Anyone who has been to Japan would tell you that it is a unique country – a seamless blend of old traditions and new cutting-edge technologies. Picturesque natural landscapes can be reached just a short train ride from sprawling cities, providing visitors with the best of both worlds. The distinct uniqueness of its culture and language makes it the perfect destination for one to experience a memorable adventure. If this is your first time visiting Japan, there are several things that you should take note of before you step in the land of the rising sun.
The Japanese are known for good manners. One great etiquette in the country is that on public transport you should not talk on your phone. You will notice that everyone is quiet on trains and buses, much to every passenger’s delight. If someone talks on the phone loudly during his ride, he may most likely receive judgmental stares for doing so. Similarly, if someone’s phone starts ringing loudly its embarrassed owner would be fumbling to quickly silence his phone. Refraining from talking on the phone on public transport is a great representation of the Japanese culture of respecting other people’s space and privacy. It is unusual to see people sleeping, working or reading on public transport, hence the importance of keeping noise levels down during your travel time on public transport.
The level of attention to detail and great service is at the core of every Japanese. In Japan, you do not need to open the taxi door to enter the car. All you need to do is to wait by the rear door of the taxi, and the driver will open it with the push of a button or lever on the console. The remote opening and closing of the door represent excellent service by the taxi driver, in addition to their immense politeness and cheery faces. These, in turn, add to the comfort level of the passengers, indirectly making their day better.
In many countries, it is a common sight for public spaces to have many trash cans for easy disposal of rubbish on-the-go. However, in Japan, it is apparent to travelers to notice the lack of trash cans even in public spaces. The Japanese are used to carrying that piece of receipt, tissue paper or wrappers until they can dispose of them properly. It is interesting to see how clean Japan is despite the lack of trash cans in the country. Psychologically, people are also less likely to drop litter if their surroundings do not permit them to do so, in this case, the lack of trash cans in public spaces is the perfect example of “out of mind, out of sight”.
If you stumble across people wearing surgical masks in public in Japan, do not panic! They are certainly not germaphobes who are afraid of falling sick. In fact, surgical masks are worn if a person is already sick and wants to protect the public from catching the same illness too. It is common courtesy for the Japanese to help stop the spread of germs to the others, so if you find yourself feeling under the weather during your trip remember to be respectful and don a surgical mask as you travel. However, it is not always due to health concerns that people are wearing masks – many young people have been doing so for cosmetic and comfort purposes, somewhat a cover-up to shield against social situations.
Taking some extra time to understand local customs when traveling would enable you to feel more connected to your experience once you are at your destination. Nothing beats learning about the country that you are visiting before you go and finally experiencing for yourself during your visit the things that you have learned prior to the trip. With a country as unique as Japan, the memorable life experience would be etched in your mind forever!