It’s always fun and interesting to learn about other countries, their society, culture, moral values and of course, the guilty pleasure knowledge of their taboos.
The Japanese, while largely a very shy, humble and respectful culture also have many things that you just don’t do or talk about in public or behind closed doors. There are many differences between the Eastern and Western worlds – if you’re going to Japan on a visit anytime soon the following is a list of things from: “Complete Idiot’s Guide to Conversational Japanese” @ Tofugu.com that are important for you to be aware of… If you know of any to add to the list, please comment below. Thanks!
~ No public displays of gas. Do not burp or fart in public. Even if you try to recover and say “Excuse me”, it’s not acceptable. So, avoid beans and soda.
~ Don’t touch your nose or any body fluids. This means no ear digging, nose picking or spitting.
~ If you have a sickness, wear a mask. This is like a careless person who sneezes or coughs all over the place without covering up. It’s just inconsiderate.
~ Never stick your chopsticks upright in food (means death) or let anyone else use your chopsticks.
~ Never give scissors as a gift (means severing ties with someone), or give chrysanthemums as a gift (it’s the flower they give during a funeral.)
~ Never give anything in 4’s. One of the ways to say 4 in Japanese is “shi”, which means death in a different context.
~ Always remove your shoes when you enter a house and put on slippers. Even when you go to the restroom, make sure you remove those slippers and put on a different pair. Cleanliness is extremely important to the Japanese because the Shinto religion requires it and because of that, it’s inbred into the culture.
~ Always eat whatever is in front of you. Don’t question the food unless you’re learning Japanese and don’t know what it is in the English language.
~ Don’t talk about WWII or the Sudo – Japanese war. Just don’t talk about war period.
~ Be extremely polite. Anything less than polite will make people disrespect you. Never be a loud tourist. Try to blend into the culture.
Also, there are different mindsets circling around Japan called “nihonjinron” theories. They’re ridiculous, like as if the Japanese brain is magically different or superior over other races. For example: They believe they are the only ones who can speak correct Japanese, etc… It’s slowly dying down, but for the most part it’s still there.