Here are some helpful tips to make your stay in Japan more enjoyable, and perhaps a little easier!
RAN OUT OF MONEY? It can be frustrating trying to find an ATM that will accept an out
of country card. Don't worry! Just find a post office (say it like this: yoo-bean-kyo-coo).
They all have international ATMs, where you can get cash until usually 4 or 5 pm most days.
The shared baths can be a little intimidating for some people. Don't worry, they're easy to
use! There are separate baths for men and women, and certain times of the day they can be
used. The first thing to remember is that in Japan, the bath is not for washing, only for
soaking after you get clean at the shower area.
Some things are considered rude while eating, you should avoid:
-Passing food from your chopsticks to someone else's. During funeral ceremony, the bones
of the deceased are passed from person to person with sticks. Re-enacting this ritual at the
table with food is a no-no.
-Sticking your chopsticks into your food (bowl of rice, etc) so they are sticking straight up.
Also related to funerals, this is the style of burning incense at the ceremony.
-Using your chopsticks like a tool. Don't move plates, etc around with your chopsticks, they
are for picking up food only.
-Examine food on a shared plate by touching everything with your chopsticks. If a group of
people are sharing a plate, choose which food item you want to eat, and pick it up with
Some other tips on dining:
-In some other countries, people are used to having a waiter constantly checking your table to
see if you need anything. In many japanese restaurants this is not the case. Once you get
your food, they leave you alone to enjoy your meal, and will only come back when you get
their attention. To do this, simply say: "Sumimasen!" (Sue-mee-mah-sen). It means "Excuse
me!" and you will get prompt attention. It also works if you need to ask a question of
someone or need help in a store. If you get in someone's way on the train or bump into them,
this word can also be used, like "Oh, sorry!"Probably the most useful word you can learn
before you come. :)
-If you are eating ramen, udon, or any noodle in a broth, slurp your noodles through your
chopsticks, and they won't spray as much broth all over you and the table. (Thanks, Taro!)
-If you are having a terrible time with chopsticks, don't be afraid to ask for a fork. They will
be happy to give you one they have it. Also, convenience store workers usually ask foreigners
if they want chopsticks or fork when buying obento. chopsticks in japanese is hashi
-Point at people
-Use your cell phone on any public transportation (train, bus, etc)
-Talk loudly on public transportation
-Cut to the front of the line when waiting for bus or train
-Wear house slippers on tatami floors
-Take off your shoes when entering a home. Also, some restaurants require your shoes to
come off. If you see wooden boxes or lockers with shoes in them by the door, or shoes lined
up in the entry, take em off. Some restaurants have you leave your shoes at the step up to
where your table is located too.
-It's a nice thing to give up your seat on a train or bus if an elderly person gets on and there
are no seats.
You must know that some Japanese people are very shy. Some visitors mistake this as
dislike. If you say hello (konnichiwa) you will most likely receive a smile and a return hello. If
you are lost or need help, they always do their best to help you. If you learn a few japanese
words, you can make many friends, many people here are very interested in other countries'
Here are some words you may like to know:
delicious! = oishi (oh-ee-shee)
thank you = arigatou gozaimasu (ah-ree-gah-toh-goh-zah-ee-mas)
I'll have a beer (when ordering) = Bi-ru kudasai (BEE-ru-coo-dah-sigh)
key = kagi (kah-gee)
hello = konnichiwa (koh-nee-chee-wah)
good morning = ohayo goziamasu (oh-ha-yo-goh-zah-ee-mas)
good evening = konbanwa (cone-bahn-wah)
train station = eki (eh-kee)
where = doko (doh-koh)
I like it! = suki desu (skee-dess)
I don't like it = suki janai desu (skee-jya-nigh-dess)
I can't = dekimasen (deck-ee-mah-sen)
What is it? = nan desu ka? (nahn-dess-kah)
Is it fish? = sakana desu ka? (sah-kah-nah-dess-kah)
See you later!= matane (mah-tah-nay)
Goodbye! = sayonara! (sah-yoh-nah-rah)