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Living in Japan can be tough, but learn a few basic rules and life becomes a lot easier! Here’s our rundown of what to do and not to do in Japan.

Bowing
A lot more complicated than it seems, with rules including the depth and direction of the bow. Most Japanese are happy to shake hands with non-Japanese but if you want to get it right, then a semi-formal bow would be about 30 degrees from the waist.

Paying
When in shops or restaurants, if there’s a small tray next to the register then place your money there. It’s a breach of etiquette to hand the money when there’s a tray present.

Wedding Gifts
If invited to a wedding it’s normal to give a gift of money in a special sealed envelope. The amount may depend on the group of people, their status or it may be a set amount. It’s considered inappropriate to give an even amount of notes or to give 40,000 yen as 4 (shi) sound phoentically like death in Japanese.

Eating in Restaurants
There’s a variety of rules associated with dining in Japan. Here’s some of the most important (most relating to Chopsticks!)
– Unlike China it’s considered polite to clear your plate.
– Never rub chopsticks together
– Don’t pass food from chopstick to chopstick
– Don’t stick your chopsticks upright in your rice
– Don’t spear food with one chopstick
– Don’t leave chopsticks in your mouth while doing something else
– Don’t use your chopsticks as toys, putting them up your nose may make a funny photo but it’s not polite!
– Don’t point at people with your chopsticks

As you can see there are a lot of rules relating to restaurants especially chopsticks and this doesn’t cover all of them! Most of the reasons these rules apply is because certain acts such as putting the chopsticks vertically in rice relate to death and funeral traditions. More etiquette in the next issue!