Japan is one of the most popular destinations for travel in the world. It is a place where tradition and original architecture can be found, but also a place full of innovation and technology, so there is really a lot to be seen. Japan also has a relatively low crime rate and is accessible all year round, which boosts its popularity for tourists. If you’re interested in going, here are some things to know.
Japan is an extremely clean country, and this is partly due to the fact that people just don’t litter. (You shouldn’t either, it’s highly frowned upon.) This attention to cleanliness is also why people remove their shoes so often. Some stores will even request that you remove your shoes before you enter, since the shoes are seen as very dirty and too much so for indoors. Always wear a clean pair of socks underneath your shoes, because they will be seen quite a bit.
Despite the attention to cleanliness, you will not always be able to find a trash can. This is because some areas are so busy that it’s actually dangerous to have them there. Hold onto your trash until you can find one, or even better, a recycling bin.
You might be interested to find that a lot of Japanese people are quiet even when they are outdoors or riding on public transportation. You should match the noise levels to those around you and not speak out or be loud when other people are being quiet.
Manners in general are considered extremely important in Japan, so expressing thanks is very important. When you dine out there are some customary phrases to use before and after the meal, and it’s considered important to eat every last bite on your plate to let the chef or host know that you enjoyed the meal. To not finish is considered an insult. Pointing at things is considered rude and you should instead just gesture to them, and never ever pass anything at the table with your chopsticks. The Japanese have a “bone picking” ceremony at cremations where the bones are picked out of the ashes with chopsticks, so they don’t like to bring up those memories at dinner.
There is no tipping in Japan so don’t be alarmed when no one will accept your tips. They just believe that extra money should not be an incentive to do a good job to begin with, and they are paid a living wage for their jobs to begin with. The culture is still mostly cashed based, so it’s a good idea to get money out before you go. Credit cards are not accepted at many places.
Getting around is pretty easy on the subway, even though it can look extremely complicated. There are the occasional maps posted in English, and many of the subway cars will also announce the stops in English so you can follow along pretty well. It seems like there are a lot of things to remember about how to behave in Japan, but some of it will become second nature pretty quickly when you are immersed in the local culture.