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5 Social Habits You Need to Know About When In Tokyo

By Edited Oct 20, 2016 6 7

5 Social Habits You Must Know About In Tokyo

There are many reasons for visiting a foreign country, usually causing problems is not one of them.  Modern cities have an entire structure of social habits to work smoothly.  Tokyo has several that may surprise you.

SOCIAL NORM #1

NO PHONE CALLS ON THE TRAIN

This may sound very strange when considering the urgency of business culture of Japan -but Tokyo residents do not answer their cell phones once they are on the train.  There are many reasons for this, the most important being that it could bother other people.  The train is a grey zone of public / private space in Tokyo.  If you can help it do not invade other people's space at all while on the train.

 

SOCIAL NORM #2

CARRY A HAND CLOTH IN YOUR BAG AT ALL TIMES

Public (and even some private) bathrooms DO NOT HAVE PAPER TOWELS.  You are expected to carry a hand cloth with you at all times.  This can be useful when you set your cold water bottle down on a desk or table and it 'sweats' a small pool of water, or when you have to wash your hands in a bathroom at the mall. You will be left wringing your hands and wishing you had one, trust me.  

 

SOCIAL NORM # 3

STAND ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE ESCALATOR

Unless you are walking up the escalator, move to the left and wait your turn in line.  You will find yourself causing anxiety for many frantic business people running to meetings if you stand on the right side.  The left side is reserved for those standing and the right is for those who are running late - for their train or meeting or bus etc... Best to stay out of their way.

 

SOCIAL NORM # 4 

WAIT BEFORE LEAVING, WAVING AND SAYING GOOD-BYE

Japanese people wait until their companion is completely out of view before they turn to leave.  If you are the one to exit the train or car etc... Stand and wave saying good-bye politely until they are carried out of view.  It is considered rude to simply exit the train and turn to leave, even if you have said you good-bye already.

 

SOCIAL NORM #5

BRING DESERTS, SNACKS, TREATS BACK FROM VACATION

If you are living in Tokyo, you will have noticed that Japanese people LOVE to give snacks and sweets to co-workers and friends.  When you go on a vacation or road trip (no matter how small) outside of the city, bring back snacks from the place you visited.  There are snack shops outside of almost every train station in Japan for this reason exactly.  If you return empty-handed, people will be disappointed.  

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Comments

Aug 17, 2011 2:45am
delo1
Wow, just the sort of things every traveller going to Tokyo should know. Can you give me tips for going to Dublin. I don't want to offend people by not knowing what is acceptable when visiting their city.
Aug 18, 2011 2:30pm
vicrichardson
I went to Japan twice and never learned any of these things! Thanks for sharing this. I wonder what the reason for the personal hand towel is, whether it is economics to save on paper, or personal hygiene by carrying your own hand towel. Where is a guy with no briefcase supposed to carry it?
Aug 25, 2011 2:20am
raybansun
Great article,really helpful.
Aug 29, 2011 1:09am
JadeDragon
I never knew any of these things - very useful. The side of the escalator to stand on is opposite to what we do in North America. Maybe this is because we also drive on the right.
Aug 29, 2011 5:56am
Aziza90210
good read.
Sep 2, 2011 5:14pm
danmont
I would be happy if phones calls are banned in British trains.
Sep 2, 2011 7:05pm
Tandrea101
Interestin
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