Etiquette

Japan is famous for its etiquette, though it's not as strict (or consistent) as you may think.

  • Greetings Japanese typically greet each other with a slight bow, but may greet foreigners with a handshake; hugging and cheek-kissing would be considered alarming.
  • Queueing Tokyoites are famous queuers, forming neat lines in front of subway doors, ramen shops and more.
  • Eating & Drinking Japanese frown upon eating and drinking on streets and on public transport; beverages in resealable containers are an exception.
  • Shoes Off Many lodgings and restaurants request you leave your shoes at the door. Take a quick look around for a sign – or slippers in the foyer – to see if this rule applies. Shoes should never be worn on tatami mats.
  • Escalators Stand to the left on escalators.
  • Religious Sites There is no dress code for visiting a shrine or temple, but it's polite to keep your voice down.