• Another scrumptious episode of Bulbacast has been uploaded to YouTube. Watch it here. I hope you don't feel desserted after watching this one.
  • Hello all! The forum staff have introduced a new rule set. We've reduced the number of rules, made trick language easier to understand, and have hopefully simplified the rules to make understanding them easier. Please have a read over the new forum rules here.

The Japanese Culture Thread

Proud Pokeservative!
Joined
May 26, 2012
Messages
1,844
Reaction score
4
Re: Japan Dos and Don'ts

Dont drive a Big old chevy Suburban over in Japan unless you are a driving expert because the streets are super small and you may have a few mini cars flattened in your path. Though i have seen a few chevy astro and ford E-series vans over there which in a way can contradict its self on that only small cars are over in japan....

alos It isnt recomended that you honk your horn exept in life or death situations. guess im not going there then.....
 
Last edited:
Lovely
Joined
Jul 12, 2011
Messages
14,007
Reaction score
3,368
Re: Japan Dos and Don'ts

You don't share an umbrella with someone unless you are really really close friends, or there's an obvious reason I think. There's this term called Aigasa, and while it literally means to 'share an umbrella', it also points out that the two people sharing the umbrella are in a relationship - or at least like each other.

So if one doesn't have an umbrella when it is raining, they usually go buy one, not share.
 
Aroma Lady Rose
Joined
Jan 4, 2010
Messages
3,640
Reaction score
7
Re: Japan Dos and Don'ts

Adding on, it's customary to wait for everyone to be served before eating your own meal.[/SIZE][/FONT]
Isn't this the same in the West as well? I'm American and I was always taught that if you're in a sit-down meal, it's rude to eat before everyone else has been served, unless you're the only one who ordered a particular course (like a soup or salad before the main course). Also that it's rude to eat in front of others who don't have anything to eat themselves, at least without offering them something.
 
The Possibly Fake
Joined
Sep 25, 2005
Messages
12,017
Reaction score
191
Re: Japan Dos and Don'ts

I read in a phrasebook that you should never cross your chop sticks, as the only time this should normally happen is after someone has been cremated and relatives are picking out the leftover bones from the ashes, or something like that. Line your cross sticks to be parallel with each other instead.

Also, I hear they prefer people to be clean shaved.

Adding on, it's customary to wait for everyone to be served before eating your own meal.[/SIZE][/FONT]
Isn't this the same in the West as well? I'm American and I was always taught that if you're in a sit-down meal, it's rude to eat before everyone else has been served, unless you're the only one who ordered a particular course (like a soup or salad before the main course). Also that it's rude to eat in front of others who don't have anything to eat themselves, at least without offering them something.
I live in the UK and that's the same here. There are exceptions though, like if you're both having a hot meal but one person's will arrive a considerable amount of time before the others. At the very least, I always wait until someone else has started. In a more formal situation though, I always wait until everyone has been served unless I've been given permission to start.

In regards to shoes, it's interesting to hear that in Japan that rule even applies for businesses. Here in the UK, you always take off your shoes when entering another person's home (or just before, depending on the person), but with businesses you wear your shoes.
 
Official Link Fanglomper
Joined
Feb 15, 2003
Messages
1,105
Reaction score
1
Re: Japan Dos and Don'ts

Adding on, it's customary to wait for everyone to be served before eating your own meal.[/SIZE][/FONT]
Isn't this the same in the West as well? I'm American and I was always taught that if you're in a sit-down meal, it's rude to eat before everyone else has been served, unless you're the only one who ordered a particular course (like a soup or salad before the main course). Also that it's rude to eat in front of others who don't have anything to eat themselves, at least without offering them something.
Well, I sorta was thinking of situations at the time where it's not fully necessary, like maybe if you're having a meal at home with family or if in an informal setting....but for Japan, both informal and formal, seems you're supposed to wait until everyone's dishes have been served. Even in the schools, the kids are not allowed to begin their meals until every single kid in class has been served. Not sure if this is the case with high school, but it'd surprised if they didn't, when they do for kindergarten, elementary school, and junior high school.
 
Denki the Pokemon Breeder
Joined
Aug 4, 2012
Messages
46
Reaction score
0
Re: Japan Dos and Don'ts

I read in a phrasebook that you should never cross your chop sticks, as the only time this should normally happen is after someone has been cremated and relatives are picking out the leftover bones from the ashes, or something like that. Line your cross sticks to be parallel with each other instead.
I'm not sure about that, but I do know you should never put your chopsticks straight down vertically in a bowl of rice, due to funeral ceremonies where they do just that.

Also, and this was just from a magazine I was reading once about buisness trips to Japan, it's a bad Idea to go out in the kimono's that hotels will sometimes give you. The reason why is these kimono's are, for a lack of a better term, pajama's. So you are just walking out into the streets with your jammies on. They aren't meant for going around town or ceremonies.
 
Official Link Fanglomper
Joined
Feb 15, 2003
Messages
1,105
Reaction score
1
Re: Japan Dos and Don'ts

Also, and this was just from a magazine I was reading once about buisness trips to Japan, it's a bad Idea to go out in the kimono's that hotels will sometimes give you. The reason why is these kimono's are, for a lack of a better term, pajama's. So you are just walking out into the streets with your jammies on. They aren't meant for going around town or ceremonies.
In all honesty, I'd be surprised if anyone literally did or even considered doing this. One look at them, and you'll see they're very robe-like and obviously for indoor use. There's nothing about them that even looks like something you'd wear to a ceremony or a festival. When I first saw them, the thought to wear them outside of my hotel never even crossed my mind, and I didn't have the prior knowledge of not doing so beforehand either. It just seemed obvious.
 
New Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2010
Messages
285
Reaction score
0
Re: Japan Dos and Don'ts

To be honest, if you don't look Japanese then any eccentric behaviour will be brushed off as just part of your foreign-ness. Japanese people will generally forgive any cultural faux pas so long as you act apologetic and say sumimasen a lot.

One thing that goes hand-in-hand with never wearing shoes indoors is never going barefoot outdoors. Both stem from the idea of keeping the dirty outside separated from the clean inside of a house - and if you don't wear shoes outside, you have nothing to take off to keep the inside of the house clean.

When you put down your chopsticks, rest them on a holder on a table or across the top of your dish. Don't leave them with the ends stuck or sitting in the dish; this is only done when leaving rice for dead people and so is considered poor manners and bad luck. (Related tip: if you're given disposable chopsticks, you can fold the paper wrapper into a little rest to put your chopsticks down on.)

Never pass food from one set of chopsticks to another. If you want to share, either place food on someone else's dish or take it directly from their dish. Passing between chopsticks only happens when you are passing bones around after cremating the dead, so again: bad manners and bad luck.

When in an izakaya, it's completely normal to call SUMIMASEN! across a crowded room to get the attention of the staff. Less so in restaurants.

I guess I should've mentioned that you don't pour anything over your rice, if the rice is a dish by itself. For example, a plain bowl of rice...but let's say you have Curry rice, of course you'd mix the curry and rice together.
That really depends. There are a lot of meals where it's totally normal to put bits of your meat/veg/whatever on your rice and eat it together. And plenty of Japanese people will put sauce or furikake on their rice. I have one Japanese friend who loves to mix mayonnaise into her rice, then eat it with nori. (She convinced me to try it once and it was surprisingly good!)

Also, and this was just from a magazine I was reading once about buisness trips to Japan, it's a bad Idea to go out in the kimono's that hotels will sometimes give you. The reason why is these kimono's are, for a lack of a better term, pajama's. So you are just walking out into the streets with your jammies on. They aren't meant for going around town or ceremonies.
lol... those are yukata, and yes, they're basically pyjamas. You can buy nicer yukata for outdoor wear though - they're the standard outfit for fireworks festivals in the summer.
 
New Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2012
Messages
16
Reaction score
0
I know this place hasn't been posted in awhile, but I was wondering... what are the exact "do's and dont's" of chopstick etiquette?

The subject seems really untouched upon on a lot of blogs I read. Pretty much a lot of people are like "I'M A FOREIGNER I DON'T CARE JAPANESE PEOPLE DON'T CARE COS I'M FOREIGN" but I'd rather be very polite because in nature I am.

Also I've always been very curious.
 
Official Link Fanglomper
Joined
Feb 15, 2003
Messages
1,105
Reaction score
1
I know this place hasn't been posted in awhile, but I was wondering... what are the exact "do's and dont's" of chopstick etiquette?

The subject seems really untouched upon on a lot of blogs I read. Pretty much a lot of people are like "I'M A FOREIGNER I DON'T CARE JAPANESE PEOPLE DON'T CARE COS I'M FOREIGN" but I'd rather be very polite because in nature I am.

Also I've always been very curious.
Well, what's polite in one person's culture maybe rude in another. I was actually scolded for something I was doing that was considered "rude" when back home, it wouldn't be, but never mind that for now.

Only thing I can think of as far as chopsticks go is to not point with them. If you're passing food with them, use the other end of them, not the side you eat from. Do not stick them down straight into a bowl of rice. If you have to put them down for some reason, just set them on your holder as opposed to sticking them down into a bowl of rice (for instance). That's about all I can think of right off. Maybe someone else can think of something else.
 
The one once known as Alphaphlare
Joined
May 7, 2010
Messages
3,155
Reaction score
596
Re: Japan Dos and Don'ts

It is to my understanding that you are to treat random business card you get from people like a collector treats there collection extremely delicately. And crushing someone's business card is the ultimate ultimate insult. Not sure if this true though.
 
Official Link Fanglomper
Joined
Feb 15, 2003
Messages
1,105
Reaction score
1
Re: Japan Dos and Don'ts

It is to my understanding that you are to treat random business card you get from people like a collector treats there collection extremely delicately. And crushing someone's business card is the ultimate ultimate insult. Not sure if this true though.
I'm going to assume this is true. Most people here carry business cards to trade, and thus, most have business card holders not only to hold their own cards, but to be able to take others.
 
New Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2010
Messages
285
Reaction score
0
Re: Japan Dos and Don'ts

It is to my understanding that you are to treat random business card you get from people like a collector treats there collection extremely delicately. And crushing someone's business card is the ultimate ultimate insult. Not sure if this true though.
I'm going to assume this is true. Most people here carry business cards to trade, and thus, most have business card holders not only to hold their own cards, but to be able to take others.
Business card exchange is a big thing if you're at a conference, business meeting, formal dinner... anywhere you might make any kind of professional contact. If you're offered a business card, it's polite to take the card with both hands, look it over, and put it carefully in a case/wallet/pocket. Don't just grab it and stuff it wherever. Crushing someone's card isn't "the ultimate ultimate insult" but it would be considered pretty rude.

Also, if you're living and working in Japan you should have some of your own business cards made up. A lot of places will do them in Japanese on one side, English on the other.
 
is back for 2014
Joined
Apr 14, 2012
Messages
874
Reaction score
2
Re: Japan Dos and Don'ts

Dont drive a Big old chevy Suburban over in Japan unless you are a driving expert because the streets are super small and you may have a few mini cars flattened in your path. Though i have seen a few chevy astro and ford E-series vans over there which in a way can contradict its self on that only small cars are over in japan....

alos It isnt recomended that you honk your horn exept in life or death situations. guess im not going there then.....
There are even some American cars in Japan. The drivers drive them as usual but the streets are small. Except the Bayshore Expressway (Wangan).
 
Caffeinated Pufferfish
Joined
Jun 28, 2013
Messages
54
Reaction score
0
Why are the dogs named Alexander? I mean, in a lot of anime and stuff, most of the pet dogs are named Alexander...
Several years ago in Japan there seemed to be a trend of giving dogs common Western names. There's a rather obscure (and very sad) song about the life of a dog named John, which was also a very popular dog name. The trend has continued somewhat, with "Leo" being the top name for male dogs in Japan at the moment.
 
Thesaurus rex
Joined
Jan 2, 2010
Messages
6,012
Reaction score
1,721
Can anyone tell me about onsen etiquette/tropes/connotations etc? I'm considering writing an onsen scene in my fanfic, and since I don't like referencing a culture if I don't really understand it, I need more info on it. I've had a look around online and I've read plenty of "foreigners guides" to onsen, but they're a bit thin on the culture beyond the basic do's and don'ts. I'm especially interested in mixed-gender onsen and the culture around that.

Any help is much much (much) appreciated!
 
Official Link Fanglomper
Joined
Feb 15, 2003
Messages
1,105
Reaction score
1
Can anyone tell me about onsen etiquette/tropes/connotations etc? I'm considering writing an onsen scene in my fanfic, and since I don't like referencing a culture if I don't really understand it, I need more info on it. I've had a look around online and I've read plenty of "foreigners guides" to onsen, but they're a bit thin on the culture beyond the basic do's and don'ts. I'm especially interested in mixed-gender onsen and the culture around that.

Any help is much much (much) appreciated!
I can't say much for mixed baths, as I've never done one, but I'll try to be helpful here. I think with mixed onsen, they can remain wearing towels....but I could be wrong in this regard.

Some onsen do have certain rules you must follow, like for instance, before entering the water, you must thoroughly clean yourself, and this includes washing your hair, but of course there are exceptions (I keep mine wrapped up because of the type of style I wear). Like shower and this is all public too, so if you don't shower, I'm sure many people would notice and possibly complain.

You are allowed a small courtesy towel when going into the actual onsen water, but you must never let your towel touch the water. You can fold it and leave it on the side or fold it up and set the towel atop your head.

Your must never let your hair touch the water. If you have long hair, tie it up. Also, you probably shouldn't swim around either. Just pick a spot, sit, and relax.

If you have cuts and such, you shouldn't really use the onsen and for women, if it's "that time of the month", you probably shouldn't use it either. Kinda gross, don't ya think? ><

You shouldn't stay in too long, or else you could overheat and pass out, unless you have a high tolerance for it. Most western foreigners have a difficult time coping with the temperatures of the waters since it's much hotter than what we're used to.

For some places, they ban anyone who have a tattoo. The gym I go to don't allow those with tattoos to use their facilities or their bathing facilities. Now if you're staying in like a Ryokan or something like that and you have a private onsen you can use, it probably wouldn't make a difference, but a public one, more than likely they wouldn't let you, unless you can find a way to cover it up...like with a bandage.

Tattoos are a taboo subject here. It's associated with the Yakuza (Japanese mafia) and some people still have an old-fashioned way of thinking. The younger generations and the ones coming up don't care as much, but the older generations more than likely still do, especially the super prideful ones. The younger generations understand that it's just art. Banning those with tattoos is a way to appease to them. Some places are a bit lenient with this, though, especially with foreigners since for us, tattoos don't have a negative connotation.

Okay, that's about all I can think of right off about onsen etiquette. Hope it helped a little, and sorry about my lack of knowledge dealing with mixed onsen/baths. I can do regular onsen visits, if the opportunity presents itself, but I'm still rather prudish over the idea of doing a mixed one.
 
Last edited:
Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2013
Messages
1,038
Reaction score
126
For some places, they ban anyone who have a tattoo. The gym I go to don't allow those with tattoos to use their facilities or their bathing facilities. Now if you're staying in like a Ryokan or something like that and you have a private onsen you can use, it probably wouldn't make a difference, but a public one, more than likely they wouldn't let you, unless you can find a way to cover it up...like with a bandage.

Tattoos are a taboo subject here. It's associated with the Yakuza (Japanese mafia) and some people still have an old-fashioned way of thinking. The younger generations and the ones coming up don't care as much, but the older generations more than likely still do, especially the super prideful ones. The younger generations understand that it's just art. Banning those with tattoos is a way to appease to them. Some places are a bit lenient with this, though, especially with foreigners since for us, tattoos don't have a negative connotation.
Tattoos bother people in western countries aswell, it's quite well known in New Zealand that white people don't think well of people with tattoos as complaints from Pacific Islanders and Maori about being discriminated for having tattoos are common. For them its a cultural thing but the white people associate it with gangs and thugs.

alos It isnt recomended that you honk your horn exept in life or death situations. guess im not going there then.....
That's what the horn is for. Not many people are aware of this, but the ways people use them in western countries (e.g. honking as you pass a friend) are actually illegal and (on rare occasion) you can be ticketed.
If you think you would struggle to only use your horn when appropriate, it might be a good idea to check out this link: www.stophonkaholism.com
 
Last edited:
Top