In response to the popular blog post “10 Japanese Travel Tips for Visiting America” (which has shown up all over facebook) we want to share 10 tips we have learned in our 10 months in Japan (with the help of our family and friends who have spent time here!).
1. No tipping in Japan. Despite the fact that service in restaurants and stores is immeasurably better than the States, you will never be expected to tip…anyone…ever! In fact, any attempt to do so could be seen as offensive. It’s simply their job to serve you well.
2. Respect for others’ space. In America being loud in public places or walking 5 people wide on the sidewalk is typical. But in Japan (a small island with a lot of people) they are very aware of space. It is important to speak quietly in trains and restaurants and attempt to take up as little room as possible.
3. Vending machines everywhere with everything you can imagine. Hot drinks, cold drinks, and hot red beans or corn at every corner.
4. Always wait for the green pedestrian walking light, even if absolutely nobody is around you. In Japan, rules are important because they help to maintain group harmony. Unfortunately, that means Jaywalking isn’t an option here (although you will see it every once in a while since being on time is a cultural value as well).
5. Drink plenty of water at home. In restaurants you will be offered a communion-cup-sized glass of water which won’t be refilled unless you call the waiter and ask for more.
6. Engrish signs. There is a lot more English written on signs than we expected to see here. However, the signs are typically more entertaining than helpful.
7. It’s okay if you can’t speak Japanese… at all. Despite the fact that you are in Japan, the Japanese will always be the first to apologize that they can’t communicate with you or understand your very poor Japanese attempts. They’re a very polite and patient group of people.
8. Serious goodbyes. Waving isn’t sufficient. One must wave at the door, walk your guest out the door, wave again, watch them walk away while waving and bowing the entire time.
9. Crime is basically nonexistent. If you leave your wallet somewhere people will go to extreme lengths to return it. If it actually gets stolen it was probably by another foreigner.
10. Everything is more efficient… Right down to the sink on the back of the toilet.