Etiquette

Japan is famous for its etiquette, though it's not as strict as you might think (and foreign visitors are usually given a pass).

  • Greetings Japanese typically greet each other with a slight bow, but may greet foreigners with a handshake; hugging and cheek kissing is considered alarming.
  • Queueing The Japanese are famous queuers, forming neat lines in front of subway doors, ramen shops etc.
  • Eating & Drinking Eating and drinking on streets and subway cars is generally frowned upon; beverages in resealable containers are an exception.
  • Shoes Off Many lodgings and restaurants (and even some museums!) request you leave your shoes at the door. Just take a quick look around – for a sign or slippers in the foyer – to see if this rule applies. Never wear shoes on tatami mats.
  • Religious Sites There is no dress code for visiting a shrine or temple but it's polite to keep your voice down.