Culture

Things That Aren’t Considered Rude in Japan

Jul 23 2019 By Sriya

When we think about Japan and Japanese culture, we consider it quite different from that of the rest of the world.

This could be because of how well they hold onto old traditions, and the lingering samurai spirit that affects Japanese daily life and thinking.

In a country with a unique culture like Japan, definitely visitors can feel daunted by the rules and social norms.

Foreigners visiting Japan are not expected to be familiar with Japanese etiquette, but knowing few basis is necessary to adopt local customs.

Henceforth, if you are planning a trip to Japan, there are few do’s and don’ts you should know.

In a country bounded by norms and values, you may be surprised to find some things you think as offensive at home are perfectly ok in Japanese Culture.

Here, in this article we bring you some of the things that aren’t considered rude in Japan.

Slurping Noodles

On our list of things that aren’t considered rude in Japan, slurping noodles comes first.

Making a lot of noise while eating is often considered as childish behavior if done by adults.

You would think of a small child doing it before it’s trained out of them by their parents.

Making a loud noise while eating can cause disturbance or even inspire nausea for people around you.

However, in Japan, if you visit a noodle shop, particularly a ramen restaurant, don’t be surprised to hear the noise.

There is a belief in Japan that slurping ramen noodles sucks cool air into your mouth along with the noodles.

The ramen comes straight from the hot broth. Therefore, the slurping helps the air to not burn your mouth.

Slurping is also a sign to say that you are enjoying the noodles very much. It’s equal to saying “mmm!”

Yelling in a Restaurant

In western countries, we find yelling quite rude. Hence, we try to quietly catch the eye of wait staffs and patiently wait for service.

However, in Japanese culture, you’ll often hear people shouting at the waiters in a restaurant instead of using the word “Excuse Me!”

It’s considered a fast and easy way to get the waiter’s attention, and it’s actually one of the behaviors that embraces others.

Shouting in restaurants is quite common in Japanese culture, especially in informal eateries.

Not Maintaining Eye Contact

In western countries, people are taught to maintain eye contact while talking with someone.

It shows your respect, confidence, and interest on the other person’s conversation.

However, in Japanese culture, maintaining too much eye contact can make people feel uncomfortable.

They will look at each other if they are seriously discussing something important or they are very close, but eye contact is minimal.

Just remember that if you’re chatting to someone in Japan and they start looking down or another area of the room, that’s completely ok.

Not Tipping

In many countries, walking out of a restaurant without leaving a tip is considered insulting to people.

However, in a country so much into respecting their norms and values, not tipping can be quite surprising.

You should never try to leave a tip because you’ll just be met with confusion or the assumption that you made a mistake.

Waitstaff and other workers are paid right amount in Japan, hence tipping is not expected in Japanese culture.

If you do so, they may consider you can questioning their dignity and showing them pity.

Squeezing Onto a Crowded Train

If you live in a large city with a metro, you might feel uncomfortable to get on a train full of people.

There might be one or two people who are in a massive hurry who might jump on, annoying other passengers.

However, in Japanese culture, don’t be surprised to see people force their way onto trains even if they already look ready to burst.

It’s surprising that in a country where eye contact is considered embarrassing, people are ready to push each other.

During rush hour, it isn’t unusual to end up completely squashed, unable to even move your hands to take out your phone.

Asking Someone’s Age

Asking someone his/her age is a no-no thing to do in western countries. It’s totally unprofessional and embarrassing for people.

In western countries, asking someone above age of around 25 is quite rude, especially if the informant is irrelevant to the conversation.

However, in Japanese culture, it’s not surprising to ask your age when you’ve just met.

In addition, when interviewing someone on TV, they also have their age next to their name in brackets.

So, don’t take offense if you’re asked how old you are when dealing with Japanese culture.

Not Introducing the Person You’re With

When you are in western countries walking with your partner and you bump into someone you know, introducing each other is extremely necessary.

If you don’t, it’s considered rude and people start to question your character, behavior, and also start bitching about you.

However, this is quite opposite in Japanese culture. It’s not compulsory for you to introduce your partner to someone else every time.

Apparently it is considered too assertive and doesn’t make sense to introduce someone ho the person will likely never meet again.

Being Indirect

Being indirect is also one of the things that aren’t considered rude in Japan.

In western countries, people preach about wanting others to be completely honest even if it hurts.

Being indirect by skipping around the subject and dropping hints is completely rude.

However, in Japanese culture, people don’t want to hurt other’s feelings by telling the truth. So, they end up lying.

Even saying “no” to an invitation takes lots of time for Japanese people. In Japanese culture, smiling slightly is a way to say “no” in an indirect and polite way.

It can be difficult to deal with, but remember that’s not rude. It’s just the way Japanese culture is followed.


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