From showing your tattoos to slurping your food: The do's and don'ts before heading to Japan

Credit: PA Images

In less than a fortnight’s time, the Rugby World Cup will kick off in Japan. A sea of fans from all corners of the world will descend on the Land of the Rising Sun for one of 2019’s biggest sporting events.

An estimated 50,000 people from the UK are expected to visit the country, where manners speak volumes.

Japan is a beautiful country with unique customs

It is a unique country can be intriguing for a first time visitor.

Here are our top tips on how avoid an awkward encounter.

  • Do's

Carry cash

Japan may be at the forefront of technology but only around 20% of transactions are cashless.

Carry cash with you as 20% of transactions are cashless in Japan Credit: PA Images


Bow politely when you meet someone new.

A bow can range from a small nod of the head to a deep bend at the waist. A deeper, longer bow indicates respect and a small nod with the head is casual and informal. Bowing with your palms together at chest level is not customary in Japan.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel bows before the Japanese Emperor Akihito Credit: PA Images


Slurping your food or drink is considered standard practice in Japan and a sign you're enjoying your meal.

Slurping food like noodle soup is a sign someone is enjoying their meal Credit: PA Images

Take your shoes off

When entering homes, traditional hotels or temples, you will be expected to remove your shoes and put on slippers (which are usually provided).

The practice is done mainly for cleanliness and believed to go back over one thousand years.

Taking your shoes off before stepping inside temples or restaurants has been tradition in Japan Credit: PA Images

Wait for the green man

Pedestrians should wait until it's safe to cross even if there are no cars in sight.

Streets can get extremely busy in the cities Credit: PA Images

Carry a passport

You must carry your passport or residence card at all times in Japan.

It's considered an offence not to carry ID Credit: PA Images
  • Don'ts


It’s not a necessary custom in Japan and staff will feel embarrassed if you do.

Tipping is not a necessary custom in Japan Credit: PA Images

Show your tattoos

Tattoos have a long association with organised crime in Japan. If you have a tattoo, try and cover it where possible.

Cover up tattoos where possible Credit: PA Images

Blow your nose in public

Avoid blowing your nose in public as it is considered rude.

If you need to, take yourself away from others or go into a bathroom stall. Always use a clean paper tissue and throw it away after use.

It is considered rude to blow your nose in public Credit: PA Images

Misuse chopsticks

It is polite to hold chopsticks near the end. Don’t chew, lick or leave chopsticks standing in a bowl as it is associated with funerals.

Credit: PA Images


Public bins are almost impossible to find, but people are encouraged to dispose of their own rubbish whether at home, work or in public toilets.

People are encourage to dispose of their rubbish at home or at work Credit: PA Images

Pour your own drink

Allow someone else to pour your drink for you as it is customary to pour drinks for others in your party - and don't forget to say kam-pai (cheers!).

Allow someone else to pour your drink for you Credit: PA Images