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Things you should NOT DO in Japan

22.10'13 - Jörg Nitzsche, Japan Interpreter
Categories: Japanese Language

You are visiting Japan and you have gathered all possible information about Japan, including the best time to visit, the best places to see, food to enjoy, things to shop and do, and so on and so forth. But if you are going to Japan on business, you would need to know more than that. Probably having a Japanese language interpreter or Japanese language translator at your side would be simply great. He can guide you throughout and can make your business trip comfortable and smooth.

However, here are a few things that you should not do in Japan. Keep them in mind to avoid offending your Japanese business colleagues.

  • If you are taking a gift for your Japanese client, make sure that you do not carry anything which is in quantity of four. Number 4 is considered unlucky and is seen as the number of death in Japan.

  • Use your chopsticks carefully when dining with your Japanese colleagues. Do not pass food using chopsticks as this is something that the people in Japan do with bones of the cremated person at the funerals.

  • You must not stick your chopsticks into the rice as this again is practiced at the funerals. In Japan, they stick chopsticks into the rice for putting it on to the altar.

  • Never enter a Japanese house in your usual shoes. The host would provide you with slippers at the doorway, known as genkan. Even while entering the washroom, you must slip into the washroom slippers provided outside the washrooms in private homes and at hotels and restaurants. But do not forget to change back your slippers.

  • Avoid casual clothes when going for a business meeting in Japan. You must dress appropriately if you want to be taken seriously by your colleagues in Japan.

  • If you are given a business card, never put it into the back pocket of your trousers. Place it in your shirt pocket or in your wallet.

All the points discussed above many sound to be too trivial. But they do hold a lot of significance in Japan and if you want to avoid the cultural faux-pass and do not wish to hurt your business colleagues, you must keep them in mind.


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