It is said that Japanese people are conscientious about public manners. Familiarity with Japanese social rules and manners will help make life easier and more comfortable for you and the people around you. Some important guidelines to note are as follows:
- Be sure to smoke only in designated areas.
- Smoking while walking or while riding a bicycle is strictly prohibited.
Inside a Train or Bus
- Set your cell phones to silent mode and do not talk on the phone. Turn your cell phone off if you are near priority seating.
- Offer priority seating to the elderly, expectant mothers, and the physically disabled.
- Be careful of noise leaking out from your earphones.
- Avoid eating or drinking.
- When it is crowded, do not carry your bag over your shoulder: either hold it in your hand(s) or place it on the rack above the seats.
- Let people get off the train before you try to board the train. If you are on the train and standing near the door in crowded conditions, get off the train briefly to allow other people to leave the train when it arrives at a station.
- Men should not board the women-only train cars (usually the front or back car during rush hour).
In recent years, there has been an increasing number of accidents involving pedestrians and bicycles, resulting in problems that include cases in which compensation has had to be paid. Following are traffic laws related to the use of bicycles:
- As a rule, bicycles should be ridden on the left side of the road, in the same way as cars. If it is dangerous to ride on the street, such as due to heavy car traffic, then riding on the sidewalk is permitted, but pedestrians have the priority on sidewalks.
- Do not hold an open umbrella or use a cell phone while riding a bicycle.
- On crowded crosswalks, get off your bicycle and cross the street on foot.
- Riding two to a bicycle (riding double) is prohibited. For safety purposes, be sure to turn on the bicycle light when riding after dark.
- Even if you receive a used bicycle from a friend, you must be sure to complete bicycle theft prevention registration at your local bicycle shop (¥500 for fee). If the bicycle is not in your name, it is considered stolen and you may be arrested.
Japanese people tend to dislike strong odors. Be careful about the smell of foods in locations other than those designated for food and beverages, as well as the smell of strong incense or perfume.
In Japan, there is no custom of tipping.
Men and women should avoid wearing clothes that are too revealing when visiting shrines and temples, and women might wish to keep a shawl with them to be worn.
If you have an appointment, be careful to avoid being late. Bear in mind that you get to the meeting place five minutes early.
Created: March 30, 2010 / Last modified:November 19, 2012