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NTREEG (Offline)
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05-29-2008, 04:06 PM

More tips:

When you enter someone's home, say "ojamashimasu" (sorry for interrupting you). As you're leaving say "ojamashimashita" (sorry for having interrupted you).

At some restaurants / bars you'll need to take off your shoes. Basically if there's a raised platform that you have to step up to, it's very likely you're supposed to remove your shoes. Last week I got yelled at for wearing shoes into a fitting room at a clothing store. I should have known better when I saw the platform but I wasn't thinking about my shoes.

Never attach the title "-san" to your own name. Definitely attach the "-san" title to everyone else's name unless you know them extremely well (i.e. your girlfriend / boyfriend).

If you're spending the night at a family's home, they'll often offer you the privilege of being the first to bathe. I didn't understand this the first time it was offered to me and I committed a faux-pas by refusing the first bath (as I prefer to shower in the morning). Some Japanese house holds reuse the bath water for the whole family. If this is the case, the bath tub is not for bathing (i.e. soaping up). It's for relaxing in after you've already soaped up and rinsed off in the shower outside of the tub.

If you're having dinner at a restaurant and someone treat's you (pays the bill), say "gochisousama deshita" to the person that paid the bill.

If you're out drinking with a buddy and you're sharing a bottle of beer, fill his glass for him. They'll fill yours for you.

If someone cooks something for you, say "oishii" after taking a bite. It means "delicious". Say it even if it's not really oishii so as not to hurt their feelings.

If you smoke, be careful where you smoke. Some streets forbid smoking even outdoors.

If you're a guy and you're taking a train, be careful that you're not stepping into a "women only" car. There's usually a pink sign somewhere letting you know if it's for women only.

At many hotels, you're supposed to leave your room key at the front desk before going out for the day (quite different from the U.S.). Some business hotels have rules against bringing guests up to visit your room, even if it's just for a short while. BTW, if you enter your hotel room and can't figure out why the lights won't turn on...you have to stick your room key into a special slot before it'll turn on the electricity.

The Japanese have different trash cans for burnable and non burnable garbage. It's a forgivable mistake for non-Japanese to use the wrong bin, but make an effort to find the right one when you throw something away (at restaurants, convenient stores, etc). Recyclable plastic drink bottles are called "PET bottles" and they usually have their own trash can.
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babylj (Offline)
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06-25-2008, 03:35 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuroneko View Post
Ok to continue from where I last was.


While you are eating you might encounter what I call "the silence". Don't alarmed most Japanese don't find this strange at all. "It is a time to reflect on ones self and straiten out your thoughts", said to me by one of my good friends. Don't try and break the silence as you would in a Western setting. It might be very awkward your first time, but you'll get use to it with time. Also let your host show your to your seat. Most Japaneses do not like it when there guests wander around there house. (I know a lot of American people don't like this too) Before you eat you say "Gochisosamadeshita" which means I gratefully receive. "Itadakimasu" is said after you are done eating (kind of like thanks for the food)

When in a more formal setting (while wearing Yukata/Kimono) remember to follow the host instruction. Its okay if you don't get it, your host will understand. Don't forget to take off you slippers before you enter a room with Tatami. (looks like woven grass) When you are done eating leave your dishes/bowl. DO NOT bring your dirty dishes to the kitchen, your host will clean up for you. If your are still hungry don't ask for more food , just simply leave some rice in you bowl. Your host will see this as a sign that you are still hungry. (she/he will then refill your bowl.)

Drinking most certainly my favorite thing, but there are some things to remember. Japanese despite their die hard work ethics, like their Sake. If you get the chance you should go drinking in Japan. Most likely you'll be invited by a bunch of your friends. If you don't feel like drinking you could politely decline, but this is seen as kind of "I don't really feel like Im good enough friend to go drinking with you." This in turn makes them try harder. You could get by not going to a couple of get togethers, but sooner or latter you should go.

Now when you are drinking with your friends watching a drunk Sato-san on the Karaoke you might notice your friends poring Drinks for each other. This "poring" is a very strong Japanese drinking custom. It shows your trust for one another and bonds the Japaneses more closely together. Theres not much to it just don't pore for your self, pore for others when there glass if empty or low. If you want more sake (alcohol) just hold you glass up with both hand, it will soon be full to the top.

Now if your one not to drink there are some alternatives to which you can take. Fist is nomemasen which means "I can't drink." not to be confused with nomimasen which meand "I don't(or won't) Drink" Know if you want you could go with Orange juice for your friends to pore for you.


Well thats all i have to say about that. Sorry for the long ass Post. Hope this helps to give you some Ideas for dos and don't.
Itadakimasu is said before eating and gochisosamadeshita after eating..
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TalnSG (Offline)
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06-25-2008, 04:46 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuroneko View Post
While you are eating you might encounter what I call "the silence". Don't alarmed most Japanese don't find this strange at all. "It is a time to reflect on ones self and straiten out your thoughts", said to me by one of my good friends. Don't try and break the silence as you would in a Western setting. It might be very awkward your first time, but you'll get use to it with time.
While this silence is to be observed there is another that is not, apparently.
When spoken to, my language teacher has pointed out the it is necessary to respond immediately in some manner. Fillers in English are frowned upon ("hmm ....", "well...."), being considered useless stalling. But in Japanese to be quiet while composing your reply seems to be interpreted as ignoring the other person. We have been instructed to make full use of "eeto", "ano", etc.


Only an open mind and open heart can be filled with life.
*********************
Find your voice; silence will not protect you.
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Crea (Offline)
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06-30-2008, 08:16 PM

Don't know if this is exactly a nationwide "rule", but when I was in Tokyo, my friends told me to keep left at all times, like on sidewalks and especially escalators. On sidewalks it's less 'enforced' but in general crowds walk on the same side of the street.

On escalators though, you might get some annoyed "sumimasen's" if you're standing on the wrong side. Stand on the left, walk up the right side of the escalator.

I heard it's actually stand right, walk left in Osaka though?


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MMM (Offline)
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06-30-2008, 11:01 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TalnSG View Post
While this silence is to be observed there is another that is not, apparently.
When spoken to, my language teacher has pointed out the it is necessary to respond immediately in some manner. Fillers in English are frowned upon ("hmm ....", "well...."), being considered useless stalling. But in Japanese to be quiet while composing your reply seems to be interpreted as ignoring the other person. We have been instructed to make full use of "eeto", "ano", etc.
Are "hmm..." and "well..." really frowned upon in English? I don't think so.

Are you sure your teacher wasn't talking about being an "active listener"? In Japanese it is common to "n...n...n..." as someone is talking to indicate you are listening and following along. If you don't, people think you are ignoring you. How many times have I been on the phone with a Japanese person and had them say "moshi moshi" in the middle of a conversation because they thought we were cut off...
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StripMahjong (Offline)
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07-01-2008, 02:23 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crea View Post
Don't know if this is exactly a nationwide "rule", but when I was in Tokyo, my friends told me to keep left at all times, like on sidewalks and especially escalators. On sidewalks it's less 'enforced' but in general crowds walk on the same side of the street.
Sort of related to this, I'd love to know if there is any sort of "unofficial rule" in regards to who is expected to get out of who's way when confronted with a bicyclist as a walker. My friend and I had a lot of trouble knowing who should move (i.e., the walker getting out of the way of the bicyclist or the bicyclist going around the walker), and it seemed like we always made the wrong choice and ended up frustrating the bicyclist, even with us on the correct side of the sidewalk. Ultimately, we sort of ended up with an uneasy truce of us getting out of the way of bikers coming towards us, but letting those coming up from behind go around. Still, I'd love to know the unofficial rule (if one even exists) for the next trip.
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07-01-2008, 03:03 AM

Be aware of the little tray thingy they use for all exchange of money - when paying for something you put your money into the tray, and they will place any change into this tray for you to take. I got a few confused looks when trying to put cash into their hands, although I guess they must be used to foreigners doing this. It does make it a lot easier to dig out mounds of coins though, it's really easy to build up a big collection of them.

I completely forgot about the not eating while walking thing and did this often... I guess they're used to foreigners doing this in large cities too, I didn't notice any strange looks. Although if you know it's better to try and be polite!

There's some places you can't take photos... such as in pachinko parlours (although the guy was very nice and apologetic and bowed a lot as he did the 'dame' cross arms sign and asked me to put away my camera) and I think in parts of some temples.

If you ask someone in a shop for directions, be aware that they might leave what they're doing and escort you right to where you need to go. I always felt a bit bad about interrupting their work when all I wanted was for them to point in the right direction!

If you're just going for a holiday don't worry too much if you don't have a fantastic grasp of Japanese - in the larger cities and tourist areas they speak bits of English and you can get by alright with this and some miming. And there's no need to be embarrassed of less than perfect Japanese (like I was for the first couple of days of my holiday) - everyone is generally really encouraging, impressed and genuinely flattered that you bothered to learn even a few words of Japanese. I think it's also polite to be encouraging when Japanese people try to use English because they're overcoming their embarrassment and trying hard too


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Shinshiro (Offline)
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07-01-2008, 03:07 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nyororin View Post
A really odd one that no one seems to know (until they`ve been here and scolded for it) is to make sure you use *both* hands while eating. Don`t leave the plate sitting there and just pick things out of it - actually pick it up, or at the very least hold it still (even if it is big and doesn`t move) while you`re eating. Don`t move your hands out of sight below the table while you`re eating.

I am not really sure of the origins or reasons for this, but having come from a family where we never put the hand we weren`t using on the table, and picking up a dish was taboo - I was scolded quite a few times in the first month I was here.
Yeah this is true. You should pick up the plate you’re eating off of and bring it closer to you when you eat.

Also, NEVER pass food from chopsticks to chopsticks. This is only done at funerals when chopsticks are used to pass the deceased’s bones from one family member to the next. It is very rude. Be careful!
Another thing, if you’re sharing a plate of food, don’t eat directly from the communal plate, but take a bit for yourself and place it on your own little plate (which they always provide you in Japan) before eating. When taking your bit from the communal plate, it’s polite to turn your chopsticks around and use the ends (where you mouth has not touched) to take your bit of food.

In any case Japanese people are generally very tolerant when gaijin’s do something out of the ordinary, and would let you know kindly if you have done something weird.

Oh and wipe your hands with that towel thing they give you at restaurants before eating, not after. (Maybe its just me who does it after, lol).
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j1mbafr0sty (Offline)
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07-01-2008, 03:09 AM

wow this is all good stuff! I will keep this all in mind and go back to this thread when I go to japan (^__^)
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Paul11 (Offline)
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07-01-2008, 03:22 AM

Not too much eye contact when speaking with people. Proxemics and nonverbal communication are very different. But they are powerfull controlling forces on our way of communicating. Typical western way of holding eye contact during a conversation will make people uncomfortable. You might also find it difficult not to do so.

Also, if your in someone's home and use the bathroom, don't forget to take off the "bathroom slippers" in the bathroom and walk around the house in them.

In a restaurant, if you wait for service you probably won't get it. If you need something call out, "sumimassen." the wait staff will respond. If you did that in the states, they would probably spit in your food. It may feel like you're being rude, but it is the way.

Just a few off the top of my head.
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