Japan can be a strange and interesting place for first time visitors. Japan has different customs, traditions, and some things that may seem normal in your home country may be the total opposite in the land of the rising sun. Since I’m sure not all of you live in America, Japan’s customs listed below might not seem strange to you, but when compared to American society at least, they can be kind of strange.

So what 7 things should you do in Japan but not in the good ol’ US of A? Let’s find out.

Not Tip for Service

Tipping is a huge part in the day to day lives of the average American. You tip your waiters, cabdrivers, bellboys, and bartenders. Everybody loves getting tips. In Japan, however, tipping is a definite no-no.

If you tip someone in Japan, they may be confused as to why you gave them too much money and they’ll insist that you take your change. Some workers may feel guilty about the extra money and not know what to do with it or if taxes need to be paid on it or if they should report it to their superior. Some employees may even see it as demeaning.

When nobody has to worry about tipping, the atmosphere is a lot more relaxed. Your waiter won’t be coming over to your table every five minutes to see how everything is. You eat your food, the waiter does their job, you pay for the cost of your food, and the waiter earns their fair wage. Everybody wins. Don’t tip in Japan.

Not Hold Doors Open for People

Okay, so this one’s not so much something you shouldn’t do in Japan, but you definitely shouldn’t be surprised when you see others not holding doors open or someone doesn’t do it for you.

In Japanese culture and society, it never became commonplace for males to hold open doors for the ladies. It’s just not something they’re used to doing over there. So if nobody opens any doors for you or if they seem super surprised when you do so for them, now you know why. Heck, even taxi cab doors open on their own – no need to worry about those.

Push and Shove on Subways and Trains

Trains and subways are like, super crowded in Japan especially in the cities around rush hour. To get on and off these crowded trains when they need to, Japanese people must push and shove a bit to get where they’re going before the doors close. It’s unavoidable. Because it’s so commonplace for people to do this, most often the apologies are glossed over as it’s just something everyone does.

If you find you need to shove your way out of a situation, here’s how to do it as politely and as respectfully as you can. First off, only push when you absolutely need to, and push gently and kindly with your body, not with your hands (if possible). If you’re carrying a bag or backpack, carry it in front or behind you so you aren’t smacking people with it as you pass through.

Also, you can let people know you’re getting off by saying “orimasu” (getting off) so they know why you’re pushing past them. Also, since people usually don’t apologize while pushing, if you do find you need to really move someone out of the way, you might as well throw a “sumimasen” out there just to be safe. For further reading on what to do (and not do) on trains in Japan, check out our How to be a Baka Gaijin (on Trains) post.

Yell to Get a Waiter’s Attention

Most of the time when you need something in a sit-down restaurant in America, you just wait for your server to come over to the table. Usually, it’s not too long because they need to make sure they meet your every need as they’re working hard to get your tips. Not so in Japan. In America, it’s considered pretty rude to snap your fingers or yell out for some service. In Japan, you can just yell out “sumimasen” and someone will be right over to help you out.

I actually had firsthand experience with this at a restaurant in Tokyo. My friends and I needed some water with our meal, and the waitress was just going about her job doing other things. When we realized she wasn’t going to come over on her own to check up on us, one of the guys yelled out “sumimasen” and she came right over to help us out. It feels a little strange at first to shout for service in a restaurant like this, but it’s just what they do there.

Slurp Your Noodles

In America, you’re not supposed to make slurping noises when eating anything. No slurping soups, noodles, or anything. In Japan, however, slurping is just the opposite. It’s polite to slurp. When eating ramen, soba, udon, etc, feel free to slurp as loudly as possible. Some say it helps to cool down the temperature of the hot noodles as you eat them, and others say it enhances the flavor. Whatever the reason, don’t be afraid to slurp away!

For many foreigners, myself included, slurping foods in this way just seems strange and I could never seem to get used to it so it’s just something I don’t do, even in Japan. For further reading on what to do and what not to do when eating in Japan, check out our How to be a Baka Gaijin (While Eating) post.

Lift Your Plates and Bowls

This kind of goes hand in hand with slurping, but in Japan, it’s perfectly acceptable to lift bowls up you your mouth as you eat them. This makes it much easier to shovel foods like rice and noodles into your mouth. In America, the bowls and plates are meant to stay on the table, and you’re expected to bring the food up to your mouth using your utensils. Japan (and I) think this custom is super dumb, so we lift the bowls up to our faces instead.

Drink Alcohol in Public

And last, but not least, one of my least favorite things about America, our inability to imbibe alcohol out in public. It’s really lame. In Japan (and a lot of other places, I’m sure) there’s no open container laws and you can drink some beers on the train back from school or work, out at the park, or by the beach. All with no worry of some police officer coming over to ruin your fun. In Japan you can drink wherever you like and it’s just great.

For us poor folks living in America, drinking out in public is a very bad idea and we have to do all our drinking activities in specified establishments or within the confines of our own property. Maybe one day it’ll change. Probably not though. For more info on how drinking works in Japan, you can check out our post on How to Drink in Japan.

And More…

These are just 7 of the things that are discouraged/encouraged in Japan but are the total opposite in America. I’m sure there are other things that conflict with other countries’ ways of doing things as well. But for us Americans, the above list is a great introduction into what things aren’t as common over in Japan as they are at home.

So tell me, have you ever been surprised by one of the above customs? Can you think of any others? How many of these Japanese customs are identical to how things are in your home country? Let us know in the comments!

Header image by Jeff from Houston

  • Ben Steed

    Very interesting! I knew about the slurping and lifting, but that was incredibly informative. Certainly useful for when I travel there, thanks :)

  • Mandarina

    This post is really great =) I’m Italian and it’s interesting to see how many difference there are between Japan/Italy and USA/Italy as well. When I went to Florida 2 years ago I remember I was really surprised about tips. We’re kind of halfway between Usa and Japan about this: you’re not expected to give tips, but they are appreciated when you do :P And I agree with you about slurping, I could never do such a thing, and I find it really annoying when someone else does XD I hope to see more posts like this in the future, I really like it… Thank you =)

  • Nick Hattan

    The interesting thing about tips in America is not everyone gives them, anyway. Sure, they’re expected, but if you talk to a pizza driver, he might give you an ear full about it. Sometimes it’s a racial thing, sometimes it’s a status thing. But when you go to deliver forty pizzas and a guy hands you a $5 with a nice smile like he’s saving your life, you realize that sometimes people just suck.

  • R. Ali

    ha :D very interesting ….pushing an shoving on the Trains would totally annoy me lol…and in most cases I’d hold the door open for women or the elderly even if I get weird stares. :p I don’t live in the US so I do have to call for waiter service sometime. Holding the Bowl to my mouth I could get used to… and I don’t drink alcohol so who cares about that? lol

  • zoomingjapan

    For me it’s really interesting to see the differences between Japan and other countries as I only know about the differences between Japan and my home country, Germany.

    I totally enjoy not having to pay any tips and even get free water (or tea) on top of that!
    Also, I turned into a total noodle soup slurper pro. I figure it’s gonna be difficult when I visit Western countries, huh? ;)

    Drinking alcohol in public? Poor America I guess! *g*
    Japanese people are always surprised when I tell them that in Germany you’re allowed to drink alcohol in public when you’re 16 (well, “light” alcohol such as beer – obviously) ….
    In Germany we first learn how to drink a lot (with 16) and then how to drive (with 18). Can you see where this is wrong? XD

    Me being female I was surprised when I went shopping in a department store for clothes for the first time in Japan. You have to take your shoes off before you enter the changing room and often there’s also something to cover your face so that you won’t leave any make-up stains on the clothes.

    One HUGE difference is driving here in Japan!
    Well, obviously the don’t drive on the right side, but on the wrong .. ahr I mean left side! :D
    But what I mean is that …. first of all they drive extremely slow.
    On most highways the speed limit is 80km/h. C’mon!!
    I hate speed, but in Germany the SLOWEST you’re allowed to drive on the “Autobahn” (highway) is 100km/h. THE SLOWEST!!!
    So people drive as fast as their cars can. Some far over 200km/h!

    On the other hand .. just because they drive slow, they don’t drive very safely!
    In my eyes Japanese people have a total crazy driving style!
    Traffic light red? Push that gas pedal!
    Waiting to turn into a main road, but cars are coming? Who cares! They will stop for me, right?
    Uhhh -__-; ….
    I’m really surprised that despite that crazy driving style there aren’t many car accidents!

  • Krystal

    I totally love Japan’s lack of open container laws. Just saying. Not that I drink all that often, but it definitely made for some really fun nights <3

  • MrsSpooky

    When I’m going through a door, I do hold it long enough for the person behind me to catch it so it doesn’t slam on the person behind me. I also hold it for people whose hands are full and CAN’T get the door. Would I be weird doing that in Japan?

  • MrsSpooky

    A friend of mine had a waiter running after her to her car after she left a restaurant yelling that she forgot the tip. She yelled back “no I didn’t!” as she got in her car and drove off. True story.


    As some one who spent time in Southern China, yelling “Excuse Me!!!” is polite. In China, its “FUWUYUAN (WAITER)!!!” or “LAOBAN (BOSS)!!!” This is performed as a shrieking yell and to Americans sounds offensive/rude. And you have not experience train etiquette until you have rode the Hong Kong subway…the horror…the horror.

  • persianOUTKAST

    one of the most iconic things about Japan are the trains & the metro system; however, you used a picture of Seoul’s metro for the “Push & Shove” section? shame on you …

  • Shaun Krislock

    As soon as I saw this title, I thought “I bet slurping noodles is on that list!” :-)

  • Anne

    In Russia you’re also allowed to drink alcohol in public (who’da thunk it, right?) and tipping everyone and their mom isn’t really a custom, although tipping in restaurants is starting to become a trend. Although holding doors for ladies is a social norm even more so than in the U.S., and you’d be considered a baka gaijin (or tuPOY inoSTRAnets, as the Russians say) if you don’t vacate your seat for the elderly (especially elderly ladies) on public transit. Though we also tend to push and shove a lot in subway trains, streetcars, buses and the like, it’s definitely not as polite as in Japan. Sometimes people will get into rather heated arguments over the fact that someone was in someone else’s way.

  • Alexa VanDemark

    I stayed with a host family in Japan for a day last year, and my younger host sisters had caught colds, and were sneezing. For me at least, saying “Bless you!” after someone sneezes is a total reflex, and every time they sneezed, I said so to them (though they obviously didn’t understand, and thought I was just making noise, so they laughed). It made me wonder how to say it in Japanese, so I asked my professor when I came back to the States, and she said in Japan, it’s okay to just ignore someone sneezing. It’s going to be so hard to break that habit!

  • guyhey

    I hate tipping in America because it is expected. However, in Japan I did tip a few times because the service was above and beyond. Sometimes the tip was refused, and sometimes it was not. Still, I will do it in Japan when the service deserves it. I only do it in America to avoid getting my food spit in. I’d do it in America if the service deserved it, but I’ve never seen that happen. I love that Japanese people don’t understand why I need to pay them to do their job. They are already getting paid. We could learn from them.

    Although I wish I knew about speaking up or raising your hand to get service. I guess it never occurred to me to try.

    One thing that I will never get use to in Japan is the sniffling when you want to blow your noise. I guess it’s rude to blow your nose in public, so it’s considered polite to sniffle, even if it’s for 10 minutes, instead of excusing yourself. Personally, I’d rather them blow their nose. All of that sniffling is distracting. :)

  • larisa

    Slurping and bringing my bowls to my face: I do these things every time i eat (mind you I dont slurp super ridiculous) . I definitely get stares. I dont know why because im not necessarily doing it to get in touch with my Japanese side. More so because it is the most comfortable way to eat and not mess my clothes at work haha

  • Joe Simpson

    I don’t live in America, but to me (UK) it feels strange that tipping is a thing that you should do. If they provided crap service, they get what the menu says and that’s it. If I got nice service, then I tip.

    Also, I like being able to ask a waiter over. It’s really annoying when you want one having to politely signal one that you would like them to come over. Although, I never really eat in restaurants (last time, I fell over dropping salad everywhere in Pizza Hut :’) )

  • 古戸ヱリカ

    The correct response to that waiter would have been to yell out “Here’s a tip: cars are faster than people!” and drive off while laughing.

    It’s the polite thing to do.

  • 古戸ヱリカ

    The Japanese are busy people. They don’t have time for stopping their cars OR getting into accidents.

  • MrsSpooky

    If it’s crap service, you can leave a crap tip. If you want to REALLY insult the waiter/waitress, leave 2 pennies on the table. Friend in high school hated the waitress (she was a jerk to us), so she left her a 30 cent tip – in pennies. All over the table – sticking out of the mashed potatoes, etc. For myself, I tip at 20% and deduct for various infractions – rudeness is the worst. I think only once in the last 20 years have I had to tip someone less than 15%. Good tips are great if you eat in a restaurant a lot. Get a rep for a good tipper and they will take GOOD care of you. :)

  • MrsSpooky

    The problem is, in the US, the waitresses/waiters are paid with the assumption that they WILL be tipped, so they make less than minimum wage. A really good waitress on a busy night can make a LOT of money, and not from her employer. :) This is especially true of bartenders. They don’t pay them anything, that’s why tips are important in the US.

  • Sandra Lavigne

    anyone else notice the train one is a picture of Seoul Metro ?

  • guyhey

    Sorry. I didn’t mean to be vague. I know why the system is broken, but it doesn’t change my dislike of it. :)

  • Pascal

    I’m writing from Switzerland, and the only thing we have in common so far is that even here drinking alcohol in public is accepted. Everything else that is listed if done here ​​in Switzerland would be considered rude.

    (Sorry for my english)

  • Hashi

    Your English is fine!

  • Hashi

    Not in all states though. I’m pretty sure in my state (Oregon), wait staff are paid at least minimum wage, so should I have to tip them too?

  • Hashi

    Never mind that, did anyone notice that Cornell West is yelling at a waiter?!?

  • ジョサイア

    Thanks, Yet another step to prevent being a baka gaijin :D

    Great post >O<

  • ジョサイア

    Oh, so funny… xD

  • John


  • John

    haha, I totally forgot the taking off shoes in changing rooms thing, thanks for reminding me! Brings back memories of shopping in Kobe.

  • John

    I couldn’t agree more.

  • John

    Not weird, probably just not as expected as it would be here in America. It’d be a nice surprise.

  • John

    lol, I totally missed that it says “Seoul Metro” right on the train xD I was so absorbed with finding a decent picture of people getting on/off a train that I didn’t realize, haha.

  • John

    Oh yeah, I totally forgot about this too – thanks for reminding me!

  • ZenBrayn

    I once held the door open in Japan. I was there for literally (yes literally) several minutes. The stream of people was constant. Never again will I make this mistake.

  • Slurp-And-Lift

    Sometimes you wanna drink the broth of the soup, or get that stubborn last bit of rice, ya’ know? And what’s up with the slurping? It’s a wet noodle, amiright? But seriously, I’ve done those things for the same reason.

  • John

    hahaha, you poor thing :(

  • Nick Hattan

    What? Did TOFUGU just repeat a post? Am I crazy?
    Like seriously. I already had a serious dejavu today, I don’t need assurance I’ve gone back in time.

  • Hashi

    This post accidentally went up yesterday, but it was intended to go up today. Sorry for the confusion!

  • ジョサイア


  • John

    Yeah that was my bad, lol.

  • Chester

    I once stepped forward to get the door for a little old lady, and she got this terrified look on her face and rushed to the door as fast as she could.

    Opening doors for people is so foreign here, that it triggered a “fight or flight” response in this little old lady because she had no idea whatsoever why I would be rushing to the door ahead of her. Was I trying to cut her off? Attack her? Why was I moving so fast towards that door?

    That’s what cultural differences do. That’s culture shock in the most literal sense: what’s normal to me and you triggers a response in another person that neither of you can predict. Holding the door becomes fight or flight, and suddenly you’re racing obaa-chans into a conbini.

  • dratcat

    I’m from Australia. Tipping generally isn’t done here. Sometimes there will be a glass or whatever at the counter for you to place tips in at cafes and restaurants, usually not. If I get exceptional service from a particular waiter, I will tell them to keep the change once I pay the bill, usually a few bucks.

    If you really want to show your appreciation for good service in Australia, a better thing to do is to post a recommendation on the cafe’s Facebook page or website – that’s generally much more appreciated than a one-off of a few dollars, because it’s building their reputation and potentially bringing in more customers. It’s turned out good for me, too – the last time I recommended a place online, they remembered my name and face the next time I went there and gave me a free coffee and smilier service.

  • HatsuHazama

    Too bad you can’t do this in America…

    Lucky I live in England :-)

  • spiel

    Just because you can do something doesn’t mean it is encouraged. In normal day-to-day life no-one will come up to you and say “Oh hai there! Do take this beer and run around like crazy!”

    There are some good reasons why I think drinking alcohol in public should be discouraged, so it really bugs me when you say it is encouraged when it is simply not banned. That’s like saying reading hardcore porn manga is encouraged just because it is not banned.

  • Jessica May

    I think it is officially forbidden to drink alcohol in public in France (at least in some towns, since the regulations may vary), but they never actually managed to make people respect this law :) By the way your website is great, I’m new to it but already addicted!

  • 8cake

    Also, don’t hand your money over directly if you can help it (when paying for something), put it on the tray provided. If you must hand it directly, use two hands (the way you would also hold a business card in Japan).

    Don’t make smalltalk with serving staff (like at a supermarket checkout) and don’t randomly smile at strangers in the street (/ make eye-contact). This is kind of to do with inside-outside group culture, and kind of to do with keeping oneself to oneself. And kind of to do with the culture of reciprocal relationships.
    Took me, like, months of nodding and smiling at people as I walked up to the shops, before I clicked as to why they were all so grumpy-seeming.

    Be quiet on trains, don’t talk on your phone, don’t turn your music up so loud others can hear it outside of your headphones.

    Don’t wander around eating, and don’t eat on public transport unless it’s a properly long trip (like a shinkansen trip).

    As for tips: America, whaaaaaat. How do your lives work. And I still can’t fathom why you don’t write your tax included in the whole price, like sensible people (Australia). You have to do crazy percentages in your head just to work out if you can afford a sandwich with the money in your pocket?

  • John

    Awesome, glad you enjoy it! :D

  • John

    Hahahaha, yeah – America can be pretty silly like that sometimes.

  • piderman

    I find the “bike entrance” sign to be pretty amusing :)

  • piderman

    In the Netherlands you can drink in public but you can’t be drunk :)

  • John

    haha, well that’s better than nothing

  • John

    Well, they do sell beer in vending machines, so it’s not exactly being discouraged over there. I think people should be able to drink in public as long as they aren’t being a nuisance.

  • Nick Hattan

    It’s all good. Just making sure I wasn’t completely lost.

  • FoxiBiri

    Haha what? What are all these stories of people freaking out if you hold the door open for them? Until now I didn’t even know you shouldn’t… like I know chivalry never happened in Japan, and it’s not “normal” but every time I opened a door for someone or held it open for them to pass through, I either got a normal human response or even more often a heartwarming smile and tiny little bow.
    I’m a big believer in door opening and I open everyones doors with smiles!! Maybe you other gaijin are just doing it wrong xD

  • Ishimaru

    A lot of places have signs saying you can;t smoke on the streets. Here in the UK, it’s the opposite, smoke outside; not in!

  • John

    It’s not so much something you shouldn’t do, it’s just one of those things that is much less common just because in Japan, holding doors open for ladies was never associated with chivalry. It’s not discouraged, just uncommon when compared to the US. And like that one person said, sometimes people get confused and race you to the door xD

  • spiel

    But neither is it encouraged.

    And at least over here in Germany, where drinking in public is allowed, I find it to be a big nuisance. For example there’s a lot of people who drink a beer after work, on crowded trains… Yeah, super yummy smell (please note the sarcasm). Not to mention all the broken bottles and vomit left behind. Indoors as wells out outdoors. Then there’s also the people that get either really loud or really aggressive the more alcohol they consume… or overly friendly *shudders*

    Sure, it’s mostly because there’s so many rude idiots around, but if it was banned those things wouldn’t be a problem anymore.

    (Sorry if your comment voting got messed up. Accidentally pressed down-vote instead of reply and when I tried to rectify it with an up-vote it somehow ended up as -1 up and 1 down…)

  • Trela

    Had just arrived in Tokyo and was waiting for a train during morning rush hour with my luggage and briefcase in hand (first time taking a train in Japan). Was thrilled when one of the train doors opened right in front of me. I was body surfed into the train with hundreds of other commuters, packed like a can of sardines. Five stops later I found my luggage intact at the other end of the car. Welcome to Japan!! Had a similar experience in Singapore taking a hotel elevator. Excellent post. It brought back memories.

  • asdfggwert

    lol, I noticed that too. They’ll never live that one down -.-;

  • ryuma



  • Taro

    Surprised, prettry well observed and described on the Japanese behaviors.
    There may be witnessed drunken Japanese (on the way home from “izakaya” tavern) in the train at night.
    But the act of drinking itself “in the coummuter train” is very unusual and considered uncultivated behavior even after the sunset.
    Although, it’s possible in the other trains such as in Shinkansen – bullet train, express or local trains for private or business trip. In there, some people enjoy drinking in day or night.
    For person thinking about trip in Japan, try it with “ekiben” boxed meal in the train and enjoy the archipelago freely.

  • Murthy

    information has been introduced in,

    presents wonderful topics related to Japan.

    as Ryuma pointed out, the picture No.4 (subway) shows a scene in South Korean.
    you !

    information has been introduced in,

    presents wonderful topics related to Japan.

    as Ryuma pointed out, the picture No.4 (subway) shows a scene in South Korean.

    you !

  • Mat

    I dont understand why in the US its rude to call for attention (you dont need to “yell”). So what if the waitress totally forgot you and you want some water ? you just wait ?? anyway if Im not wrong “sumimasen” means “excuse me” no?

  • David Gasper

    Agreed. I live in the US too. America should be ashamed of itself XD

  • “That Guy”

    The train in that picture was a train in seoul, south korea lol.

  • Heiangirl

    I found people in a movie theater in Kyoto took off their shoes while watching the movie and either had their feet resting on top of them or the shoes were strewn every which way. You had to be careful if you needed a break and had to make your way in the dark through the obstacle course. Some people also did this on longer train rides and even sometimes on not so crowded subways. I found shoes on men pretty sloppy looking as they were so used to throwing them off and wiggling back into them without tying or untying the shoe.

  • Simcitysocial Mania

    1, 2, 3, 4, & 7 are the same in Pakistan

  • Jonadab

    > Tipping is a huge part in the day to day lives
    > of the average American. You tip your waiters,
    > cabdrivers, bellboys, and bartenders…

    You, sir, watch too many movies.
    Cab drivers are part of everyday American life only in the very largest cities (New York, Los Angeles, and maybe a couple of others). In the rest of America, everybody over the age of 16 is expected to own at least one car. Bellboys, to the best of my knowledge, exist only in fiction (and mostly in _bad_ fiction, at that). I’ve never seen one in real life; in fact, I’ve never even heard a supposedly-true story about somebody’s friend-of-a-friend who had dealings with a bellboy in real life. People have told me they’ve met the President. People have told me they’ve seen ghosts. I know someone who once met Robert Wadlow (the tallest person in modern medical history). Nobody has ever told me they’ve ever seen a bellboy. Bartenders exist, of course, but most Americans never encounter them either, at least in the Midwest, on account of the fact that only the least-respectable 2% or so of society is willing to be seen going into a bar. (Even most people who drink regularly and to excess generally avoid going to bars, due to the stigma. They get their beer at the supermarket or drive-through and drink it at home, in private, because they’re embarrassed. Many Americans keep beer in the garage, rather than in the house proper, to avoid any possibility of guests seeing it in the fridge.)
    We do tip waitresses in America. That one’s true.

  • Fakhruddin Ahmad Darwis

    I’m from Indonesia. Most of these things are also common in my country, except the tip and beer things.

  • J-san

    This post is full of beans, and very funny! I just had a bellman (boy) yesterday! (didn’t HAVE him, just had one help me). And Bartenders are everywhere! I don’t know what midwest town the poster comes from but in California we enjoy going to bars AND having beer in the garage. Both work!

  • SY G

    Perhaps your experience is just a Midwest thing?
    I’ve lived in Washington and Florida, and travelled by car through all the west coast states and the southern border states, and that’s simply not the whole story.
    I HAVE seen bellboys (it’s just rare, because they’re basically only in the fancier hotels and resorts. One resort I went to scheduled the bellboy service, because they switched our rooms without our consent, and they had at least 3 or 4 guys doing that job), and I haven’t seen the stigma toward bars except in certain areas. Even if it’s not a bar, many, MANY other kinds of sit-down restaurants feature a bar area (steakhouses, Applebee’s, I could name more).

    So I’m guessing it’s a Midwest culture thing. :/

  • Troof

    Open container laws in the US were created as a way to arrest homeless people and protesters who would otherwise be on public land breaking no laws.

  • supriya

    Some customs are similar to Indian customs – like shouting out to waiters, holding bowls up and overcrowded trains!!

  • Anna Li

    Yay!!! Slurping and lifting! I think it’s hard to NOT slurp and/or lift that bowl up to your face. Plus, no mess! Who knew?

  • Ken Seeroi

    And that’s why we live in Japan.

    Especially the one about calling the server to your table. The opposite (American) method is just asinine, where the server has to come by every five or ten minutes to interrupt you and check if you need anything.

    But that’s what they do there.

  • Aerii

    Somehow, I didn’t expect an ad on Nico Nico Douga to lead me to… a Tofugu article…

    which apparently links to a translation/summary thing of the article here (IDK, I don’t read Japanese):

  • xasca

    the subway is korea not japan

  • 1734856493827563498756


  • Moof

    pretty funny that you talk about crowded trains and can only compliment the scene with a picture of a Korean train.

  • josh

    In England everyone drinks in public :P
    I’ve seen people drinking beer on things like buses, with picknicks, but mainly just out walking on the street

  • CatTasticLuv

    This was interesting to read. I have always been curious about the differences between Japan and America.

    I was astonished at the slurping and lifting a bowl to your face (something like that.) Don’t get me wrong, I am not disgusted or anything like that, I just found it surprising. In America, you are always told not to slurp and to keep your plates and etc. on the table most of your life. I find it interesting the difference on how Japan sees it. And now that I think about it, keeping stuff firmly on the table, especially soup, is a little weird. It would be a lot easier to lift it to your face.

    If I ever went to Japan, I would probably be that one American who holds the door. xD I’ll have to keep this in mind: Do not hold the door.

    Again, interesting read. I actually like most of Japan’s customs.

  • Frank Burns

    In many places in America, the “Land of the Free” one can’t open a beer anywhere except in their house. Go figure.

  • AnonymousArizonan

    Just a midwest thing? Cabs are ridiculously rare in the actual west, too. (Arizona, California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, you get the idea.) And, there’s no bellboys. Many in younger generations in western U.S.A. do frequent bars and clubs, however, so bartenders are normal to see/meet. However… As far as I know no one in western U.S.A. requires tips to live off, they simply rudely expect and demand it, thinking they have a birthright to extra pay they never deserved in their life. (I’ve never in my life heard of bartenders being tipped, just of people paying for their drinks as required. They’re usually not tipped in movies or TV shows either, so I think it’s entirely made up that bartenders are normal to tip.)
    Tip culture is one of the stupidest things in the entirety of the Unite States, and needs to be outlawed. What do we have minimum wage laws for? It is illegal to pay below minimum wage without a special reason to do so. Stop treating waiters/waitresses like they live out of dumpsters. They are living better than folks on food stamps. It is BS to claim they don’t make minimum wage while working full-time jobs, as that is illegal. And, yes, I do suspect that they lie out their rear-ends when they complain about pay, since they usually don’t do that, and since they tend to be doing well enough financially. If any are really getting paid below minimum wage while meeting the laws to get it, they should either take the boss to court, or find better employment, instead of volunteering to be victims.
    Many places in the United States also have strict rules against tipping, or include “tips” in the bill. This tipping culture nonsense seems to mostly be an east coast thing… And, boy, do morons get in a huff in defense of it, thinking their tips are all that keeps server job persons alive (it’s not, you’re being scammed).
    As for tipping delivery persons… We do do that in the west. But, I don’t understand why, as delivery persons are paid very well. (I knew an individual who had done that line of work, specifically of pizzas, at numerous points in his life. He stated it’s a high paying kind of everyday job most don’t want to do… Like working technical support. And, it came off as also an easy job to get. You are required to have and use your own vehicle, however.)
    Frankly, I think it’s mostly rich people, people in service jobs, and people who have done service jobs in the past who are so frykyn gung ho about tipping.
    Oh, and, no, tipping’s not as common as the gung ho people claim. Most Americans do not regularly do anything that either requires tipping, or has an option to tip. Rich people need to pull their own heads out of their butts, and get in touch with reality. Most Americans rarely ever eat at a real restaurant, have never seen a bellboy in reality (same goes for pool boys, and cabana boys – most hotels and motels don’t have bellboys or cabana boys at all), and don’t use taxis of any kind. Bartenders, as far as I know, are usually regular staff. Most Americans just tip pizza delivery boys, and maybe a waiter/waitress/busboy/bussgirl at somewhere like IHOP or Denny’s. (Usually going to a restaurant is for special occasions. Somebody died, or somebody is having a birthday.) (Disclaimer: Some abnormal people without money sense do regularly frequent real restaurants, causing unto themselves debt, and obesity, just from this one bad habit. They’re more likely to have worked in a restaurant personally in the past, and to have friends who currently do so.)
    The picture of Americans as regulars at nice restaurants, nice hotels, using taxi cabs, etc. is entirely based off: Fiction, New Yorkers, and rich people (such as movie stars, and CEOs). To say that represents normal Americans is to say that the rich orphans in anime represent Japanese people norms. Any “American” saying otherwise is… Certifiably insane, lying about being American, from the east coast (especially New York), or in the below 1% of people in the country who are actually rich. You could officially call them… Unamerican.

  • AnonymousArizonan

    You’re probably rich. Everyday motels and hotels don’t even employ bellboys at all from what I’ve seen. You don’t represent everyday Americans, and need a reality check. I have stayed in plenty of hotels, and motels on family vacations throughout the west coast (very much including California, which is in almost every trip I have been on in my entire life), and they don’t have such people. You carry your own things to and from your room. Bellboys are a thing of highly expensive, rich people hotels.

  • Anonymous

    I honestly thought that my marriage was healthy. i loved my husband with all my heart. we was married 8 years and have a 3 yr old son. we bought a house 2 months ago. i told him i was pregnant…then he starting acting strange. he didn’t want me to keep the baby. one day i decided to tell him i could not go through with not having the baby (about 2 months pregnant), then he tells me he doesn’t love me anymore. 2 days later he tells me he cheated on me and wants a divorce. he has since (2 weeks) been really cruel, cussed at me, told me he was going to file kidnapping on me, and has generally acted like i am a doormat. the other woman even contacted me and told me she is going to be my children’s stepmother. i know that the affair was not very long because he met her 3 months ago. i don’t know what has happened to my husband. i cannot eat or sleep and only have a sister with minimal finances. i completely alone and scared. i needed help because i don’t know what to do. he filed for a divorce with a lawyer. so 3 days later a friend told me about a spell caster, i contacted him and told him my problem and what i wanted and after 3 days he brought my husband back and made my husband a changed man, he is now a good man.
    Shannon Monique from Texas

  • Spam hater

    go f@#k yourself.

  • be polite

    you got into all these troubles to post spam? have a life, pal.

  • El Barto

    The crowded train in Japan is NOTHING compared to Jakarta.

  • MrAmanojaku

    In Califorina, they are not paid less than miniumu wage.

  • MrsSpooky

    I’ve only lived in New York State and Florida. Not sure about Florida, but in NYS (and this WAS a while ago), they were paid much less than minimum wage. I probably do need to catch up,but that’s my experience.

  • Fakhruddin Ahmad Darwis

    Ha..ha.. couldn’t agree more.

  • Brock

    Aussies in general are renowned to be cheap, at least the people I encounter while they travel overseas, constantly looking for the cheapest place and a freebie anytime they can find it. If sharing the cost of anything, they will pay their fair share, but never a penny more. Aussies basically feel superior to NewZelanders (Kiwis) but inferior to Americans and are always trying to take a jab any chance they can against the “Yanks”

  • justsaying

    Funny article but you have a picture of the Seoul Metro for trains.

  • Mrca

    “And I still can’t fathom why you don’t write your tax included in the whole price, like sensible people (Australia).”

    Capitalism mofo’, people think something costs less than it is, owner gets more money. There is no way you couldn’t “fathom” that without me explaining it to you, but it’s always fashionable to take a desperate shot at the United States, no matter how stupid the reason.

  • McMillin

    Also, in Japan (I’ve done this many times, even in Tokyo) it is completely legit to set down you bag to save your spot (like at a coffee shop), even if no one else is there. I’ve seen people set down cell phones and ipods as place holders too.

    I really am going to miss having to tip for service, though where I’m from in the states a dinner or lunch out is still cheaper after tax and tip than a meal in Tokyo.

    I know the majority of the girls in my study abroad program were often distressed by the squat toilets (less common but they seem really common in train stations). I’m more outdoorsy so I didn’t really care, I think in general no matter where you come from/where your going you have to set aside the little things, because I found that it was the little things that drove me nuts (water saving mechanisms – the water turns off every 30 seconds- on the showers in my dorm brought me to tears many a time). The big things like language difference were more navigable because they are more obvious to all parties involved.

  • Fang the Hedgebat


  • Yumitolesson

    I didn’t realize that any of these were taboos in other countries..I grew up slurping noodle just like dad, forced myself into the jammed packed train…I don’t know if I can do that anymore. lol