Essential Japanese Manners

Essential Japanese Manners

Japan is a country that is famous for its manners and etiquette. Using bad manners can lead a number of social faux pas. Here are some tips on some basic Japanese cultural manners and social customs to watch out for in the land of the rising sun.

Tipping —

Tipping is a western custom that thankfully, (as some would say), hasn’t made it to Japan. In western countries like America anyone who performs a service from a barber to a waitress expects a tip for good service. But in Japan they are already expected to give good service, so a tip is seen as unnecessary.

Don’t pour your own drink

When you’re at a party with Japanese friends, do not pour your own drinks. At a party, you are supposed to pour drinks for others and let other people pour drinks for you. You do this, not by asking, but by looking at someone’s cup and seeing if it is empty or full. If it is empty, offer to pour them some more.

Chopsticks

Chopsticks have befuddled westerners for hundreds of years. So here are a few tips. Never stick your chopstick upright in rice. This is way they offer rice to the dead. Never pass food from chopstick to chopstick. This is reminiscent of cremation and how bones are handled during cremation. Never rinse of chopsticks in your soup or beverage. Come on, that last one is just icky.

Presents

In Japan the giving of gifts is very important. When you visit a friend who lives far away or return from a trip to a foreign city, you should always give a souvinor, usually food. This is called omiyage. Omiyage are given to family, friends and coworkers. Basically anyone who knew you were travelling. The omiyage should be something representative of your either the place you just visited, or your hometown. Omiyage are a big part of Japanese culture and definitely something that should be remembered.

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