Some notes on Japanese Etiquette

When traveling, people sometimes leave their common sense at their hometown airport to be picked up when they return home.

You may be on holiday but this does not excuse rude behavior

Japan is a G8 country and prices are comparable to those of the other countries.

The Golden Rule

Always ask yourself, “Would I do this in my own city or country?”

When in Rome….. This cliché is very useful. When you have doubts on how to behave or what to do, look around and follow suit of the people around you. Never feel embarrassed to ask. Japanese people are very helpful.

Do not enter or peek in every doorway because you think it looks interesting. Many of these “interesting” looking places are private homes and/or business not open for public viewing. You may be on holiday but this does not excuse rude behavior


Kyoto has four distinct seasons. Summer is very hot and humid. Winter has a very bone chilling cold. There is not much snow but dress warmly.

Look around you at the other people your age. Most likely they are dressed quite smart.

You may be on holiday but this is not a beach or a Southeast Asian cit

No bare feet

Restaurant etiquette

The oshibori should not be used as a tissue for blowing your nose or as a towel fro wiping you neck or other parts of you body other than your hands and face. However, if something is spilt it may be used to wipe the mess up.

Snapping your finger or clapping to get the attention of a staff member is impolite

Blowing you nose in the restaurant is impolite. Please go the washroom to do that

When taking off or putting on your shoes do not step on the wooden board that is on the floor. It is only there to make stepping up into the establishment a little easier.

Do not stick your chopsticks vertically in your rice.

Do not pass food to another person from chopstick to chopstick

It isn’t expected that when you enter a restaurant If you are on a budget it is better to go to a noodle shop or café where ordering one dish is sufficient. Expected price for 1 person is usually about 2,500-3,500 . In Japan land/rent and labour is very expensive.

As strange as it might seem, green tea is usually not served at restaurants. It is usually a service at hotel and ryokans just after checking in. It is also available in most rooms at the hotels ryokan.

Most restaurants are not very flexible when your order something different from what is on the menu

Video/Photo taking

Japanese people: geisha/cute babies/monks or uniquely dressed girls are not objects. Do not assume that because you have a camera that these people are dying to be a part of your book of memories. People have bad hair days feel sick and are in a hurry going somewhere.

Geisha are very busy people. They do not mind having their picture taken from a far.

Do not get in their way

Do not talk to them when they are with a customer or what might even look to be a customer

Ask people if you can photograph or video them. Again most Japanese people are not camera shy but do not like having their photo/video taken unawaringly??

Would you like someone jumping in your face with a camera while you were hurryingly on your way to an engagement?

Here is a hint from a professional photographer who has been photographing the maiko/geiko for more than a decade. It is better to see the maiko/geiko with you own eyes and put it in your head as a wonderful memory and buy some professionally taken postcards.

Most people I have seen chasing the women are not using digital SLR’s so there is a delay in the shutter and you pictures do not come out well anyway. Most of the time there are so many other people surrounding the maiko/geiko that your photos


To flag a taxi stand at the side of the street and raise one hand. There is no need to yell or whistle. If you are reding from your hotel or ryokan unlike in the U.S. there is no to tip the doorman. Do not close or open the doors yourself, they are automatic. (except the front door) Tipping is not expected so the please wait for your change. A driver might be embarrassed if you offer them a tip. Bus



do not take up more that one seat

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