When you grew up surrounded by western culture coming to Asia will always be a huge cultural shock. East and western culture are really diverse. So let’s talk about the most cultural shocks most people may experience. The Japanese are really polite and if you are going to live in Japan you should get familiar with some of their manners to fit in better and to don’t be considered as rude and ignorant person.
So let’s go and get familiar with some japanese manners:
So when you arrive in Japan I highly recommend yout to already have japanese cash in your pocket. Or to find a closest ATM machine, but with that can be a problem too. Some japanese machines doesn’t accept “international” cards, also some ATMs in some cities closes at specific hour, so is better to have japanese yen by your side from the beginning.
Some japanese shops often accept only cash. When you are paying for the goods don’t leave the change for the cashier as a tip. Tiping is considered rude in Japan because you are devaluing their done work.
So now you already arrived to Japan and bought some quick snack, now we can get to the destination of your hotel. Travelling in Japan can get quite complicated and expensive if you make a mistake by taking the wrong train. So if you can’t read a word in Japanese I highly recommend you to book japanese Rail-Pass, which can be used throughout the extensive JR train network on all four main islands, you can save a lot of money for travelling by train. Rail-Pass can cost you around ¥30 000 and it need to be booked before your departure to Japan. Also another good thing to buy is Pasmo or Suica Card for short-distance train and public transport in cities. Both of cards will be charged with a specific amount of money and it will make your travelling easier, because you won’t have to count how much time it will take you to get your destination and which ticket to buy. Also in Japan is cheaper to travel with public transport, taxis are usually very expensive in Japan.
Also, when you are travelling around japanese large cities is better to avoid rush hours (7-9am and 5-6pm).
So now you have arrived to your hotel in Japan. In Japan people take off their shoes when they are entering a house and put on a slippers or bare foot. Also, be careful to never step on a tatami when you have your shoes on, you can cause high damage to the tatami floor.
Also when you are talking to a japanese person be, careful how you talk to them. Japanese people as I have already mentioned are really polite, so be very careful how you talk and address them especially when you are talking in Japanese. Also in Japan is not so common to handshake. Instead of handshaking bow, maybe before going to Japan it, would be great to learn about their bowing culture. Basically, there are many types of bows in Japan, but most regular are three of them, for easy description the more lower you bow the more respect you are showing. (I will describe the japanese bowing culture in some of my future posts)
So you entered your hotel room and now after long and stresful day, you may have encountered another cultural difference. BATHROOM. The bathrooms in Japan are quite different than the bathrooms in western culture.
Usually In a bathroom you have a bath tub and a shower, but japanese people shower outside the bath to clean their bodies and wash their hair. Japanese bathrooms are adapted because of this they have a darinage channel on the floor so you don’t have to worry about causing a flood. This custom come from a long history, not like in medieval europe japanese people pay attention to cleaness of their bodies and bathed almost daily. Also Japan, unlike any other countries has many public hot baths/springs called onsen. So because you are showering outside of the bath usually there are provided bathroom or toilet slippers, if your room is big enough the toilet and wash-basin can be found in another separated room. After taking a shower you can enter a bath and relax. At japanese home the water in the bath is for the whole family because everyone is entering it cleaned.
Of course in this post aren’t described all japanese manners, but you can look forward my next one.