The Do's and Dont's When Traveling to Japan

So, your planning a trip to Japan? Great! You'll have an absolute blast. Here are just a few things to keep in mind though while you are there (I mean you don't want to come across as the stereotypical westerner right?).

Do call for your waiter when your at a restaurant. This is something that many westerners will find to be uncomfortable and possibly feel like they are rude, but in Japan this is common place. The servers will not bother you too much, as they'll wait until the customers call for help. So don't sit there when your ready to order waiting for them to stop by, especially if your in a smaller village in the countryside. Also after you call for them, make sure your menu (if it is a book) is closed. It's not rude, so don't feel bad. And hey if you say it in Japanese, they'll be that much more impressed.

Don't have phone or loud conversations on the train. When your in Japan, your going to be using the train system a lot. I mean why wouldn't you? It's only one of the best public transit systems in the world. So while you are there DO NOT TALK ON THE PHONE, I repeat, DO NOT TALK ON THE PHONE. This is extremely rude in Japanese culture. This may come as a shock to many people, but despite how crowded the train cars can get, they stay relatively quite. You might hear murmurs every now and then, but all in all that's about it. So again, keep in respect to that and be courteous and quite while on the train.

Do purchase a Suica, Icoca, Monaca, etc. card. Trust me you'll be so much happier that you did. These little cards allow you to just tap it to the ticket gate, so you don't have to worry about losing a ticket on the train, going through the hassle of buying one every time, and you get a pretty cool souvenir that fits in your wallet.

Don't ask for a take out box. I apologize if there's a lot of food related items on this list but hey, everyone likes food and the Japanese excel at making delicious food. When your in a restaurant, and you order something you couldn't finish (which won't likely happen as you'll find yourself not getting enough because it's so good), don't ask for a take out. This is a again seen as rude, especially to the chef. So eat what you can, and apologize if you can't finish. If you need something later, just go to your local convenient store and you'll find a nice variety of cheap foods there.

Do rent a pocket Wi-Fi. If you're like me and can't afford international phone bills then you'll want to purchase this. It will provide you access to the internet anywhere in, without racking up that bill. If you stay at an Airbnb, especially in Tokyo, most will come with one. However, if your staying at a hotel, or a host doesn't have one you can always rent one from Japan wireless. Last time I was there, it was about $54 USD for the whole week. Split between two people we only paid 27 each. Not a bad deal at all. This will help you from getting while your in the city and finding major spots to go to. I do recommend though taking sometime out of the day to just wander about and get lost as it can be the most peaceful thing ever. And don't worry to much about crime, as the crime rate in Japan is next to non-existent.

Don't expect everyone to know English. This I think is the biggest and most important. It's become pretty well known that in Japan, students learn English from elementary school all the way through high school. Well just because the learn it in school doesn't mean they retain it that well. I mean if you learn a language and don't practice it, you're bound to forget it. And in Japan, there population of foreigners is very low, only about .2%. So they often don't use it in their everyday lives. Also, just like most kids at my high school, they most likely learn just enough to pass the tests. After that it becomes obsolete. Now don't get me wrong, there are plenty of people who speak English in Japan and a proficient level, just don't expect everyone to know it. The native language is Japanese, so I think Japanese should try to be common place before English. A good thing to ask someone is "Ego ga wakarimasuka". It translates to "Do you know English?"

Now obviously I couldn't include all the cultural differences but I think these are the one's that stand out the most. If you would like this to be expanded upon, just leave a comment below and I'll be sure to make one.

Safe travels.


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