Normal behavior in Japan, taboo abroad

Normal behavior in Japan, taboo abroad

TOKYO —

Did you know that in some parts of the world, flashing a thumbs-up is just as bad as sticking up your middle finger? And in Japan, it’s perfectly okay to slurp and make noises while enjoying a meal?

As shown by these examples, what’s considered proper behavior in one country could be considered taboo in another, and as the world continues to shrink, it’s important to understand these cultural differences. In order to help prevent cultural faux pas while traveling abroad, a recent article on Japanese website Matome Naver highlighted things that are considered normal, everyday behavior in Japan, but are taboo in other countries. Let’s take a look at the list!

Slurping your food

In Japan, slurping your food, especially soup or ramen, is perfectly acceptable. In fact, it’s considered the proper way to fully enjoy the flavor of ramen. However, in many Western countries, the only noise that should be heard at the dinner table is chitchat and the clanking of silverware.

Taking pictures without asking permission first

Many people are uncomfortable having their picture taken by random strangers. Some are fine being photographed, but would appreciate being asked first instead of being treated like an animal in a zoo. However, Japanese tourists are notorious for taking pictures of people and personal property without asking permission. This problem is so prevalent and Japanese tourists have gotten themselves in trouble while abroad so often that many travel guidebooks in Japan warn potential travelers to ask permission before snapping a photo.

Arriving for an event too early

In Japan, if you aren’t at least 10 minutes early, you’re late. However, in other countries, showing up to a party too early could be considered rude to the host who is still preparing for guests. In some countries, the start time of a party could even be considered a general guideline of when to arrive. Many Japanese have learned this unwritten rule the hard way while living abroad, sometimes being the only guest at a party for the first half hour.

Giving the thumbs-up sign

In Japan and the Western world, a fully extended thumb is the sign of approval. In the Middle East, and western and southern Africa, however, the thumbs-up sign is used to express distain or contempt, the equivalent of giving the middle finger in Western countries.

Chewing gum

In Japan, the shelves of stores are filled with many different flavors of gum and those who need to freshen their breath are free to utilize gum to get the job done. However, even bringing gum into Singapore as a tourist for personal consumption is illegal and violators of this rule must pay a fine.

Blowing your nose in public

It’s generally considered bad manners to blow your nose at the dinner table at a restaurant, but okay in other public areas. However, Japanese tourists in England who have blown their nose in public commented that they were met with looks of disgust.

Sitting in ‘seiza’

In Japan, sitting in “seiza” (sitting with legs folded under one’s buttocks), is literally translated as “proper sitting.” However, in Korea, sitting in “seiza” is known as the “prisoner sitting style” and is widely considered a way to bring your guests much pain.

Taking off your shoes while sitting in a chair

We’re not sure which country Matome Naver is referring to, but they suggest that sitting in a chair while taking off one’s shoes to be bad manners while abroad. We don’t have any idea which country this action is taboo in. Has anyone heard this before?

Knocking on the bathroom stall

Another interesting one. Matome Naver suggests that in the US and Europe it’s impolite to knock on a bathroom stall to check if it is open. They say it’s like saying, “Hurry up and get out!” and shouldn’t be done. Instead, they suggest jiggling the doorknob before entering a bathroom stall.

Eating all of the food on your plate

In Japan, children are encouraged to eat every last scrap of food, including grains of rice, before being excused from the table. But in China, it’s polite to leave some food on your plate as an acknowledgement of the host’s generosity. If all of the food is eaten, it’s a sign to the host that there wasn’t enough.

Source: Matome Naver

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  • 17

    Yubaru

    In Japan, if you aren’t at least 10 minutes early, you’re late.

    I stopped after this line and will read the rest later. This TOTALLY depends upon where you live. It bugs the heck out of me that JT publishes articles that seem to be Tokyo-centric and use them as the basis for EVERYTHING in Japan.

    Where I live if you are 10 minutes early some people might look at you if you have three heads and come from a alien planet.

  • 1

    Yubaru

    However, Japanese tourists are notorious for taking pictures of people and personal property without asking permission. This problem is so prevalent and Japanese tourists have gotten themselves in trouble while abroad -

    FYI NOT just abroad but IN country too! Japanese tourists coming down here to Okinawa often times take pictures in the strangest of places and some folks here get pissed off at them too. I've seen it in mainland as well.

    When it comes to taking pictures many times some Japanese folks are down right rude, whether in Japan or outside of Japan.

  • 5

    sakurala

    I think a lot of people need better photography etiquette, not just Japanese people. But, my father-in-law is the typical take pics of everything, everyone, everywhere and I had to remind him a few times in Canada that it may not be appropriate. He started taking pictures of a little girl on a ferry and I told him to stop while I explained to the child's mother what his intentions were. He is in a photography club and thought the movement of wind in the curly hair was beautiful so wanted to capture the moment. The mother then was very open to the pictures afterwards. Sometimes it just takes a simple explination to ease people's minds.

  • 1

    Maria

    The one about taking off shoes when sitting is unclear how the person is sitting.
    I have seen people take off their shoes in order to sit cross-legged or with one leg up, on their chair (a colleague of mine does this). Parents take their kids' shoes off them, before allowing the kids to clamber around and stand on a train or subway seat.

  • -16

    Kimokekahuna Hawaii

    I dont mind Japanese taking my picture in Hawaii.. if they were to ask everyone in front of the camera while taking a scenic photo that would be worse.. I take public candid photos of people and as long as they dont show identifiable faces or embarass the subject.. I put the fun ones on instagram also every cell phone a camera.. when you are in a public place.. you are being filmed all the time by someone or big brother. What bothers me more is 2 Chinese women shouting a conversation at a coffee shop.. the language is course and not pleasant .. what is wrong with these people? I would not touch anything in a bathroom.. can you not look under to see if it is occupied? Leaving food on your plate on purpose is stupid. I have started to slurp my udon but it can be done without being loud.

    I wonder if it is rude to look at people in the eyes.. in Hawaii it is acceptable to nod your head in polite acknowledgement if you should make eye contact with someone you pass. I think it is rude how girls will walk by you like you dont exist.

    I think it is funny how Japanese cover their mouth when they smile.. I assume it is because Japanese used to have horrible teeth. I like to show my smile.. I smile at everyone it makes me feel good... and some people get the Aloha and smile back.

    I think it is more important in an article like this to point out that in America you need to tip 15%, that taking photos of your food is fun but should be done descretely.. that for women when taking pictures making the peace sign and making kawaii face in Hawaii is silly but not rude... better to do shaka which is a thumbs up and little finger extended to say.. all good, aloha, goodbye, great, fine, hello, arigato and peace.

  • 0

    tmarie

    I don't get this title. It's about cultural difference so perhaps the title could reflect that instead if just focusing on Japan?

    Pictures... I had my picture taken at a place once and lo and behold about two months later I was walking in the area of the restaurant and my picture was on their sign. I did not agree to that and was not happy about it!! Ask permission folks!

  • 5

    Okinawamike

    In Japan, if you aren’t at least 10 minutes early, you’re late.

    Ever heard of Okinawa time? Late is the norm.

  • 8

    semperfi

    DON'T FORGET; Sneezing in public WITHOUT covering your mouth !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ................Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

  • 7

    SauloJpn

    Well if your feet stink, taking off your shoes is very rude anywhere you go!!!

  • -2

    Ichiro20

    Humans are Humans, people are people.

    All these behavior only applies to some people, but for the perfectionist people, all these things matter.

    You see, live like a human not a robot. Don't worry about what people thinks of you, show them who you are and let them accept you when they want to. Don't force yourself to follow rules you don't want. IF they don't like you, don't care, it's their problem not yours lol.

  • 6

    inverse

    However, in Korea, sitting in “seiza” is known as the “prisoner sitting style” and is widely considered a way to bring your guests much pain.

    The Koreans have this one right! Wish Japanese people felt the same way.

  • 8

    humanrights

    It should say, 'did you know that normal behavior anywhere else in the World is Taboo in Japan'

  • 10

    Goals0

    The above says

    It's generally considered bad manners to blow your nose at the dinner table at a restaurant, but okay in other public areas. However, Japanese tourists in England who have blown their nose in public commented that they were met with looks of disgust.

    The original says

    イギリス人は、鼻をすする音が大嫌い。食事中はもちろんですが、レストランだけでなく、公共の場で鼻をすすると露骨に嫌な顔をされることもあります。

    English people don't like the sounds of sniffing. Not only in restaurants, but also in other public places, people will look in obvious distaste at people who sniff (and don't blow their nose.)

  • 3

    tmarie

    The sound if sniffing and snorting is gross. So it the sound if someone swallowing after snorting. Shame the locals haven't figured that out. I come armed with issues to my classes and hand them out. I'm not listening to that all day. It makes for a nice cultural lesson. Same with removing your mask when speaking to someone.

  • 6

    Goodwill_Hunting

    Agree with Goals0. The translation appears to be incorrect. Folks here sniffle like nobody's business. It's horribly irritating and, well, gross! Not that logical prevails much, but wouldn't it be better to blow your nose once rather than sniffle for 15 minutes? I had a co-worker who would rip out a pack of tissue and shove it in people's faces on the train! Bold, but effective.

  • 3

    Dutchduck

    DON'T FORGET; Sneezing in public WITHOUT covering your mouth !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! -

    Yep and don't forget yawning, showing everybody what they had for dinner!

  • 9

    PeaceWarrior

    I think this list should include the hissing sound most Japanese men make when thinking or pondering something.

  • 7

    ratpack

    I know this happens in other countries as well but I've found it to be moreso here......please stop talking while you are eating something.......its disgusting and people really don't want to see what is getting mulched in your mouth while you chat away. I find it funny that usually the same people who do this will usually cover their mouths as they use a toothpick!!!!!!! And to the older generation of guys.....stop taking leaks on the side of the footpath on the way home from the pub like a stray dog.

  • 10

    Nessie

    I had my picture taken at a place once and lo and behold about two months later I was walking in the area of the restaurant and my picture was on their sign.

    This happened to me at the post office. It made me feel wanted.

  • 4

    GaroJ

    I think this list should include the hissing sound most Japanese men make when thinking or pondering something.

    I hear that just as much from women and it is massively annoying.

  • 2

    zenkan

    Ah, the "taboo lesson". Quite nostalgic for me. I used to teach adult classes, often for students who would be transferring abroad. The lesson about gestures and customs was always an eye-opener and quite fun. In most cases people are tolerant of social faux pas. Being respectful of the places we visit and the people who visit us is most important.

  • 1

    Mocheake

    Yawning, sneezing and blowing your nose directly in front of people seems to be some kind of art form here.

  • 3

    tapetptape

    However, even bringing gum into Singapore as a tourist for personal consumption is illegal and violators of this rule must pay a fine.

    Not true. As a tourist you can bring up to 2 packs for personal consumption. Also, pharmacies sell anti-smoking gum.

  • 4

    BertieWooster

    However, Japanese tourists in England who have blown their nose in public commented that they were met with looks of disgust.

    I'm sorry, but as a Brit born with chronic sinusitis, I know this is not true. No one bothers about people blowing their noses.

    It's odd that it's OK in Japan to snort the mucus back into your throat.

    I've come across many Japanese people who do this.

  • 5

    BertieWooster

    And, how come it's OK in Japan to blow your nose and then inspect the "product?" I've seen this done many times.

  • 8

    alimel1969

    Another interesting one. Matome Naver suggests that in the US and Europe it’s impolite to knock on a bathroom stall to check if it is open. They say it’s like saying, “Hurry up and get out!” and shouldn’t be done. Instead, they suggest jiggling the doorknob before entering a bathroom stall.

    Then why has my American self been teaching my kids to knock politely on stall doors? Oh right because the Americans I know have also been taught that it is the polite thing to do. Who came up with this garbage?

  • 3

    AKBfan

    Arriving for an event too early

    In Japan, if you aren’t at least 10 minutes early, you’re late. However, in other countries, showing up to a party too early could be considered rude to the host who is still preparing for guests. In some countries, the start time of a party could even be considered a general guideline of when to arrive. Many Japanese have learned this unwritten rule the hard way while living abroad, sometimes being the only guest at a party for the first half hour.

    Nonsense. This is one of the most persistent myths about Japan but is absolutely not true. Both at work and outside Japanese are routinely late for meetings or gatherings.

  • 2

    Probie

    @Goals0

    The above says

    It's generally considered bad manners to blow your nose at the dinner table at a restaurant, but okay in other public areas. However, Japanese tourists in England who have blown their nose in public commented that they were met with looks of disgust.

    The original says

    イギリス人は、鼻をすする音が大嫌い。食事中はもちろんですが、レストランだけでなく、公共の場で鼻をすすると露骨に嫌な顔をされることもあります。

    English people don't like the sounds of sniffing. Not only in restaurants, but also in other public places, people will look in obvious distaste at people who sniff (and don't blow their nose.)

    The worse part is what follow that in the original:

    鼻がむずむずしたときは、思い切って鼻をかんでしまうのが正解。街角のいたるところで、ハンカチで鼻をかむイギリス人を目にするはずです。**

    So, it actually says to blow your nose.

  • 8

    gaijinfo

    Japan - The land of the pretend politeness. People are openly rude, and they cover it up with "it's our culture!"

  • 0

    sighclops

    Slurping - something I've never gotten used to here. Terrible manners regardless (even worse for drinks).

    Just total laziness.

  • 1

    ambrosia

    Kimokekahuna Hawaii: What bothers me more is 2 Chinese women shouting a conversation at a coffee shop.. the language is course and not pleasant .. what is wrong with these people?

    What is wrong with you, posting anti-Chinese and anti-foreigner rants every chance you get?

    I think it is rude how girls will walk by you like you dont exist

    Really? I can't imagine why they'd do that.

  • 3

    No Miso

    The key one which Bertie hints at is the vacating of the nasal and throat passages by phlegming up and spitting it out. I really couldn't believe I was hearing and seeing this when I first came here - it looks totally gross to these foreign eyes. No wonder Japanese take their shoes off before entering the home!

  • 1

    ambrosia

    No Miso: it looks totally gross to these foreign eyes

    To mine too but then again, I always have a hard time deciding which I think is worse, expelling it out onto the road or sidewalk or swallowing it. Yuck! I'm feeling queasy just thinking about it.

  • 0

    BertieWooster

    Arriving for an event too early.

    No danger of that in Okinawa!

  • 3

    BertieWooster

    No Miso - that's the one!

    I've been politely told off - as a "friend" - for making a noise when I blow my nose.

    Yet it's OK to make a noise like a cross between a wild boar in heat and a vacuum cleaner snorting back the nasal juices.

    Inshinjerable!

  • 0

    BertieWooster

    >Matome Naver suggests that in the US and Europe it's impolite to knock on a bathroom stall to check if it is open. They say it's like saying, "Hurry up and get out!"

    There are times when it's more important to bang on a toilet door than suffer the dire consequences of the alternative.

  • -3

    Probie

    Matome Naver suggests that in the US and Europe it's impolite to knock on a bathroom stall to check if it is open. They say it's like saying, "Hurry up and get out!"

    Whenever someone knocks on the stall door, it makes me want to stay in there longer just to spite the asshat who knocked.

    Push the freaking door, if it doesn't move, someone is in there. Knocking is annoying.

  • 3

    Himajin

    In Japan, if you aren’t at least 10 minutes early, you’re late.

    Yes, damn it, stop coming so damned early! Drives me bats! Even though I know people will do it, and am prepared, i hate it. The bank comes 30 minutes early, some guys that came to do some work for us one morning were an hour early, knock it off!

  • 2

    smithinjapan

    People really ought to look into these 'customs' and how they are faux pas abroad more carefully before talking about or doing them. So many of them in the original just seem off the wall. Rude to knock on a toilet stall as opposed to just checking if the door's open? Taking off your shoes while sitting in a chair is rude?

    I'm not going to go over each custom that's pointed out, but will add a couple:

    1) The traditional sign for money (or the okay sign, albeit oriented differently). This is the 'sign' for female genitalia in some cultures.

    2) Come here/go away. Anyone who's been here for even a short time and/or been exposed to Japanese culture (Asian, really) knows that the gesture for 'come here' can be mistaken for 'go away' if the person gesturing does it too quickly. Not a big deal, but could prove a problem in business situations.

    3) Pointing to the nose. Who, me? I don't think this is uniquely Japanese, but unless it's clear that you are referring to yourself, or the human mind, heart, or what have you, someone in another country might just think there's something wrong with your nose.

    4) Chopping wood -- the 'excuse me, I'm going to cut in front of you'. Personally I think this gesture is a kind of sign of respect and that you are acknowledging that you are about to walk in front of a person or cut through a line, etc., but people in other countries will just think you're weird (I know because they always ask what I'm doing when I go back home and make the gesture).

    5) Asking for forgiveness. This one might be understood, but a lot of Western nations use a similar gesture to 'pray' for something, so you might be misunderstood as asking for a favor.

    6) The maru, the batsu, the pinky. Maru, no big deal, though people might think you're trying to sing YMCA. The batsu, if done only using the fingers, could be misread as though you're making the cross and trying to ward off some demon. Though it's actually considered to be a poor substitution even here (read that as you like!), the pinky finger is usually used to refer to a 'girlfriend/wife/mistress'. In China it's considered vulgar, and in India it means either you will not speak to that person (symbolized broken friendship) or that you need pee.

    7) Licking your finger and touching a person or thing to call dibbs on it. Sorry, but if you lick your finger and touch some food elsewhere outside Japan, you might end up wearing it instead of eating it. I've never actually seen people physically touch something when doing this, though, only gesturing.

    8) "Reverse peace sign". I'm surprised this one wasn't mentioned here, but ask any Brit what it means when you flash them a 'peace' sign with the back of the hand facing them and you might be surprised (if you don't know). Most people of course, if they flash the peace sign at all, do it with palm facing outwards, but just in case it's good to know you're telling someone off in GB if you do it backwards. Churchill wasn't telling Hitler he wanted peace.

    Anyway, there are heaps others, like the 'angry horns' and what not that are not common in other countries if they exist at all, but no point in mentioning them all. The article is of course right, at least, in pointing out that what's good (thumbs up!) in some cultures might not work in others.

  • 1

    Jimizo

    I'd include the 'eh?' Japanese use when they fail to hear or understand what's been said. While this is common in casual conversation in Japanese, my Japanese coworker was left feeling a little humiliated when he was told by a rude English boss to 'learn some manners'. While some of these customs and manners may cause genuine offense, for some the supposed offense can be nothing more than a chance for some good old fashioned snobbery or pedantry.

  • 2

    rnauser

    Its always funyn to read about stuff like this. And thanks too all the comments its made my day ;) We have some funny behavior like that over here in Sweden too :)

  • 1

    smithinjapan

    Jimizo: "While some of these customs and manners may cause genuine offense, for some the supposed offense can be nothing more than a chance for some good old fashioned snobbery or pedantry."

    Very true, but one thing to keep in mind is that some people have no exposure to foreign culture (that they're aware of and learn from) and the rude English boss you mention might just be reacting based on the culture norms of the nation s/he's in. He or she might be ignorant of the fact that your coworker just didn't know he was being 'rude'. I'm not defending the English boss and feel sorry for the coworker, but I'm just saying.

  • 1

    shanatc

    I'm glad to know the original translation for the blowing your nose entry. I suffer from allergies and my husband told me it would be rude for me to blow my nose in public, I just moved from England where I suffered from allergies or some kind of sinus problem year round and I had to blow my nose all the time. People were more apt to look at me if I sniffled, not if I blew my nose, unless it was especially loud. But coughing and sneezing in England are so commonplace, I don't see how they could really have an issue with it. If it is more acceptable to snort and such, I think I'll have a bigger problem with that. Along with the slurping I have a lot to get used to. Also, the backwards peace sign in England doesn't seem to be that huge of a deal anymore, my husband did it all the time, as a lot of black American men tend to do and no one seemed to be offended. Maybe they chuckled a bit on the inside, but no looks of shock.

  • 8

    Thunderbird2

    Blowing your nose in public

    It is generally considered bad manners to blow your nose at the dinner table at a restaurant, but okay in other public areas. However, Japanese tourists in England who have blown their nose in public commented that they were met with looks of disgust.

    That is utter bollocks.
    Blowing your nose in public is NOT a taboo, and is preferred to hawking and sniffing. I don't know where this person was, but it certainly wasn't a normal part of the UK.

  • 5

    YongYang

    *In Japan, if you aren’t at least 10 minutes early, you’re late. *

    WHAT? Absolutely NOT true.

  • 0

    GaroJ

    Also, the backwards peace sign in England doesn't seem to be that huge of a deal anymore, my husband did it all the time, as a lot of black American men tend to do and no one seemed to be offended. Maybe they chuckled a bit on the inside, but no looks of shock.

    If it's an obvious/known foreigner and the context was understood, I might not react to it either. It's hardly an instant cause of offence but it is something visitors/immigrants should be aware of.

  • 1

    ReformedBasher

    It bugs the heck out of me that JT publishes articles that seem to be Tokyo-centric and use them as the basis for EVERYTHING in Japan.

    So very true. Good golly, some of us actually like living here.

  • -1

    Serrano

    "it's impolite to knock on a bathroom stall"

    Ha ha, if only I could have 100 yen for every time someone knocked on the door of the stall where I was taking a dump. I always knock back, and then they leave.

    "In China it's polite to leave some food on your plate"

    That can change if everyone starts properly cleaning their plates..

  • -2

    Elbuda Mexicano

    This article is really biased and shows they know very little about the REAL Japan! First, you get these oyajis in the train, etc..hawking and spitting loogies right INSIDE the train! WTF?? I know this is rude not only here in JAPAN but in almost any other NORMAL country. NOT blowing your nose and letting boogers leak out of their nose at restaurants etc..how about using NON DISPOSABLE chop sticks yo pick your TEETH, these chop sticks will be used later by YOU AND ME!! and the list goes on and on....

  • -1

    Elbuda Mexicano

    Oh, I almost forgot, since I do love ONSENS, hot springs, it really makes me sick to see dirty oyajis not clean their asses, balls, etc..let alone not even try to shampoo before entering the hot springs, that I have to enter with god knows what coming off the dirty bodies of pigs likes the one I just tried to describe.

  • -1

    oikawa

    Elbuda I love your posts but those are not images I want swirling round my head tonight! And you've got to feel sorry for the dirty oyajis not having anyone to clean their asses and balls for them like they usually do when they bathe.

  • 0

    avigator

    Slurping noodles sounds gross, but I have come to tolerate it and even do it myself. I refuse to talk while with a mouth full. Sounds like the person is in desperation. My older brother used to poke me and my other brothers in the head if made sounds while eating or we talked with the mouth full. I can not stand the "Oihii" ladies who are compelled to say the word oishii while still eating. And when I go to eat sushi or ramen, you hear the old men roughing up their throats and like they just swallowed a big cold lump. Now, that is nasty. Stay home if the cold is that bad please. or if you never brush your tongue and the sulfites get to you.

  • 0

    Tessa

    Nose picking in public is disgusting. The worst offenders are middle-aged to elderly males, but not always. Yesterday I had to sit on a train next to a young boy who was reading a comic, picking his nose, and flicking the nasty stuff on the floor. I'm glad there's no custom of handshaking in this country.

    Sneezing and coughing in people's faces is also disgusting. What I hate most is when you can actually feel the globules of mucus landing on your face. Almost as bad as when a service provider coughs all over your food before bringing it to you.

    Tokyo people and Osaka people are very, very different. I think that Tokyo-ites have the best manners in Japan (as far as tourists go), and Osakans are the worst. I could write a book about it.

  • 3

    humanrights

    I see people passing urine on the street all the time in JP. I think it is considered rude and uncivilized in any countries. Culture has NOTHING to do with the basics of etiquette. Character plays the biggest role. To make disgusting sounds with your mouth and nose in front of others is childish and disgusting in any countries, except Japan it seems. I am tired of hearing the sounds of spitting, gurgling, swallowing their own snots, and breathing like a dying whale when making small efforts such as walking into the train or bus. Running in front of another person diagonally 1 inch away from your face while brushing your bag or shopping is ALSO rude in any countries, except here again it seems. Get in touch with reality, If my friends do any of these things, I would not associate with them or tell them to shape up!

  • 1

    Deplore

    @alimel1969

    Isn't the entire point of there being space below the stall's doors/walls so that you can tell if someone is occupying it without having to ask?

  • -4

    alimel1969

    @Deplore, if that were the case then why bother with doors at all?

  • 1

    Fadamor

    We’re not sure which country Matome Naver is referring to, but they suggest that sitting in a chair while taking off one’s shoes to be bad manners while abroad. We don’t have any idea which country this action is taboo in. Has anyone heard this before?

    In the U.S. taking your shoes off after sitting down is frowned upon. Either you're in a public place, or in someone's home, but in either case if you made it to the chair with the shoes on, then you should keep them on while sitting. It's considered bad form to start undressing while in a chair and others are in the room.

  • 2

    sfjp330

    In Tokyo, yeah it can get pretty uncomfortable hearing “Gaijin” in snippets of other people’s conversations nearly every time you walk outside. Most times people weren’t saying anything bad by it, they were just pointing out there was a foreigner, and some times they were saying nice things. In a country where so many people struggle with their identity, and dye their hair various shades of orangish-brown in an attempt to stand out, one can find solace in their gaijiness and the effortless effort of standing out no matter what. The Japanese have many insecurities.

  • 2

    GuySmiley

    Re. toilet knocking, which I find discombobulating as someone who likes a bit of privacy: you don't need to be Sherlock Holmes 1) to observe the occupied/vacant sign 2) to see the bolt slid across through the crack in the door **3) to listen for giveaway noises that someone is there! ** Now I knock back as that is the thing to do here, but I'll never feel comfortable doing so.

  • 0

    YongYang

    The door knock is absolutely not just about checking if it is occupied, some here use it as a reading room or whatever they want, preening and cleaning themselves and hog the bog He Knock is most definitely a 'Hey HURRY UP there are other people on planet earth!' as well.

  • 1

    BertieWooster

    Fadamor,

    In the U.S. taking your shoes off after sitting down is frowned upon. Either you're in a public place, or in someone's home, but in either case if you made it to the chair with the shoes on, then you should keep them on while sitting.

    I never knew that!

    Gosh! You live and learn!

    Really?

    It's considered bad form to start undressing while in a chair and others are in the room.

    I'm not surprised!

    I can't think of any situation in any culture where this would be acceptable. Even a stripper would bare all standing up, not sitting!

  • -1

    Book light

    Italian. Whenever I see somebody taking off their shoes, say, sitting for dinner or just waiting at the airport, I can't help but feel unpolite. But I do it myself when I'm in Japan, and feel ok.

  • 0

    tomatoflight

    I remember sitting in a sushi spot in Tokyo and this guy took his phone out and started recording me. Not photographed, recording video. I was thrown way off.

  • -1

    AustPaul

    Urinating in a public place is a simple offence in most states of Australia...usually infringement only but yeah, I saw a bit of it in Tokyo when I lived there.

    Snorting (very Asian), hissing, spitting, yep seen it all up there!

    At the end of the day we all have our own little differences, that's what makes the world the place it is!

    We Aussies take great pride in our uniqueness! (wink)

  • 0

    humanrights

    @tomatoflight I had the same experience, only I stood up and said 'turn that off!' with a loud voice. And he did. For some we are just Clowns or a piece of entertainment for their friends. Filming someone without permission is out right suspicious and offensive and I will never tolerate it. This is NOT about culture, but 'common respect'. We are not ' Zoo animals'.

  • 0

    Jenny Song

    "in Korea, sitting in “seiza” is known as the “prisoner sitting style” and is widely considered a way to bring your guests much pain." So true! Doesn't it hurt? Whew I can't imagine myself sitting the "proper style" when I go to Japan!

  • -1

    DP812

    In Japan, if you aren’t at least 10 minutes early, you’re late. However, in other countries, showing up to a party too early could be considered rude to the host who is still preparing for guests.

    I've actually seen this a lot in my area, so it's not just a Tokyo thing. When having guests over, I started telling my Japanese friends that the start time was later than I'd tell my fellow foreigners. That way, they tend to show up at the same time.

  • -1

    waltery

    How about sucking snot back up your nose during meals and on the train inches from another person! THAT JUST DISGUSTS ME!!!!!!! WHY in Japan is this so $$$$ing normal?

  • -2

    YuriOtani

    Just about everything is considered disgusting somewhere. What Koreans consider polite does not concern me! Have no plans to visit!

  • 0

    25psot

    If someone is planing to travel should print this article and use as a behavior adjustment bible.

  • 0

    interuni321

    The taking off of shoes while sitting in a chair is not the worst taboo, but come on, it is considered strange in the UK and US, especially if you then fold up your feet under you. If you had taken your shoes off at the front door and then sit in a seat no problem. The other taboo aspect of this is that many Japanese will do this even in formal setting such as at work in an office or training environment, this would never happen in the US or UK.

  • -1

    interuni321

    I`ll add refusing to be bothered to go to the doctor and get medicine for pollen allergy and then coughing and sneezing over everyone on the train and in other public spaces.

  • -1

    Kent Mcgraw

    Taking off your shoes while sitting in a chair. It is not taking off your shoes while sitting in a chair, it is taking off your shoes when in someones house. In most of America it is impolite to remove your shoes unless the homeowner says to remove them. Usually a person asks if they can remove their shoes. However this is in some parts of the country and in other parts people tell you to take them off before entering. In America you do not remove the shoes unless someone tells you to or asks you to.

  • -1

    Chin4Sailor

    @semperfi

    DON'T FORGET; Sneezing in public WITHOUT covering your mouth !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ................Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

    And you can add Coughing WITHOUT covering your Mouth, Especially when you are on a train, or directly in front of someone.... Happens ALL the time...

    And How about Staring in Public..? Never happens in Japan... Huh...

    But for the grace of God go thee..... In NYC you would get stabbed with a screwdriver for staring at the wrong person.

  • 0

    Serrano

    "In Korea, sitting in seiza is known as the "prisoner sitting style," and is widely considered to be a way to bring your guests much pain."

    The Koreans have it right.

  • 0

    How Bob

    OH, what wasn`t it you all who said they,the Japanese were so polite and what have you,,,,you are on the 'Late show' in finding these things out ,you see because if I had expressed these SAME things out,and More,20 plus years ago,,,I would have been called a Liar by all......can you all sing-n-say, "johnny come lately" !

  • -5

    Kent Mcgraw

    Removing the shoes is the dumbest part of Japanese culture. I hate removing shoes and then putting shoes on and then taking shoes off. Dear lord either wear them or stop wearing them. Have fun people putting me down.

  • 2

    kickboard

    Kent, you only wear your shoes when you go out, and take them off when you go in the house. How many times do you go in and out of your house in one day? Enjoy the crap on your carpet that you brought in on the underside of your shoes.

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