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Japan is a small island and the unique culture was developed over hundreds of thousands of years.
Here are 8 interesting facts about Japanese culture you should know before visiting Japan.
Greeting and Bow
You would see people take a bow in Japan many times such as meeting someone, expressing appreciation, an apology to someone and saying goodbye.
There are some different ways to take a bow but the longer and deeper the bow, the more respectful they mean in a Japanese culture.
So if you meet someone important and want to show respect, be sure to bow a little longer and deeper.
The point is not doing more than 2 actions at the same time.
Don’t take a bow while walking, talking, or doing something.
4 Different Writing Style
If your mother tongue is English, you use the alphabet every day.
How about Japanese people?
Well, they use 4 writing styles which are kana, katakana, kanji, and alphabet.
The first writing style people started to use was kanji, which comes from China about 1500 years ago.
After kanji was introduced in Japan, not only kanji was developed in Japanese own way, but also other writing styles were created, kana and katakana.
Kana was made kanji-shape simpler and easier, and katakana was created by a part of kanaji.
So, how people use kanji, katakana and kana?
Verbs, adjectives and adverbs are written in kanji in most cases.
More kanji there are in sentences, more official and serious they seem.
However, postpositional particles, conjunctions or something connecting words are only written in kana.
Words which came from countries are written in katakana.
It sounds difficult to read and write Japanese, however, the literacy rate of Japanese people is higher than 99%.
Taboos about Chopsticks
As you probably know, Japanese people use chopsticks.
Before visiting Japan, you should learn how to use chopsticks because not all restaurants have forks and knives.
Even if you can’t use chopsticks very well, there are some rules you shouldn’t do in Japan.
For example, tate-bashi (立て箸) is a term that defines the rude manner of sticking chopsticks into the rice vertically.
Tate-bashi is part of a Japanese custom performed after someone passed away.
Grieving Japanese families often set up a small altar in their house and place a bowl of rice with chopsticks put upright in a bowl of rice, replaced with a new one on a daily basis, until the grieving ends.
Another example is mayoi-bashi(迷い箸). Imagine there are a lot of delicious foods in front of you as you are holding chopsticks. You are wondering what to choose, which shouldn’t lead you to hover the chopsticks over the dishes.
There are more than 10 rules about chopsticks that you might do, unless warned beforehand.
When you go to restaurants in Japan, you will be served oshibori, which is a rolled towel.
Depending on the weather, the towel can be cold or warm.
Oshibori is a symbol of hospitality and cleanness of Japanese culture.
Please use oshibori to wipe your hands only because you look like an old man if you wipe your face or neck!
Taking Off Shoes
It is required to take off your shoes in someone’s house or any places which have tatami mat.
The reason to take off shoes is not to bring dirt and keep a house clean.
Not only someone’s house, but there are more situations you should take off your shoes, for example, Japanese style restaurants, temples, and schools.
How do you know if you must take off shoes or not?
There is a clear border in the entrance such as around 5-centimeter step up, or different color or a different texture.
If you are not sure whether you should take off your shoes or not, you should ask someone before you become rude.
Hot Springs (Onsen)
Hot spring (onsen in Japanese) is one of the things you should experience in Japan.
Soaking onsen with a beautiful view must reduce your stress and charge your energy.
However, one thing you should pay attention about onsen is tattoo is not allowed in most onsen.
This is because people have a tattoo are considered to be criminal in the old days.
Recently more and more onsen allowed tattoos, but you should check the onsen before if you have tattoos.
Sleeping on The Train
This is one of the funniest scene in Japanese culture.
Japan is famous for a safe country, so people don’t worry about theft compared to other countries.
One of the things you can tell so is people are sleeping on the train.
Every morning, many middle-aged men sleep while the train is swing, which is a very funny and strange scene.
You may know Japanese people are punctual. To be punctual is a very important factor in Japanese culture.
When they have an appointment, they would reach the place 10 minutes before the appointment.
The most surprising thing is transportation.
When the train or shinkansen run behind schedule, rail companies make an announcement of apology even if the delay is 1 minute.
You may think it is strange and too strict, but once you get used to Japanese transportation, you will be irritated to transportation in other countries!
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