To save you from embarrassment and to avoid offending the locals it is helpful to understand a country’s culture before visiting. When that country is as unique as Japan, a little understanding goes a long way! That’s why we’ve put together this list of what not to do in Tokyo.
Planning a trip? Browse Viator’s Insider’s Guide to Tokyo.
When in Tokyo DO NOT:
- Get angry when a Japanese granny elbows you out of the way to board the train. It’s every man, woman and old-timer for his or herself when it comes to public transport in Tokyo.
- Enter a public bath (onsen) without first giving yourself a thorough scrub down.
- Leave your chopsticks sticking face-up in a bowl of rice. This symbolises death.
- Pass food from your chopsticks to someone else’s chopsticks – its considered very bad manners.
- Gesticulate with your chopsticks.
- Pour your own drink first. Always serve others before yourself.
- Arrive without a gift if you’re invited to dinner or to someone’s house.
- Stand still in the middle of the Shibuya intersection! Just go with the flow or risk being run down by a car or even by human traffic.
- Ignore the free tissue giveaways – you’ll be sorry you did when you need to relieve yourself and there is no toilet paper in sight.
- Look away or act embarrassed when someone bows to you. Just return the greeting in kind or politely nod your head.
- Eat while walking on the street or in shops.
- Talk on your mobile phone when using public transport. Text instead.
- Turn up late to an appointment. Arriving five to ten minutes early is commonplace.