Below, I’ve put together some of the weirdest facts I could find about Japan. After reading these, you’re going to want to book a trip there and check it out for yourself (^ ^)
We have many strange cultures.For example…
There are specific ways to eat noodles, good practices for accepting gifts, and certain rules to follow to avoid insulting a host.
This complex web of social rules and traditions can be overwhelming for those traveling to Japan, so I compiled a list of some of the things foreigners find most shocking when visiting the country.
Here are some customs you should know before traveling to Japan (^ ^)/
Bowing is an important tradition in Japan that applies to a wide variety of situations from sports to weddings. They vary from slight bows when greeting a friend to a rare deep kowtow for a profound apology.
Seiza is a traditional way to sit on Japanese tatami floors. It’s considered the appropriate way to sit at formal occasions such as rituals at a Shinto Shrine. It’s also widely used in Japanese martial arts where posture may be strictly corrected.
The average person finds seiza challenging to hold for long periods of time. Older people and anyone who isn’t practiced at it find it extremely difficult and are typically forgiven if they need to sit with their legs in front of them.😀
Irasshaimase is the traditional way to welcome customers in Japan that’s essentially an ultra-polite way to say “please come in.” It’s said by staff in Japan when they first see a customer. Staff at busy locations such as department stores might say it thousands of times a day, each time a customer passes.
At izakaya it’s common for all the staff to yell “Irasshaimase!” in unison whenever a customer enters. This can have quite a dramatic effect when done right. Most Japanese businesses take this welcoming phase quite seriously. Staff who welcome customers with an apathetic tone may be disciplined. As a customer, there’s no need to reply to irasshaimase. 😄
Onsen are one of Japan’s favorite pastimes. According to local traditions onsen waters must remain pure and people completely bathe before entering the water. People bring a small towel into the bath area for this purpose.
The towel has been used to wash and shouldn’t enter the bath water. This is a predicament because there’s often no place to put the towels. The traditional solution is to put it on your head. 😆
Kampai is the Japanese word for cheers before drinking. It can literally be translated “dry glass” and has the same meaning as “bottoms up.” Kampai is taken seriously in Japan and it’s considered rude to start drinking before everyone has a drink for cheers.
It’s also considered classy for everyone to order the same drink for the first round in the spirit of comradeship. 😃
Senpai and Kohai, or Senior and Junior, is a relationship that’s traditionally observed in Japanese schools, sports teams, martial arts and companies. It assigns roles based purely on seniority and is strictly observed in many situations.
Kohai, or juniors, may be responsible for menial tasks such as cleaning in order to earn their place in the team.
Senpai, or seniors, are leadership roles in the group with responsibilities such as setting a good example.
In Japan, the number “four” is avoided because it sounds very similar to the word for death. In the same vein as No. 13 in Western culture, No. 4 is extremely unlucky and is used as little as possible. You must always avoid giving anyone something in fours because it can be seen as a very ominous gift.
Elevator labels will often be missing a fourth floor — and in extreme cases, they will not have floors 40 to 49. No. 49 is especially unlucky, as it sounds similar to the phrase that means “pain until death.” The practice of avoiding No. 4 is called “Tetraphobia,” and it is common in many East Asian and Southeast Asian regions.😉
Blowing your nose in public is seen as not only rude, but simply disgusting. Instead people will generally sniffle until they find somewhere private. If you simply must blow your nose, it is recommended that you do so as discreetly as possible.The Japanese are also repelled by the idea of a handkerchief.
Tipping is considered rude — and can even be seen as degrading. Tipping will often cause confusion, and many people will chase after you to give you back your money.
If someone has been particularly helpful and you feel absolutely compelled to leave a tip, I suggest leaving a small present instead.☺️
There are just a few exceptions to this rule, including the fact that it is OK to eat an ice-cream cone on the street. And of course, you can eat something on the special days like firework festivals.😋
For many people who rely on the train to get to work, the idea of it never, ever running late is simply unheard of, except in Japan. They take their transit very seriously, and stringent standards are in place to make sure the trains are always on time.
To give you an idea of a typical delay, in 2012, the average delay at Tokaido Shinkansen was only 0.6 minutes. So yes, it’s a matter of seconds. And when trains are running late, even as little as a few minutes, the conductor will apologize for the delay and the company may issue a “delay certificate” for your boss.🙂
After all, no one would ever believe you were late because of a train delay, not in a country like this.
Oshiya, or “pushers,” wear uniforms, white gloves, and hats and literally push people into crowded subway cars during rush hour. They are paid to make sure everybody gets in and doesn’t get caught in the doors.🙃
If someone in Japan falls asleep with his or her head on your shoulder, it is common practice to just tolerate it. People have very long commutes and work dreadfully long hours, so many will often fall asleep on the train.
There is a tolerance that if the person next to you falls asleep and their head kind of lands on your shoulder, people just put up with it. That happens a lot.😝
It is an honor in Japan to be invited to someone’s home, and if this happens, you must always bring a gift. The gift should also be wrapped in the most elaborate way possible, and lots of fancy ribbons are suggested.
You should also never refuse a gift once offered — but it is good practice to strongly protest the gift at first.😏
Capsule hotels are used as cheap accommodations for guests who purely want a place to sleep. They are used most often by businessmen working or by those who have partied too late and have missed the last train home.
The sleeping quarters are small capsules that are not much bigger than a coffin, and the beds are stacked side by side and on top of one another. The concept has been around in Japan since the 1970s, but it has begun to spread to a few other countries around the world.😁
It’s very cheap, but should be avoided for anyone who suffers from even slight claustrophobia.
Not only do Japanese people not mind if you fall asleep at your desk, they actually think it’s a sign that you’re a hard worker. They even have a special word for such a practice – inemuri😪
Japanese place a high value on hard work and giving your best, and to them, being tired means you’re pushing yourself to exhaustion.
Of course, there are rules to these sorts of things, and the first one is you must sleep upright and look ready to get back to work at any time. And it’s easier to get away with this if you’re the boss. Just kidding 😜