Dos and Don’ts

Chopsticks: Don’t use chopsticks like a fork and knife; most dishes are pre-sliced or can be chewed off and put back on the plate. Always put chopsticks back on your plate or chopstick holder; it’s considered rude to be talking while holding and twirling them around.

Punctuality: Japan runs on a schedule, and being on time means being five to ten minutes early, especially in business.

Talking in Public: “If you’re traveling with others on the subway, keep your voice down. You’ll be the only one heard if you speak loudly.”—Steve Beimel, founder, Esprit Travel & Tours, Japanese cultural tourism specialists. As the announcements on the Limousine Bus service clearly state: “Portable telephones should not be used aboard the bus, as they annoy the neighbors.”

Tipping: Enjoy and appreciate the national no tipping policy. If you need to say a special thank you, a note to the manager will suffice.

Umbrellas: If it’s a rainy day, always wrap and snap your umbrella after using, and leave it in an umbrella rack or use the plastic sleeves provided by many establishments.

Personal Hygiene: Blowing one’s nose in public is considered rude. Excuse yourself and head to the nearest restroom if you have to clear your sinuses.

Phrase Book

Japanese pronunciation is straightforward. A=“ah”, e=“eh”, i=“ee”, o=“oh” and u=“oo.” A circumflex (example: ô) elongates a vowel.

Ohayô gozaimasu: Good morning

Kon-nichi-wa: Hello or good day

Konban-wa: Good evening

Arigatô: Thank you

Sumimasen: Excuse me

Onegai shimasu: Please

...O kudasai: Please give me...

...Wa doko desu ka?: Where is...?

Ikura desu ka?: How much does this cost?

Eigo ga hanasemasu ka?: Do you speak English?

Eigo no menyu ga arimasu ka?: Do you have a menu in English?

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