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30 Things (Not) To Do In Japan – Easily Avoid These Embarrassing Moments!

Each country has its own specific rules, habits, culture, and practices which differ from our own. Japan is no different. There are many things in Japan that many foreigners who are visiting may not be aware of and might inadvertently disrupt, offend or anger the locals.

Although a lot of these things may seem like they are just tiny details or would be overlooked and forgiven because you are just passing through, it is always a good idea to inform yourself as much as possible about a country’s customs and culture. As a representative of your own country, being polite, courteous and knowledgeable about the country you visit goes a long way.

To help you better understand and enjoy your visit to Japan, here are a list of things that many foreigners do that you should try to avoid!

In this article:

Shoes and when/where to take them off

1. Shoes are often removed at home, work, restaurants and schools

Many people know that many Asian countries have a no-shoe policy inside the home, but you might not know that a lot of workplaces, restaurants, schools and even many hotels require everyone to remove their shoes and wear slippers or indoor shoes.
If you are just visiting Japan, most likely you won’t be entering a school or workplace but there is a good chance you will eat at a Japanese style restaurant or izakaya. Most of these restaurants have a shoe locker at the entrance to place shoes before entering the dining area—especially if the restaurant has tatami mat flooring.
In these establishments, shoes and slippers are not permitted. Also, if you are staying at a hostel, capsule hotel or Japanese style ryokan than most require you to remove your shoes at the entrance and change into the provided slippers. Be careful to make sure not to step on the shoe area with slippers and vice versa.
When visiting a Japanese home, remove your shoes at the entrance or genkan. There will often be slippers provided to change into but if not, entering with socks is okay. If slippers are provided, it is polite to wear these slippers in the home but to remove them if going into a tatami floor room.

2. Bathroom slippers

Image: NCSchneider_Images /

A mistake I have made myself many times is to either walk into the bathroom using the same slippers worn in the home or restaurant, or to leave the bathroom wearing the bathroom slippers.
Slippers in the bathroom are for bathroom use only and wearing them accidentally into the dining area or home area…

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