Things To Know Before Visiting Tokyo

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There is so much to learn about Japanese culture and it’s impossible not to know everything. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give your best. Here are some of the most important things to know before visiting Tokyo.

The vibrant capital Tokyo has a unique culture of its own and is an ever-evolving scene of social norms and conventions. While some other traditional customs are slowly being phased out as the city becomes more cosmopolitan, it’s a good idea to know what they are so you don’t get stuck.

Things To Know Before Visiting Tokyo


Things To Know Before Visiting Tokyo | Greetings

As with most forms of etiquette, it is best to follow the instructions of your companion or person who introduced you. Just know that those of lower status bow before and more deeply than the elders. However, most Japanese, especially the younger crowd, won’t expect you to bow, but will instead shake hands. If you’re meeting up with friends, you’ll want to find something more casual like ossu, like saying “hey” or “what is up”.

Smaller is better

It doesn’t matter what you’re eating: eel, sushi, noodles, sweets, cocktails. Small establishments are where shokunins do their jobs. You might be scared to walk into a six-seat bar, but this is where you’ll find the good stuff – where the chef and staff (most likely husband and wife) are dedicated to their craft. Unique places require an invitation or a Japanese guest to accompany you, but the city is bursting with cozy, intimate establishments that are dying for a chance to blow your mind.

English is scarce

English is scarce in Japan

Solar eclipses are not rare, but close. Fewer people in the world speak less English than the Japanese, which means you’ll need to hone your body language skills, learn a few key phrases, and be ready to laugh at yourself in many other situations. . together. A somewhat embarrassing situation is sure to follow you across the country. Memorize ten or fifteen culinary words you might use when you go to a restaurant and can’t read a single symbol in one of the three Japanese alphabets. Above all, remember the two words “yes” or “yes”, the most valuable word in the dictionary, a single high-pitched syllable that you can transform into something like a conversation. . Tone and pronunciation can bend words into dozens of different meanings – from “Yes, I am a huge fan of this beautiful and exotic country” to “Of course I want you to soak me in unfiltered sake”. Also, you wouldn’t want to say no to the Japanese, would you? Do not think so.

Tenderness is king

Japan is a society with deep traditions and procedures that can be confusing to outsiders, but doing it right can really make a difference for you and your host. Some basics to remember: In Japan there is almost no personal contact, so pay attention to your body and be prepared to bow rather than shake hands (bow gently to friends and family) , bow deeper from the waist for business relationships or important people). Punctuality – the Japanese make the Swiss look down on punctuality, and whether meeting friends or making dinner reservations, you should arrive 5 minutes early. Hiking and any other common offense is more annoying than you think, so avoid it. And in general, avoid anything that draws undue attention to yourself or those around you; While you’ll never match, the Japanese value sophistication over aggressive individuality.


Service is one of the most important things to know before visiting Tokyo. Westerners are very familiar with greeting employees, thanking store employees and leaving tips for waiters when eating out. In Japan, things are a little different. There’s no need to respond to the resounding irasshaimase (welcome) that greets shoppers at every turn, or the early morning bow to greet the first customers of the day. There is also no need to leave a tip as the service charge is already built into the bill.



Knowing how to use chopsticks is very helpful and it really doesn’t take long to learn. Many traditional restaurants may not even have alternatives other than Chinese-style soup spoons, and eating noodles using that can be a challenge. Never rub your chopsticks together at a restaurant (like you’re saying, ‘these are cheap’). And if you were given disposable chopsticks, put them back in the paper bag and fold the corners when you’re done eating.

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