone else normally does and you may just get an employee banning you because that 'bugs' the obviously uninterested patrons sitting right next to you on both sides.

Then, sit and argue the point and make him 'prove' it =P =P =P until the poor guy has totally freaked. =O =O =) over a silly cup of coffee....

44. Cutting your nails in public, anywhere.

Yeah, gross, but if it's out on the street here in LA, well, nobody's really gonna care much because what falls on the street is 'forgotten'.

Oddly, the super-clean streets in Tokyo means everyone's conscious of trash on the ground, so clip away to the dismay of everyone there.

45. Putting on makeup anywhere except in a train.

Oddly, they're starting to 'accept' more of this in a train, but just about anywhere anytime, this will get eyeballs rolling.

Try it LA style, putting on mascara while driving shift, then hose on while driving shift and with one leg on the dash, two hands on the hose, and remember, LA style, so we've still got the other knee under and on the steering wheel so we don't wander too far out of our lanes. (The better LA freeway commuters will be able to steer and chat on a cell phone/eat at the same time. 90mph+ easy.)

Yes, true story. And I thought I could multitask when I saw that gal do the above =O ! makes me weak....

46. Honking asian style to get traffic moving. Oh, lovely how we can honk like crazy elsewhere, but try this in Japan, and the cops may just land on you.

47. Driving well above the posted speed limit LA freeway style on the Tokyo freeways.

Let's just say it's a LA mentality. 15mph over isn't fast, that's normal. 30mph over is fast, but not insane, esp. if you're in a Porsche, two-door Mercedes, etc. Channel 11 fast? well....we know where to tune you in when we get home today =P

48. Chatting on a bike on a cellphone. Just banned in Tokyo, so keep the chatter down because they keep hitting everyone else now and then.

Rare, but true. (I did see two guys hit each other in the middle of the night for no reason w/o cell phone use when I was there, so obviously, nuts. They naturally didn't say much, and just went their ways.)

49. Try to be PC in Tokyo about the stuff they kill to put into whatever meat products/food they have.

PETA tactics just dont' work in Tokyo. bye, bye, whales....!

50. Dropping 'little' debris as you go.

A little cig butt? That crumpled up tiny chewing gum wrapper? etc?

Drop a bit here and there and watch the eyeballs on you. Not at all like LA where cigs tend to drop magically from every driving smoker who has their hand out the window (because they're too lazy to clean a dirty ash tray).

Anyways, hee ,hee ! Wonder which country is 'madder' than the other now, eh? =P
by David =) rate this post as useful

Thanks for your help! 2005/8/9 10:34
Thanks for your fast response! I didn't know about the PDA or eating/drinking on transportation. Thank you.
by Jared Angle rate this post as useful

.. 2005/8/9 11:24
As I mentioned, PDA is looked apon in the USA, I mean really doyou like to see 2 strangers on the street kissing each other.

Also, who ever said holding the door for others is a NO NO is completely wrong. I have held doors open for seniors and others and they have been very very appreciative that I did.

Going to tourist spots alone is a no no? And carrying your camera in the open is frowned apon? Where did you get this information from?

From my first hand experiences NON of those items are frownded apon.

Look the thing is, don't do anything that you wouldn't normally do. If you are kind and polite (ie not screaming or jumping around like a crazy person) you should be fine.
by .. rate this post as useful

Lift/Elevator 2005/8/9 18:27
I have had quite some fun several times by letting the women leave the lift before I do. ^_^ They had to go to the same floor and I, politely as my Mum has brought me up, let them go out first. Big confusion! :-)
by Kappa rate this post as useful

It's not hard 2005/8/13 00:28
If you're not Japanese, you're not expected to be. Just be polite, smile, and be courteous. If you're in doubt about what to do, ask! And of course bowing and plenty of 'dozo,' 'gomen nasai' and 'sumimasen' will usually get you through any difficulty.
by MCS rate this post as useful

gd 2005/8/14 02:52
Don't stick your chopsticks in your rice... it is only done at funerals. You have to lean to balance them over the top of your bowl without them rolling off.

Oh and by the way, there's pretty much no trashcans in Japan... and many of the ones around are taped up so that bombs can't be put inside... it's dumb.
by emtiph rate this post as useful

Behave 2005/8/14 03:12
Whereever you stay, only thing you do is behave yourself.If you go to Japan, you know lots of certain manner you never know. and how do you know except your experience? go there and check how people are doing.
In this case, it's not working in your logical way.
by monkey rate this post as useful

Ok, Ok 2005/8/23 14:37
So the door thing and being a stereotypical tourist isn't neccesarily bad... But people just don't open doors for others in Japan. Whenever some random person was behind me before I walk in somewhere I would open the door and gesture for them to go on. They always stopped, smiled, bowed slightly, did the sumimasen gesture and waited for me to go. We would gesture to go ahead for at least a minute and I would get tired of it and go on in. It was crazy. I eventually just stopped doing it.

Being a tourist gets you a lot of looks. Taking a lot of pictures of things (especially with a flash) kinda bugs them. I travelled through Tokyo in a small gaggle of ryuugakusei (yes, a gaggle :) ) and we took pics of everything. Subways, buildings, post boxes, ramen shops :)... People just looked at us and had this "Gaijin *sigh*" look about them. They seemed fairly annoyed. Going by yourself to a tourist spot is a bad idea cuz
1. You may break something seen as sacred
2. Asking random people for directions as a foriegner is impossible, they WILL brush you off.
3. You look like a dork :) JK
I guess I should have said "Look out!!!" not "Bad"

But that is what I had observed, and my host family took me to every tourist attraction they could find. Some people thought I was a pit crew worker at the International Solar Car Rally in Akita. :) :)

BTW My name is Evan, "Eban" is what they could say and I was "Kawaii" to all of the girls. Thus the name "Kawaii Eban"
by Kawaii Eban rate this post as useful

.. 2005/8/24 09:39
Ah I guess Ihave the benefit of being an American tourist of Asian decent. I don't stand out like a soor thumb.

But on the door topic, I did hold the door open to help a man who was in a wheelchair and his aide. They seemed pretty appreciated by it.
by .. rate this post as useful

.. 2005/8/24 09:42
Well I can understand the photo taking part.

I live in a major city here in the US and we have lots of tourists year round, when someone takes a picture of a train or street and i just ahppen to be in the shot, I'm thinking "Why the heck are yout aking a picture of me" and often thing "ah crazy tourists" I guess the feeling is mutual the same around the world.
by .. rate this post as useful

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