Omotenashi — Japanese hospitality? | The Japan Times

Japanese hospitality customs

Japanese Customs / August 19, 2017

Before You Travel

Visiting a foreign country where you do not speak the language can be a daunting experience for anybody travelling overseas for the first time.
Ensuring that you are well-prepared before you depart is the key to having a smooth, enjoyable trip.
Here we explain what to prepare before travelling to Japan.

What to Take

  • Passport
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Traveler's checks
  • Credit card
  • Travel plug
  • Voltage converter (Japan uses 100V power)
  • Travel clock / watch
  • Guidebook
  • Dictionary
  • Medicine kit
  • Notebook
  • Pen
  • Folding umbrella
  • Comfortable clothes and shoes
  • Camera

Other Things to Prepare

Japan has its own unique set of customs.
One of the most prominent of these is the custom of removing your shoes before entering the home.
While observing the customs of another culture may feel uncomfortable at times, it is all part of the overseas travel experience.
In keeping with the saying "When in Rome, do as the Romans do, " please try to observe Japanese customs during your time in Japan.
See it as an opportunity to improve yourself and gain new perspective on your home country by learning about another culture.
Since ancient times, the Japanese people have welcomed visitors with great hospitality.
As a visitor, you can make your trip to Japan more enjoyable and memorable by respecting the customs of your hosts.

Below are some examples of Japanese etiquette which you should be careful to observe.

  • Take your shoes off at the front door or before stepping into a room.
  • Bow when greeting somebody.
  • Make way for those in a hurry by standing to the left on escalators.
  • Refrain from using your mobile phone on trains or buses.
  • Do not speak loudly in public places.
  • Do not smoke while walking.
    Smoke only in designated smoking areas.
    Note that smoking while walking is an offence for which you may be fined in some parts of Japan.
  • Join the end of the line, even if you are in a hurry to reach your destination.
    Jump the queue only in emergencies.
  • When crossing the road, look both ways and cross at the lights or pedestrian crossing.
    Note that cars travel on the left-hand side of the road in Japan.
  • Stand behind the yellow line when waiting for a train.
    Once the train arrives, allow passengers to disembark before boarding.
  • Give your seat on the train to elderly passengers without a seat by standing up and saying the word 'Douzo.'
  • Lift your bowl off the table when eating.
  • Use both hands to serve alcohol when drinking with somebody you' re meeting for the first time.
  • Wash well and make sure that you are clean before getting into a public bath (hot spring).
    Do not put your towel in the bath.
  • Some hotel room amenities may be taken home and others may not.