|Above, a Tokyo sushi restaurant. Rules for eating and drinking can be a minefield. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
If you are planning to visit Japan any time soon, or in the not-too-far-off future, then you should look over an article that InsideJapan Tours blog posted on 10 rules of Japanese etiquette and even bookmark it for future reference.
They begin with:
Japan has a reputation for being a land full of obscure customs and unwritten rules, completely incomprehensible to the unwary foreigner. It’s something many would-be travellers worry about, and we’ve written about it numerous times in the past.
As usual – there’s no smoke without fire, and it is true that Japanese culture is a bit of a maze for the uninitiated. It is also true that the Japanese will very rarely tell you when you’re doing something wrong (out of politeness and respect for your feelings, mind you), and that it is a place where things are done doggedly and relentlessly by the book.
BUT – do not let this put you off. No Japanese person will ever expect you to know all the ins and outs of their culture, just as you would not expect someone from a foreign country to understand every vagary of yours. Making mistakes is perfectly acceptable – and it certainly should not be something to lose sleep over when visiting Japan. Moreover, it is the differences between Japanese culture and our own that make visiting this country so fascinating and eye-opening. Without them, it would be a lot less fun.
To read the top ten Japanese etiquette tips, go here.