What Not To Do in Tokyo

May 31, 2012 by

Local Guides, Local Recommendations, Things To Do, Travel Tips

Don't forget your table manners in Tokyo!

Don’t forget your table manners in Tokyo!

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.

- Emma McMahon


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One Response to “What Not To Do in Tokyo”

  1. Lucy | gapyeardotcom Says:

    Thanks for the heads-up, i had no idea about the placement of chop-sticks.

    I plan on visiting soon


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