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SSJup81 (Offline)
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07-01-2008, 04:19 AM

Originally Posted by MMM View Post
Are "hmm..." and "well..." really frowned upon in English? I don't think so.
It probably depends on the person listening. I know that some English teachers I've had was very strict where grammar was concerned, and would get on students vehemently if mumbling when talking or using "um" or "hmm" and such, like we were hesitating in our speech.
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.
My Japanese teacher does this. I've noticed it.
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...
Ironic, my teacher has done this before as well. I found it odd, then figured that since she was on a cell phone, she probably thought she might've had a dropped call.
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Paul11 (Offline)
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07-01-2008, 04:29 AM

Originally Posted by SSJup81 View Post
It probably depends on the person listening. I know that some English teachers I've had was very strict where grammar was concerned, and would get on students vehemently if mumbling when talking or using "um" or "hmm" and such, like we were hesitating in our speech.My Japanese teacher does this. I've noticed it.Ironic, my teacher has done this before as well. I found it odd, then figured that since she was on a cell phone, she probably thought she might've had a dropped call.
This is called aizuchi. It means doing what you described to show the speaker that you are listening. It's considered polite and necessary.
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loveinjapanese2014 (Offline)
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03-05-2014, 07:38 AM

Originally Posted by mamadoom View Post
Having a rich culture there are certainly things to do and not to do in Japan..

Can anyone give me advice on how to be most respectful and avoid being rude inadvertently???


- When someone greets you, greet the person back in a lively manner.

- Bows and handshakes are both acceptable forms of greeting in Japan. When thanking someone or apologizing, it is respectful to bow.

- Address other people by their last names followed by the suffix ‘-san’ but do not add any suffix to your own name when introducing yourself.

- Do not use your cell phone when you are on a train or a bus.

- Shouting in public, even if it is to call the attention of someone, is unacceptable behavior.

- Respect the personal space of others, avoiding excessive physical or eye contact, at all times.

- When sitting on the floor, do so with your hands on your lap and your legs tucked under you. For women, sitting with both legs to one side is also acceptable while men can sit with legs crossed.

- If someone offers to help you, it is polite to refuse initially. If the offer is made a third time, you may accept.

- Eating or drinking while walking down a street is considered rude.

- It is customary to hold the bowl of rice in one hand (the left for right-handed people) rather than set it on the table, and to use your other hand to hold the chopsticks.

- When using chopsticks, do not point them at other people, wave them in the air or spear food with them like a fork. You should also never stick your chopsticks into a bowl of rice since this will make them look like sticks of incense. If there is a communal dish, get your portion using the opposite end of the chopsticks (not the one you put in your mouth). When you are done eating, simply put down your chopsticks in front of you facing left.

- Soy sauce is the most popular Japanese condiment. Even so, you should refrain from pouring it over your food unless you are eating tofu. Rather, dip your food into the soy sauce.

- Finishing your food to the last grain of rice is preferable.

- Slurping noodles is NOT considered bad manners. Try to avoid having the noodles fall back into the soup, though.

- When eating miso soup, which is served all over Japan, drink it from the bowl then eat the solid pieces using a chopstick rather than eating it by the spoonful.

- When drinking sake, wait for someone to pour for you. Conversely, you will also be expected to pour for others. When someone offers to pour for you, stretch out your cup or glass using both hands. If it is still full, quickly empty it before stretching it out.

- When dining out at a Japanese restaurant, a hot towel is usually provided before the meal. Use this for your hands only.

- When drinking tea, do not ask for sugar or cream.

- Gulping down your drink is not considered bad manners. Gulping down food, however, is.

- When dining out or paying for items at a cashier, you may be presented with a small tray. Place your payment on the tray instead of handing it directly.

- Tipping is not a custom in Japan and therefore, will be refused. When this happens, do not insist but simply say thank you.

- If you are paying by credit card, offer it using both hands.

- The Japanese follow their schedules strictly so you should never be late for a business appointment.

- Do not wear bright-colored clothes when at a business meeting.

- Always hand out and receive business cards with both hands and do not put them in your pants pockets.

- If you are taking notes during a business meeting, use blue or black ink, never red.

- When the meeting is done, wait for the other person to stand before standing up yourself.

- Do not refuse an offer to visit someone’s home while visiting Japan. It is considered a rare honor.

- It is polite to bring a wrapped gift for your host – food or drink is preferred – but humbly apologize that it is all you can bring, even if it is expensive and worth bragging about.

- Upon entering a house, remove your shoes and place them neatly at the entrance. If there are slippers provided, use them. If you are wearing sandals, it is polite to bring a pair of white socks with you to wear inside the house after taking them off.

- When using the bathroom in someone’s home, you will notice that bathroom slippers are provided. Use these when inside the bathroom but leave them there afterwards.

- If you are staying overnight at a Japanese home, you will likely be offered a bath. Keep in mind that baths are shared in Japan, and as the guest, you will likely get to use the bath first, so do not drain the water or dirty it.

- Public baths, particularly those fueled by hot springs called onsen, are common in Japan, with separate ones for men and women. Wearing a bathing suit, or anything else for that matter, in the water is not allowed.

- You will be expected to wash and rinse at a shower facility or bathing station before using the onsen, same as you would with a public swimming pool.

- Do not soak or dip your towel into the water. Rather, leave it at the side or place it on top of your head.

- If you have tattoos, however small and unoffensive, you may not be allowed to use the onsen.

- Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines are some of the most visited attractions in Japan, but you must not forget that these are also sacred places so you should be very respectful.

- At a temple, it is customary to burn incense and offer a prayer. When finished, do not blow the incense out. Rather, extinguish the flame by waving your hand, fanning some of the smoke towards you.

- If you are asked to remove your shoes before going inside a temple, do so.

- At a shrine, take the ladle at the purification fountain and rinse your hands, then pour some water into your hand so you can rinse your mouth, spitting the water just beside the fountain. Do not raise the ladle directly to your lips and do not swallow the water.

- If there is a gong, ring it before praying. This will get the attention of the deity residing there.

Hope it helps
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