11 Examples of Japanese Etiquette That Would Drive Us Crazy


7. Touching

In Japan, looking in the eyes of people, let alone touching them, is disrespectful. This country is not very large, so every Japanese person respects other people’s personal space. If you are visiting Japan, don’t touch people.

There’s also a ban on kissing in public. It was deemed to be a breach of public order prior to 1945.

6. Alcoholic drinks

The social hierarchy breaks down entirely when the Japanese drinks. And they’re drinking heavily. With his students, a local professor will drink, and then they’ll drag him home. In a karaoke bar, an admirable clerk who bows to his business partner during the day can get drunk and vomit on his suit. And that’s okay.

Surprisingly enough, they’ll act as if nothing happened when they’re all sober up. What’s going on in a boozy session in Japan stays in a boozy session.

5. Money

The Japanese have an odd attitude towards money: they are embarrassed to show it in public for some reason. Money envelopes are therefore very common here, decorated in a traditional way. And if you don’t have such an envelope, before you send it to anyone, you’ll have to bundle the money in a piece of paper.

You don’t need to do that in supermarkets, of course, but you still have to consider this rule: you can’t give the cashier your money, just put it in the cash tray. And it’s all for the sake of personal space protection.

4. The art of sitting properly

A sit under one’s knees by folding one’s legs is called “seiza,” and only in this manner the Japanese sit on the floor. We feel comfortable seiza-style sitting as if they were in an armchair. But as Europeans are not used to it, within a few minutes their feet become numb.

If you’re a tourist or senior and spread your legs, you’re sure to get away with it, and nobody’s going to say anything. But for a Japanese person to sit like that would be unimaginably inappropriate.