These 10 Japanese Customs Seem Absurd To Foreigners But They Have Been Practicing In Japan Everyday

Going to Japan? Read this before you board a plane and take off. Japan, a country far in the east, has a lot of culture changed over time. However, this country still holds certain customs that is odd to the foreigners but has been practicing by Japanese in their daily life. For example, it is considered ugly and rude in Japan if you open your mouth large especially for women. In order to avoid embarrassed moment during your stay in this beautiful country, check out some of these traditions.

1. It is polite to slurp your noodles or rice in Japan.

“Slurp… Slurp… Slurp” is a sound you can hear regularly if you are sitting in a famous Ramen shop. It is a message to tell the chef “This is so delicious”. On the other hand, you might be mistaken for not liking your food if you don’t make any sound when having the meal.

2. No shoes in the house. Japanese will remove their shoes at the door before stepping into the house, office, temples, traditional restaurants or even classroom. However, you may step up into the house with your socks.

This custom of removing your shoes is not just practiced in Japan but also in Asian homes throughout the world. In some Japanese homes, there will be “home slippers” prepared at the doorstep. You need to wear these slippers before entering the house. Special slippers can be seen at the entrance of bathroom too.

3. Large mouth in the public is something rude especially for women.

No Japanese will eat a burger while walking on the street or riding in the train. In fact, Japanese women will usually cover their mouth with hands when they laugh or yawn. A woman with small and modest mouth is considered attractive in Japan, which is known as Ochobo.

4. People in Japan avoid the number 4 because it sounds like “death” in Japanese.

Since number 4 is avoided, it is common to see 1, 2, 3, 3A, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. This is a custom similar to number 13 is avoided in the west. 

5. Other than large mouth in the public is rude, blowing your nose in public is unacceptable.

Try to blow your nose in public and everyone will definitely look at you. You might get scolded for doing that.

6. Tipping is seen as impolite or even insulting.

Tipping is not a common thing in Japan. If you leave some cash on the table, the waiter will chase out from the restaurant and return you your money. He will then tell you, “Sir, you forget to keep the change.”

7. Bowing is an art in Japan. Addressing someone means you pay an extra respect to him or her.

Whoever you meet, just bow or do a simple inclination of your head. In addition to that, address someone properly by attaching a “san” to their last name. For example, Yamada-san (Mr. Yamada) instead of calling Yamada.

8. It is polite to say “itadakimasu” (I will receive) before you begin to eat.


9. Public Bathhouses is common in Japan. You can take a bath at any bathhouse you want.

Sento (neighnourhood bathhouses) or Onsen (hot springs) are two popular words for public bathhouses in Japan.

10. Bring a small gift to your friends if you are invited to stay at his or her house.

It is a must to bring a gift to your host if you are invited to their house for a dinner or an overnight stay. Also, you should not refuse a gift once offered.