10 Things Tourists Should Never Do In Japan

Japan is a country where manners and respect intertwine delicately yet firmly. When visiting this beautiful country, avoid participating in disrespectful and rude acts. Doing so can upset locals and make your trip not as grand and entertaining as you’d hoped for. 

Be polite and well-mannered by NEVER doing these ten things. 

1. Never Eat While Walking Or On A Train

Eating inside train_deposit
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One of the last things you want to do while visiting Japan is offend locals. Traveling in Japan is heavily dependent on trains or walking. 

In anime, scenes often depict a character rushing to school or work with food in their mouth. This is not a common sight in Japan. Instead, it is frowned upon. There are designated eat-in spaces in Japan to enjoy your food after grabbing a much-needed meal at the different food stalls and such that we recommend using instead. 

2. Never Take Phone Calls On The Train

Woman using mobie inside train
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As mentioned earlier, traveling by train is popular for locals and tourists. Because of this, there are set rules of etiquette to follow when taking the train in Japan. Eating on the train is one example. 

Another example would be taking a phone call on the train. Rather, if a person riding the train receives a call, they will instead answer the call, quietly inform the person that they are on the train, and will call them back later, and the passenger will hang up the call.

Train announcements will often request passengers put their phones on silent to deter any noisy incoming phone calls from disturbing other passengers. 

3. Never Jaywalk

Woman Jaywalking
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It might seem appealing sometimes, especially if a traffic light takes too long, but do not jaywalk in Japan.

Jaywalking is illegal in Japan. Safety is heavily emphasized in Japan. Ignoring traffic laws can endanger you and others. If you are caught jaywalking while visiting, police officers stop and fine you. 

4. Never Tip For Service

Waitress getting tipped
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In most other countries, like America, not tipping is widely frowned upon and considered rude. Unlike most other countries, Japan does not allow tipping for services. 

Company policies in Japan do not allow employees to accept tips and, instead, can cause the employees you are trying to reward for good service in trouble. It is not unheard of for a waiter to chase down a customer to return a tip!

Note that some businesses do have labeled tip jars where tipping is accepted. In any other case, save the tip for a souvenir to take home with you. 

5. Never Wear Your Shoes Inside A House

Wearing shoes at home
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Probably one of the more well-known “never do this” etiquettes of Japan is wearing shoes inside a house. This is seen as disrespectful, dirty, and rude. 

Japanese homes feature a design called a “genkan”, an area where visitors and the like can take off their shoes and put on indoor shoes called “uwabaki”. This setup protects dirt from being brought into the household. 

You may find other businesses that feature a genkan during your travels, like restaurants or onsens. 

6. Never Stick Your Chopsticks Vertically In Rice

Woman eating with chopsticks
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One of the tableside manners in Japan, other than saying “itadakimasu” before eating a meal, is never sticking your chopsticks vertically in rice. 

Unsurprisingly, there are “chopstick” taboos to consider when visiting Japan, like licking the tip of the chopsticks. This action is regarded as a reflection of your personality and means you are a selfish person. 

Sticking your chopsticks upwards in rice is another taboo. This action is saved for funerals; doing this outside of one is considered bad luck. Never do this, as it can offend Japanese people. 

7. Never Leave Your Garbage

Man throwing plastic bottle
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Japan is dedicated to cleanliness and sanitary practices. Surprisingly, unlike in countries in America, where trash bins can be found around nearly every corner, Japan does not. Instead, Japanese people will carry their trash until they find an accessible trash bin or even carry their garbage all the way home to throw it out. 

As a tourist, this may seem like a hassle, but respecting other’s space and promoting cleanliness is essential. Please throw your trash out in a designated bin. 

8. Never Smoke On The Streets

Man smoking
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Smoking in public spaces is not acceptable in Japan. It is banned and against the law. 

There are designated smoking areas for individuals looking to light one up in public spaces and streets. These designated spaces are everywhere and easy to find. Smoking in non-designated spaces can result in a fine. 

9. Never Point Your Finger At A Person

angry man pointing finger
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It is considered rude to point your finger at a person in Japan. It is seen as disrespectful and confrontational while singling out an individual. This can be extremely discomforting for the person being pointed at. 

Japanese culture relies heavily on respect and politeness. Please respect the native culture while visiting! 

10. Never Carry Only One Form Of Payment

Woman traveler using credit card
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When visiting Japan, bringing along multiple forms of payment is highly recommended. Credit cards are not accepted everywhere in Japan, especially in older establishments. Ensure that you bring along cash with you while traveling about the country.

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