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Japanese traditions that are unusual for foreigners

Japanese culture is very interesting for travelers from different parts of the world. It has a unique history and quite intriguing traditions. However, some of the customs that seem to be normal in their country can be surprising, and even shocking for many foreigners. For example, you see crowded trains or underground and special professionals who will… push the passengers inside so that as many people could be stuffed inside as possible! These professionals are called ‘Oshiya’ and seem to quite helpful but most of the foreigners will be shocked anyway. Want to see other interesting facts about Japan? Continue reading this article!

Avoiding ‘4’

When you see or hear the number ‘4’ what do you feel? Well, just a normal number, like the other ones. However, Japanese avoid this number and associate it with a bad luck. Number four is called in their language ‘shi’ and it’s similar to the word ‘death’. That’s why it is used as rarely as it is possible. Some of the Japanese are so afraid of this number that they change their telephone or house numbers. Also, don’t be surprised when you notice 5th floor after the 3rd floor in the buildings…

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Avoiding ‘4’

Easting and walking?

It is quite convenient to walk in the park with a delicious hamburger or a chocolate bar. Especially when you are in a hurry or just want to combine exercise and consuming some snack. However, in Japan, it is considered in a completely different way. It is found slovenly, unwelcome and really disgusting. Of course, there are a few exceptions but generally, eating in public places, such as bars and restaurants, is not what is expected of you.

Blowing your nose

If you blow your nose in a public place in Japan then don’t be surprised when people start to ridicule you or even criticize you aloud. Wiping and blowing your nose is not considered as a disrespectful behavior but also as a very repulsive one. Also, sneezing is never welcome so when you have a cold and you sneeze a lot then you’d better do it in a discrete way or just got to the toilet so that nobody would notice and get offended. This may be really problematic when you have to spend 8 or more hours at work and you have an allergy or cold...

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Easting and walking?

Tipping

This is quite funny as in most of the other countries, especially in Europe and the USA, if you don’t tip, you are considered a mean and rude person. However, in Japan, it’s the other way round. All those stingy people from Western countries turn out to be the most polite ones in Japan. It is very inconsiderate and tactless to leave more money than you are supposed to pay for your meal. When you give the tip to the waiter he may be quite confused. However, if you are really happy with the helpful service and want to show it then it’s more appropriate to leave some small gift such a box of chocolates.

Blowing your nose

A present for a the host

When you are invited to someone’s house in Japan, you can feel really honored. And it is expected from the visitor to give some small gift to the host. It doesn’t have to be expensive and very sophisticated but it’s important how it is wrapped. Also, don’t be confused and offended when the gift is not opened after the host receives it. You may be used to the behavior when the person happily unwraps the papers to see what is inside but in Japan, it just contradicts their traditions.

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Tipping

Slippers for every occasion

You’d better pay attention to the socks you wear in Japan as at any place you visit you can be asked to take off your shoes! Yes, this is their another unusual tradition! When you visit someone’s house, a traditional restaurant, temple or even a museum or art gallery you leave your shoes before you enter the place and put on slippers! Luckily, you don’t have to bring your own shoes. In most of the places, you are provided with the special slippers. There is even a separate kind of slippers that is put on while going to the toilet!

Slurping? Yes, please!

This one is so ridiculous! Well, in your own country, when you consume a meal, you probably try hard to eat it in a polite way and without any disrespectful ‘noises’ that would probably draw the attention of others. However, in Japan, it ’s the other way round! When you soup or pasta and you slurp or chomp then it is really welcome! Actually, the hosts or the waiters can be really glad as this is a way of being pleased with the meal. And if you don’t slurp loud enough then you can offend this way the person who prepared the dish!

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Pouring on your own? No way!

When you eat dinner with other guests and there are jugs with tea or bottles of mineral water then what do you usually do? Pour the liquid into your glass. However, when you do the same in Japan, you won’t be considered a polite person. Especially when it comes to wine or other similar drinks. So what can you do? Wait until someone fills your glass. Also, you need to wait until all the glasses on the table are filled before you take your glass to start drinking.

A present for a the host

Sleeping on your shoulder

Japanese people tend to work a lot. No wonder that they are exhausted and sleepy when they come back home. They can even fall asleep while standing on the underground so when you suddenly feel that someone is leaning on you, then show some consideration and don’t react in a rude way. This hard-working population doesn’t have much time for enough sleep so a quick nap on the train may be the best chance to relax a little bit during the day.

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Slippers for every occasion
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