Customs and Traditions of Japan
Language and religious features
The official language of Japan is Japanese. Most of the citizens are more or less proficient in English, however, due to the accent and the mixing of English and Japanese words, their English is very difficult to understand. All signs are duplicated in English.
In Japan, the two state religions are Shintoism (the original religion of Japan ), and Buddhism, which came later from China. Somehow they managed to merge into one and become almost inseparable. Only the temples of these two religions are still different.
Temples are sacred places for the Japanese. You can visit them completely freely. It is necessary to behave quietly not only in the temple itself, but also in the territory adjacent to it. When entering any room, you must take off your shoes and put on, if any, special slippers.
It is usually possible to take pictures in temples, but it is better to look at the signs and still ask permission from the ministers, as some monks may not allow themselves to be photographed.
At the entrance to the temple, you can usually buy a souvenir for a small fee or draw out a prediction for yourself. In case of success, it must be tied to a special tree, and in case of failure, it must be left with the figures of the guardians.
In terms of population, Japan is in tenth place in the world – about 127.5 million people live on its territory.
According to Countryaah, 99.9% of the country’s population are Japanese, and almost all of them profess Shintoism and some other religion together.
The attitude towards foreigners is wary. However, the Japanese, and mostly young people, show great curiosity – a person with blond hair may even be asked to take a picture.
The Japanese do not require foreigners to strictly observe traditions. They are convinced that only the Japanese are able to observe all the traditions of their country, so a foreigner who understands the culture of their state arouses genuine interest and surprise in them.
Rules of conduct for tourists
Before entering the room, you must take off your shoes and put them on a special shelf. Sometimes at the entrance there are slippers for guests to put on. Stepping on the tatami, you need to take off any shoes at all, including slippers – indulgence from the Japanese in this matter should not be expected.
If you are invited to visit, it is customary to grab some kind of souvenir – it can be sweets or some nice little thing.
When greeting a Japanese, you need to bow slightly, and not give a hand. If you greet a friend, you can limit yourself to a slight nod of your head; with a stranger, the bow should be lower.
It is forbidden to smoke, drink alcohol, listen to loud music and talk on the phone in trains and the subway. In general, the rules of conduct are almost everywhere depicted in the form of drawings, which, as a rule, are easy to understand.
It is also not customary to give up your seat on trains, however, only disabled and elderly people can sit in special places for the elderly and disabled.
When eating, it is allowed to slurp – this is considered a sign of respect for the cook. Before you start eating, you must say “itadakimas”, which means “I’m starting to eat.”
Chopsticks should be treated with respect – they should not be waved and pieces of food should not be pricked on them. It is also strongly not recommended to stick chopsticks in a bowl of rice – a sure sign that someone will die, the Japanese can become gloomy. Also, if you have already taken a piece of food from the plate, you should not return it back and take another one. By the way, men can eat sushi with their hands.
When drinking with a company, you need to pour from your bottle of sake into a cup of a neighbor – he, in turn, will fill yours. Before drinking, the standard toast “kampai!” is pronounced, which means “to the bottom!”.
In large restaurants, you can ask for a fork, but not all establishments have them. It is not customary to give tips to either waiters or taxi drivers – they may be offended.
If you don’t know how to get somewhere, or if there are any problems at all, you can always contact the police, they all speak English.
In public baths and hot springs, it is customary to thoroughly wash yourself in the shower before immersing yourself in the water. Also, after taking a bath, you should not poke the plug – the bath is usually filled for the whole evening for all guests. Check agooddir for recent history of Japan.
Public holidays in Japan:
January 1 – New Year
‘s Day January 15 – Coming of Age Day
February 11 – Foundation Day
March 21 (22 in leap years) – Spring Equinox Day
April 29 – Greenery Day
May 3 – Constitution Day
May 4 – Rest Day
May 5 – Children’s Day
July 20 – Day of the Sea
September 15 – Day of Honoring the Aged
September 21 (22 in leap years) – Autumn Equinox Day
October 10 – Sports Day
November 3 – Culture Day
November 23 – Labor Day
December 23 -Birthday of the living Emperor Akihito