We’ve seen impeccable displays of manners from Japanese high school baseball teams on many occasions before, from the respectful bowing of Yamagata Chuo High School to the classy stadium-cleaning deed of Kyukoku just the other day. It seems like the annual Koshien high school baseball tournament in Hyogo Prefecture really does bring out the best in the promising young players, as another team from Akita Prefecture has proven after being eliminated from this year’s tournament with their grand display of thanks in a regional hotel.
The corporate culture at RocketNews24 is pretty casual, but before I joined the team I spent several years working in the service and hospitality sectors. As a country that takes both work and etiquette very seriously, it’s probably not a surprise that Japanese business etiquette has a detailed code of proper conduct, all in an effort to foster an atmosphere of mutual respect and smooth cooperation.
Still, even for some people born and raised in Japan, the list of dos and don’ts can feel a little too long, and those who’d rather not have to stand on ceremony compiled a list of their own of the top 10 Japanese business manners young adults could do without.
Taking the train is by far the most common way to get around urban and suburban Japan. By its very nature, though, using public transportation means being out in public, which in Japan means following social norms about proper manners and not bothering your fellow passengers.
The average Tokyo commuter spends an hour each way on the train, though. It can be hard to follow all of the implicit rules of train etiquette during such a lengthy ride, and here are 10 minor breaches of etiquette that some Japanese men are willing to turn a blind eye to.
When you first set foot in Japan, it’s hard not to be impressed by the efficiency and social order. The streets are clean, trains run on time, and the people are quiet and polite, yet possess enough of the bizarre to be intriguing (cosplay, line-ups for chicken ramen-flavored ice cream or Lotteria 5-pattied tower burger anyone?).
Living in Japan, or even just visiting, can be a life-changing experience. No one returns to their country the same person as when they left. Here are some of the things that make such an impression on foreigners, they cause us to think a second time, and alter the way we think, act, or view the world. In short, they prompt us to make life changes. Just when you thought you knew it all…
Karaoke in Japan tends to be a little different from in the west, and it comes with its own set of rules and etiquette that it’s a good idea to learn if you want to keep being included in karaoke parties.
Whether it’s your first time ever singing in (semi-)public or you’re a seasoned karaoke veteran back home, these six tips for not being a total karaoke bore will help make your singing sessions super special (and not at all humiliating…).
Many cultural guidebooks contend that eating while walking is considered rude in Japan. That’s not entirely accurate. Sure, walking down the street while munching on a hamburger will make you look gluttonous, maybe laughably so, but no one’s going to get offended by your mobile meal.
What will upset some people, though, is smoking while walking, and not just because of the horrible stink and health effects of secondhand smoke. Puffing away while moving down the sidewalk can be downright dangerous to nearby kids and the wheelchair-bound, as this manga artist’s illustration reminds smokers.
One of the first things you notice when you visit Japan is how nice and polite everyone seems to be. Shop staff bow to you, people greet you in the hotel lobby, even the guy at the combini sprints across the store to open up the second register when there’s more than one person waiting to be served.
But spend any prolonged amount of time here and you’ll realise that there are plenty of rude people here too (just like in the rest of the world…). And there are even a few niceties we in the west generally perform as a matter of habit that just aren’t part of the Japanese way of doing things.
So just how are Westerners unintentionally schooling the Japanese in manners?
We’ve been seeing a lot of articles recently about how to use Japanese chopsticks correctly. For those of us who grew up using forks and knives, it may seem a bit silly to obsess over holding two sticks at the correct angles. If you plan on visiting, living in, or especially working in Japan at some point, though, it may be a good idea to get out a protractor and practice those angles to save yourself a lot of embarrassing moments with friends and coworkers later.
To help you out, we here at RocketNews24 have compiled seven facts about chopsticks to help you along in your quest for perfect Japanese table manners. Even if you’re a seasoned chopstick expert, you may learn a thing or two from our advanced-level tips.
With the invention of indoor plumbing and bathtubs (not really news to anyone, we’d hope), the traditional public bath houses and hot springs of Japan are now used for relaxing getaways more than actual hygienic necessity. Heck, even capybara soak in hot springs to relax!
Hot springs, known as onsen in Japanese, are also becoming popular with foreign visitors, at least those brave enough to bare it all in front of strangers. For health and safety reasons, there are quite a few rules to pay attention to when soaking in a public bath. A very nicely designed etiquette poster, which recently surfaced on TripAdvisor, is very thorough and is even teaching Japanese people a thing or two about the bathing experience!
Japanese people have a reputation for being polite and well-mannered, so the frequent sight of so many people, rather than giving up their seat as they should, suddenly becoming engrossed in their smartphones or pretending to sleep when a pregnant woman or elderly person boards always comes as a bit of a surprise to me.
Of course, there are still plenty of kind and courteous people who offer up their seat without fail. On such occasions, the elderly passenger will often decline the offer, either because they will be getting off in a couple stops, or because despite appearances they still feel young and genki enough to stand for the journey. One elderly man in particular, though, took offense at a young boy who kindly offered up his seat recently.
There’s still a lot of room for improvement regarding the availability of elevators in Japan’s train stations and other public facilities, but the country doesn’t have a totally sub-par record in helping the disabled retain their mobility. For example, on the sidewalks of most moderately large streets, you’ll find a row of bumps that operate as a guide for blind pedestrians, indicating not only any curves in the walkway but also warning of intersections and steps ahead.
Obviously, good manners dictate keeping the path clear, but in all that empty space one Japanese motorist saw a perfectly-placed parking spot. And while Japanese culture often errs on the side of not sticking your nose in other people’s business, it looks like one elementary school student couldn’t let this go without giving the driver a piece of his mind, even if the inconsiderate owner wasn’t anywhere to be found right then.
Are there ever times when you feel really glad to have been born where you were? Maybe you’ve felt that way during a holiday, or while eating your favorite local food, but regardless, most of us have had those moments when we’re just plain thankful to be a citizen of a particular country.
Internet portal Mynavi Woman was curious to learn the specific situations and things that made Japanese people happy to be Japanese, and so in typical Mynavi fashion they opened up an internet survey in July to find out. Those results are finally in, and we’re happy to present to you the top 10 things that made Japanese respondents feel lucky to be nihonjin!
Did you know that you’ve probably been eating sushi wrong this whole time? Check out this video from a pro sushi chef to see how you should be doing it if you want to be a real sushi gourmet.
The 96th National High School Baseball Championship, better known as Summer Koshien, is now underway in Hyogo Prefecture. In other words, Japan is once again swept up by baseball fever.
The championship takes the form of a single elimination tournament between the regional champions from each of Japan’s 47 prefectures (Hokkaido and Tokyo are both allowed two teams each). One of the teams this year, which hails from northern Japan’s Yamagata Prefecture, has become an especially hot topic online, even though they were recently knocked out in the third round. The reason for their popularity is not only because of their skill, but also for their unbelievably well-mannered conduct off of the field. Introducing the team that has now become known as the most polite high school baseball team in all of Japan.
Japanese culture places a lot of importance on taking care of yourself and not inconveniencing others. Sooner or later we all end up needing a little help, though, which is why the Japanese language has a half-dozen regularly used phrases that all mean “thank you.”
But while having that arsenal of expressions with which to show your gratitude comes in handy, it won’t do you much good if you want to thank someone who’s not in earshot, such as a fellow motorist who let you into their lane on the expressway. That’s why Japanese drivers follow a bit of automotive protocol that lets them deliver a message of thanks with the push of a button.
With how crowded trains get during rush hour in Japan, finding an open seat can be like discovering an oasis in the desert, or a cold can of Ebisu beer in the fridge nestled behind a group of lesser brews. Oftentimes, though, you’ll step into the train and find every seat occupied.
While no one really likes standing for a 30- or 60-minute ride, for some elderly, pregnant, infant-accompanying, or handicapped passengers, that’s not just an unpleasant situation, but a painful, or even impossible, task. Those groups of people still have as much need for mobility as anyone else, though, so rail companies put up signs directing those passengers to special seats for them along the corner benches of each car.
It seems that able-bodied passengers in different parts of Japan react differently to these suggestions, though. Not only that, not everyone believes keeping those seats open is the right thing to do, and a lot of it has to deal with a subtle difference in the wording used in Tokyo and Sapporo.
Japanese soccer fans attracted plenty of praise at the World Cup last month when, having watched their team lose to Ivory Coast, they diligently cleaned up their trash from the stadium. Whether you think these supporters’ actions show how important it is to Japanese people to be considerate of others, or just good old-fashioned common sense that applies wherever you are in the world, everyone (well, almost everyone) agreed that taking your rubbish home with you is A Good Thing.
This week, however, Japanese Twitter users have breathed a collective disappointed sigh as photos of the trash left in the streets after the world-famous Sumida River Fireworks Festival show some people in Japan aren’t as super-considerate as we’d like to think. Is Tokyo an exception to the rules? Or is Japan’s reputation as a super-clean nation undeserved?
Public transport such as trains and buses serves millions of commuters each day. Regardless of the country, there are rules and codes of conduct (both written by law and unspoken) that should be observed to ensure all commuters can enjoy a safe, comfortable journey. Although most public transport users adhere to these rules and social norms, there are also bound to be those who ignore them and annoy the hell out of their fellow passengers with their inconsiderate behavior, like these people, who fellow commuters in Korea recently decided to snap and shame online.
After living here for the best part of eight years (five in the country, the rest in the capital) I’ve come to realise that for all the talk of Japan being kind of an oddball nation, it’s no weirder than anywhere else, and perhaps the only reason people here sometimes come across as so quirky is because the rest of the time they mind their own business and just get on with things quietly.
One thing that never fails to astound me when I go out at night in Tokyo, though, is the almost superhuman way in which some businessmen – despite looking like they’ve consumed more alcohol than I ever could without ending up in hospital or featured in the local news – still manage to remain upright and even have the wherewithal to navigate the city’s labyrinthine stations, board a train and get themselves home.
Here are some words about this. Read them if you want to.
There are a number of one-word phrases in the Japanese language that, try as you might, just can’t be summed up anywhere near as succinctly in English. ‘Atarimae‘ is one of them. Used to describe a situation, behaviour or feeling that is entirely natural and obvious to all concerned, the phrase has been used with tremendous frequency this week by Japanese reacting to news that people the world over were applauding their country’s football fans for cleaning up their section of the stadium after their World Cup game last weekend. “Why wouldn’t you clean up after yourself?” people asked. “It’s atarimae.”
An article published earlier today on Japan’s WirelessWire News, however, suggests that although in Japan it is considered proper to tidy up after oneself, by doing so at the World Cup stadium these fans may in fact be putting Brazilian staff out of a job, prompting netizens to debate whether they ought to follow suit and leave their trash behind or do what comes naturally to them.