Etiquette

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

  • Greetings Japanese typically greet each other with a slight bow, but may greet foreigners with a handshake; hugging and cheek kissing is considered alarming.
  • Queuing Join the queue, usually a neat line.
  • Public Transport It's bad form to eat or drink on public transport (except when riding the shinkansen, the bullet train, or reserved-seat limited express trains); beverages in resealable containers are an exception.
  • Shoes Off Many lodgings and restaurants (and some attractions) 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 or slippers on tatami (woven floor mats).
  • Religious Sites There is no dress code for visiting a shrine or temple but it's polite to keep your voice down.