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Japanese Etiquette For Visitors: Experts Reveal Their Top Tips

Sensoji Temple in Asakusa Tokyo, Japan. Japanese Etiquette For Visitors

According to recent reports, there were 19.8 million visitors to Japan between January and October of 2023. Naturally, when visiting a different country, you’re likely to want to learn a few key common phrases to help you get by. But it’s not just language skills that tourists should be thinking about ahead of their trip. Japanese Etiquette For Visitors and expectations can also vary greatly as you travel from country to country – and Japan is no exception.

Whilst Japan is well known for its many unspoken rules of etiquette that have been passed down over many years, it’s not expected that visitors to the beautiful, often strict, and highly structured country will know every golden rule.

Sensoji Temple in Asakusa Tokyo, Japan. Japanese Etiquette For Visitors
Sensoji Temple in Asakusa Tokyo, Japan. Credit – Shutterstock Phattana Stock

Japanese Etiquette For Visitors: Top Tips

Key things to remember when visiting Japan.

COVID Etiquette and Regulations

Although other countries had relaxed rules around COVID some time ago, it wasn’t until earlier this year, that COVID rules and mask guidelines were significantly eased by Japan’s government. Now, visitors to the country no longer need to provide a clear COVID test or proof of vaccine before entry into Japan.

That said, when it comes to masks, although there is currently no mandate from the government, it is still common to see many people in Japan wearing masks. Especially in crowded places and on public transport.

Ultimately, it is up to each individual how they choose to behave concerning COVID-19 measures. There is a mixture of attitudes and behaviors across the population in Japan.

Read: Hindu Deities and Indian Culture in Japan

Greetings and Bowing – Japanese Etiquette For Visitors

The customs for greetings in Japan look noticeably different than those in most Western countries. Bowing is the most common Japanese greeting, ranging from a nod of the head to a deep bend at the waist.

Bowing is not one size fits all in Japan. There are different types for different situations depending on context, social status, age, and more. In more casual situations, for example, a bow of the head (similar to a nod) may suffice.

If you aren’t sure what type of bow is required in a given situation, don’t panic. Tourists are not expected to know the intricacies of the bowing customs in Japan. You will be able to follow suit with those around you. After some time you will likely be choosing the appropriate bow without even thinking about…

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