9 Surprising Things I Learnt About Japan

Almost no bins yet no rubbish!

Imagine your culture included taking your rubbish with you wherever you went. I love this- that absentmindedly or not, it was expected that everyone would treat public places with respect and not litter.

Lines & order are important

This I LOVE. Getting into trains was enjoyable as I stood where I was told through directions on the ground. Then for anything else it was assumed everyone would wait patiently in a long but fast moving que- and they did.

Hospitality is key

From generous pours or Sake to friendliness from any staff I came in contact with, hospitality was next level in Japan. I was so impressed at the work ethic and cultural view towards working hard- especially when tips were not part of the hospitality culture.

People work & play really hard

In the cities people work long hours so it’s not unusual to see many people sleeping on trains and drinking at VERY late hours. It felt strange being at bars at decent times and them not being very busy, as I was told the locals would not start arriving till much later- when I intended to be sound asleep.

Plastic not so fantastic

For a country that is so innovative I was surprised at how much plastic I saw. Plastic bags offered with every purchase, spare plastic bags given with tourist gifts as it’s seen as rude to give a gift with a wrinkled bag, plastic cutlery wrapped in plastic with every food purchase. I guess coming from a country where it has been such a hot topic lately, I had assumed it would be in Japan as well.

People like to see what they’re eating

Watching food being made to me feels like I’m spying when I don’t have to. Now this isn’t always the case with special food train restaurants, but a lot of cheap eats involved me sitting on a stool around the kitchen where my food was being made. It was a cool experience to see how everything was made!

On that note, don’t eat & walk

This I learnt before I went to Japan by watching vlogs of foreigners who lived in Japan. Essentially, it’s rude to walk while eating. It’s actually something I had to consciously stop myself from doing sometimes and you’ll notice some tourists getting stares if they do it. Just stop to the side and finish your food before continuing.

Sniff all you like

Another custom I learnt beforehand and witnessed a lot. It’s rude to blow your nose in public so if you need to, you should sniff instead. Knowing this, I was aware but watching other tourists reactions to constant sniffs was amusing.

Happy music really does help your mood

I’m talking the particularly happy music around train stations. But maybe so does public transport that’s on time (looking at you Australia)?

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