Tokyo, Japan

25 Do's ans Don'ts of travelling Tokyo!

Thursday, 20 July 2017

In Japan there are a lot of unspoken rules that many unconsciously break. To help you avoid some faux pas, here are some Do's and Don's I have noticed whilst travelling Tokyo!



  • always bring a plastic bag! Trash cans are very rare in Tokyo, so you often find yourself carrying trash around. Putting it all in a bag is way easier! Collect it all, and throw away the next seven eleven you see.
  • recycle. After collecting all your trash, make sure not to throw it away in one of the can containers! Recycling is very important in Japan, so don't be afraid to ask for help.
  • bow when people bow to you. It is a simple way of showing respect, that is very important in Japanese culture. It does take some getting used to, but will feel very normal after a while. I even found myself continuing to, the first days I was back in Europe. 
  • say thank you. I have found the Japanese culture to be a very serving, respectful and thankful one. They always go the extra mile to be of service to you, and thank you as they do! You will find yourself saying 'Arigatou gozaimasu' at least 50 times a day.
  • keep your voice down. On the streets, but especially in crowded public places like trains.
  • try the smart toilets! As weird as it seems at first, you will miss them once you leave. And if you are really brave, try the kneeling toilets too. 
  • get used to taking off your shoes.
  • Wear inappropriate necklines. That immediately puts you in the wrong kind of a box in Japanese culture. 
  • use google translate! Not a lot of people speak english, so you need to be able to find your way around! Use the picture option for menus, it will save you from guessing what it is you're eating.
  • go to a super market! You will be surprised to see how clean and organised they are. 
  • slurp your noodles. It is very normal in Japan. Just don't over do it either :)


  • rely on free wifi! It is very rare in Tokyo, as many use portable wifi. You can easily order one ahead of your trip online or once you are here. Check with your host if using Airbnb, they most likely offer one!
  • talk on the phone on the train. You can be one the phone, but do be respectful in keeping quiet.
  • smoke! Don't smoke in public places it is prohibited. Go to the designated areas.
  • Open or close taxi doors. Drivers do that for you with an automatic button. 
  • tip. It isn't the norm in Japan and might even be seen as rude.
  • be confused by people wearing surgical masks. They are most likely trying to pass a cold. Even try wearing one if you like, it's kind of fun!
  • jaywalk. You will quickly see that in Japan you stick to the rules given to you; even in the small things.
  • expect to pay at the table. You either pay as you leave, or get a ticket in a machine for your food before eating. 
  • bag your items after paying at a store. The cashier will do it for you.
  • stick your chopstick in rice. It actually is a sign at funerals!

Also, when visiting temples:

  • Wash: In front of Shrines you will see a water source. Before entering, use the ladles to wash your hands, arms and mouth. Be sure that the 'dirty' water does not go back into the source.
  • Lower your head when walking through the gates.

Now with knowing these basic rules, have fun travelling Japan and enjoy the culture! Be open to the difference and embrace the culture shock! :)

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