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What NOT to do in Japan

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Published on Mar 17, 2012

Japan is an awesome place to visit, and no one should let "rules" get in the way of that! But Japanese culture can be very different to what we're used to at times, and some things we do that may be acceptable for us can be surprising and rude in Japan. My husband, Jun, and I put together a list of the most common things we see that can cause trouble (I speak from the perspective of having done all of these!) Mainly, this is if you plan on establishing yourself in a Japanese community through work/family--if you're visiting as a tourist then you don't really have to worry so much about it. :)

As a foreigner you won't be held to the same standards as Japanese people, but if you want to give a really good impression then these are some guidelines you can follow! None of these are things you HAVE to do. They are ideals and not always the followed practice. I just always think it's better to know the ideal standards and then you can choose how closely you want to follow them!

Rule of thumb: Just think about how your words and actions will affect the people around you before you do something! It's as simple as that. :)

Useful Japanese phrase: shouganai (しょうがない) - It can't be helped.

It's pretty similar to "shit happens." You're essentially letting a bad situation slide off your back instead of internalizing it.

FAQ:

"Can I still listen to music/text on the train/bus?"
Yes--sorry I wasn't clear. I meant only making a call on your phone. You won't be strange or rude at all if other people can't hear what you're doing!

"So you can't be outgoing in Japan?"
Of course you can! Sorry for being unclear on this, too. By "don't be emotional" I meant negative emotions. Everyone loves happy people! And some places it's perfectly fine to be loud--just take your cue from the people around you. :)

"So I shouldn't go to Japan? I'll stand out anywhere."
Again, sorry for being unclear! Yeah, foreigners are going to stand out, period. Mainly I meant through actions and not looks, but even then Japanese people don't expect foreigners to know their customs so it's fine to make mistakes! I've done EVERYTHING in this video (and still do some of them), which is why I wanted to talk about it in the first place!

"What about customizing food if I have allergies?"
A lot of restaurants list common allergens on their menus. If you're not sure you can always ask! And you can always ask to see if they'll customize your order--it's just never worked for me.

"Do I have to talk like a robot like you? :( "
No, I just suck at public speaking.(° ▽ °;)We had like maybe a dozen subscribers when I made this video and never expected it to get so much attention. I had no idea how it would end up being perceived and if I could do it again so I didn't sound so "strict" or "uptight" or scare people off from Japan then I would in a heartbeat! My new videos are less crappy. Sorry! :(

For the opposite perspective: "What not to do in America" for Japanese people - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tYCQ6...

★ Patreon! http://patreon.com/rachelandjun
★T-shirts & Merch! http://rachelandjun.spreadshirt.com/

【You can also find us:】
×Gaming channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Racheland...
×Extra videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/Racheland...
×Jun's Kitchen: http://www.youtube.com/user/JunsKitchen
×Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/rachelandjun/pro...
×Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RachelAndJun
×Twitter: https://twitter.com/RachelAndJun
×Instagram: http://instagram.com/rachelandjun
×Our blog: http://rachelandjun.blogspot.com/

Comments • 11,603

Rachel and Jun
Pinned by Rachel and Jun
FAQ: "Can I still listen to music/text on the train/bus?" Yep! I only meant making a call on your phone (and of course if it's an emergency then use your discretion). Do what you want on your phone as long as you have headphones and whatnot! University buses are also unique in that they're super loud, so if you study abroad and take a designated school bus then you don't have to worry as much since everyone else is shouting, too. "So you can't be outgoing in Japan?" Of course you can! Sorry for being unclear on this. By "don't be emotional" I meant it from a negative connotation aspect, so negative emotions like anger, impatience, etc. Everyone loves happy people! And some places it's perfectly fine to be loud--just take your cue from the people around you. :) "So I shouldn't go to Japan? I'll stand out anywhere." Yeah, foreigners are going to stand out, period. Mainly I meant trying not to stand out through actions and not looks, but even then Japanese people don't expect foreigners to know their customs so it's fine to make mistakes! I've done EVERYTHING in this video (and still do some of them), which is why I wanted to talk about it in the first place! It's up to you how much effort you want to put into assimilating and respecting the native culture, but as long as you make an attempt to be polite (even if you fail) then most Japanese people will be super happy. "What about customizing food if I have allergies?" A lot of restaurants list common allergens on their menus. If you're not sure you can always ask! And you can always ask to see if they'll customize your order. I still try every now and then and over the years more places have been saying yes. "Do I have to talk like a robot like you? :( " No, I just suck at public speaking.(° ▽ °;)We had like maybe a dozen subscribers when I made this video and never expected it to get so much attention. I literally had no experience with YouTube and I had no idea how this video would end up being perceived. If I could do it again so I didn't sound so "strict" or "uptight" or scare people off from Japan then I would in a heartbeat! My new videos are less crappy. Sorry! :( For the opposite perspective: "What not to do in America" for Japanese people - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tYCQ661FII
View all 43 replies
Crimson-fox Twitch
Rachel and Jun +Rachel Even I'll admit it, you actually look really cute.
Lucas Henrique
some japanese people want japanese subtitles.
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Basselies Spudeck
If u don't want thousands of stares dont yell Senpai notice me.........
View all 12 replies
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Justy Na
so you can't get upset at all? let your feelings out? no wonder the suicide rates are so high in Japan
View all 8 replies
Raechelxx
Trying not to show emotion isn't just a thing in Japan honestly, other Asian countries I have been to are the same. They express joy, happiness, etc with friends but definitely not anger/yelling!
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Haitani
And never forget: If you like it or not, YOU are representing your country! If you misbehave then you disrepute your country!
View all 23 replies
jonavuka
do people actually think that... oh shit i better not because of country's image is at stake
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David Evans
"Try not to be alive" and you'll do just fine in Japan.
View all 4 replies
coffeeNcreambaby
David Evans LMAO
Jr B
David Evans Welp In USA, be emotional as f you'll be fine XD
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Carl Smith
so if I get shot should I laugh it off and say shikata ga nai?
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Ruth Hingston
I appreciate your tips. We should respect other people's culture when in their country.
Wesley
Kieran Weir she's not over the top. It's the way things are. Don't get mad or hostile at her just because you don't like the culture.
Kieran Weir
Ruth Hingston nah she's just over the top
Kai Strachan
American girls would be bad in japan
View all 10 replies
nateisbaked
+Thot Loud black girls can be just as bad.
Rune Estas
Thot - I don't care though. If people don't like who I am they should just reply, 'it can't be helped' to that as well.
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Shin Tuxedo
if my voice is loud generally can i say 'shouganai ne'?- asking for a friend.
View all 5 replies
Renato Amboss
If a japanese person were in fact to call out a younger person, what would they typically say?
Deniz Kendirci
"shitsurei shimasu" maybe?
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HellloJerry
r u an elf
View all 16 replies
Kelly Medley
As in keebler or legolas?
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