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Dos and Don't in Okinawa 2009/12/4 09:57
Okinawa
In 3 weeks I'm to visit my son and daughter in law, who is from Okinawa, I will also meet my grandchildren (13 and 3 year old) of whom I've only seen pictures. I think I will also meet her family! Help! I'm worried about making a big cultural gaffe! Can someone tell me what would be good to do and what should never be done! What, as a Mother in law, should I do or not do while staying in my daughter in laws home??
Thank you in advance for your help.

by Gloria (guest)  

lots of info available 2009/12/4 15:12
There is screeds of very good information on the internet about Japanese customs and etiquette- have you tries a search at all? Basically if you take your shoes off when you go inside and don't use soap in the bathtub you have the major things covered, and noone will expect you to know every last detail of Japanese etiquette anyway.

Do some research and then come back and ask if there's anything you want clarification on.
by Sira (guest) rate this post as useful

Have a nice stay :) 2009/12/4 21:04
Gloria,

You should be asking that to your son, because he is the one who has already been through that process, especially in that particular family. But as a woman, I can say that it might be nice to offer some help in the kitchen. They might say no thank you, but still the "gesture" to offer help makes the difference.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

Dos and Don't in Okinawa 2009/12/5 10:08
First of all, yes I have done research, that's why I'm on this web site. My son is unavailable to give such info. A woman may be more sensitive to women's roles. Would the customs in Okinawa be the same as the mainlands? Do I understand correctly that there are no hand shakes or hugs?
by Gloria (guest) rate this post as useful

re: Dos and Don't in Okinawa 2009/12/5 17:22
It must be very exiting meeting your son's family for the first time!

I'm pretty sure that there will be handshakes; each time I meet a Japanese relative of my wife, we shake hands as they know we shake hands in Europe where I'm from. Hugging your daughter in law on meeting will probably be a little uncomfortable for her, you can of course hug or kiss your son as is your habit.

Don't worry too much about making a gaffe; make sure to take your shoes off at the entrance of the house and remember to change back to your normal slippers when leaving the toilet. You will probably be asked, in the evening, to enter the bath first. I tried to change that order a couple of time when visiting my in-laws as I didn't feel like bathing yet and that sort of created a panic in the household; ever since that time I go with the flow. ;-)
by Hoshisato rate this post as useful

Up to You 2009/12/6 14:29
Gloria,

Hand shakes and hugs aren't commonly practiced among locals here in Japan, but it's not that you can't/shoudln't do it.

As for me, I love it when Western people shake my hand or hug me or when French people kiss me off the cheek, but it's just that I don't really know how it works, so I don't have the guts to go up and be the first one to do it. I usuallly let the other party come to me.

So when we're both shy, we often end up with no hand shakes nor hugs. But some Westerners are nice enough to gently come up to me and say, "I'm going to do this Western style." and then give me a big hug.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

Okinawans Aren't Alike The Mainliners 2009/12/6 16:32
Gloria,

I have visited Okinawa many times, so speaking from my experience,.. Okinawa will not be a overwhelming experience for you - and don't worry about the etiquette of Japan since the Okinawans are not like the main island Japanese - in fact there are huge differences between the people in the main island itself - so, don't worry about not knowing the etiquette at all - hand shaking is international custom - look at it this way, people in Okinawa are more westernized then any Japanese can be - people their are mellow and more laid back, less robotic & rigid, less hurried to get to & home, lot healthier than all other Japanese,.. do not worry about anything,.. your daughter in-lawn and your son will advise you how to, with in-laws, before meeting them.

Just enjoy the experience and have a magical times with your extended family in Okinawa.

by stanfordgal rate this post as useful

Any more Suggestions on Okinawa? 2009/12/7 13:51
I'd like to thank everyone for their encouragement and suggestions. I'll try to remember about the slippers since that has been mentioned more than once. Lived in Europe, Africa and spent quite a bit of time in the Middle East, I guess that's why I'm so worried about the customs. What is OK in one culture can be a big ''no no'', in another!
by Gloria (guest) rate this post as useful

Okinawa vs tokyo 2009/12/24 17:07
I have to agree with everyone who says things are different in Okinawa.. I live near Tokyo and just came to Okinawa.. I keep fining myself asking Is this Japan??? In comparison to Tokyo area I feel like Im almost back in the USA. Anyway, with japanese customs just be polite and genuinely kind. They`ll get that and the rest will just fall into place. Bring a present to their house.. That will be nice too.
by Dogbert rate this post as useful

following on... 2009/12/26 03:07
Please have a wonderful trip, Gloria!
My advice would be much the same as many already posted..watch the shoes (including the loo!), ABSOLUTELY bring a gift for your daughter-in-law's parents. BUT, do NOT be too extravegent, as that will simply make them embarrassed - it's the thought that counts! SOMETHING SMALL AND PERSONAL IS ALWAYS THE BEST RULE OF THUMB!
On physical affection, most Japanese do love it, even if they don't like it shown in public and it being too overwhelming...so, behind doors do feel free, for example, to give your daughter-in-law a thanks and good night hug before going to bed, or one to her mum when they are leaving at the end of the evening (but do not do it to her dad!)...
Above all, remember that BALANCE is the most important thing...you may want to GIVE a lot, but they may be shy to ACCEPT it...read the signs and give as much as they feel comfortable in receiving...if you can understand what I am trying to say, you will do just great!
All I can say as somebody who has traveled all over the world and finally decided that Japan is the place he wants to settle down in, you will find Japanese people unfailingly gracious, kind and hospitable - and TOTALLY accepting of the fact that you are almost certain to f*ck up somewhere along the line! One of the biggest problems foreign vistors have is trying TOO hard!!!
by furoido2 rate this post as useful

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