Japan Etiquette – 20 Things NOT To Do In Japan | Rules & Good Manners

Japan Etiquette - Remove Shoes

Japan Etiquette – Japan is a country that welcomes tens of thousands of visitors as its peak. It’s fast becoming one of the most popular countries to visit in the world and has even landed on the list of becoming one of the most popular places that people want to move to!

It’s incredibly alluring lifestyle and perfect mix of traditional culture with modern-day advancements continues to fascinate people from all around the world.

However, as you may have heard by now, it’s a country that runs on fairly rigid rules. Most of the time, foreigners are forgiven for breaking some of the social etiquette expected to be upheld in Japan. It is still polite, though, to make the effort to understand what some of these are so that you can actively avoid offending locals.

Below we’ve listed the top 20 things you should not do when you visit Japan.

Don’t be too hard on yourself and expect that you will be able to remember every single one, every single time. However, be conscious that this is how the Japanese people live and they will appreciate you making the effort!

1. Remove shoes when entering most indoor areas

Removing shoes when entering a home is a common rule for most Asian households. This is no exception in Japan. However, this country may take it a step further than you are used to.

Some workplaces, restaurants, and even schools and accommodations will expect you to take off your shoes when entering.

For most of the public places, there will be a shoe locker for you to store your shoes in before entering, so there is a safety measure in that. Most of the time, with any restaurants that have tatami mat floors, this is the case.

Accommodations such as traditional ryokan and capsule hotels will also require …continue reading


Scandal Recap: On the Infamous “Golden Screen” Event

Many readers may be wondering what exactly Masahiko Kondo did to be hated by housewives across Japan so much. It wasn’t like he had killed anyone so clearly the anger is out of touch – or so I used to think.

I was incredibly naive.

Trigger Warning for mentions of suicide!

Any fan of Akina Nakamori knows about the infamous 1989 suicide attempt, wherein Akina had attempted to commit suicide at Kondo’s apartment in July 1989. Like most I had not thought too much into this, simply assuming that it was due to FRIDAY publishing reports in February of that year that Kondo had been cheating on her with Seiko Matsuda, long known to be Akina’s major rival. During a time when even a regular relationship between idols was scandalous, this sort of love triangle – with Akina‘s main rival, no less – was absolutely earth shattering.

But according to the republished articles that FRIDAY is running this week, the problems were much worse than I could imagine. While it was well known that the couple, who by that point had been going out for six years, had very different attitudes towards marriage, what is less known is the fact that Akina had financed much of Kondo’s side hobbies, including car racing. In fact, this was later confirmed in the 90s when journalists from FRIDAY spoke with staff at Akina’s former agency confirming the existence of debts Kondo owed to his ex-girlfriend and her agency to the tune of several tens of millions of yen.

Even after the tragic suicide attempt, it was clear that the two were still in touch, and Kondo was still living far beyond the means afforded even to a Johnny’s idol at the peak of his career. This is the backdrop to the infamous “golden screen incident“. …continue reading


Korea and J-Pop: Correcting the Record

Over the past couple of months with the debut of groups like NiziU and JO1 there has been a rise of what I would call “popularity alarmism”. This is a feeling that is very real on both sides of the strait with K-pop fans becoming alarmed by the number of non-Koreans in K-pop, and J-pop fans lamenting over the supposed lack of popularity that J-pop suffers in Korea.

South China Morning Post article on the debut of NiziU
Unseen Japan also weighed in on this issue

This is honestly a topic that I’ve both really wanted to address, but also have completely been disgusted by the current coverage, the above included. This frustration is due to multiple fronts.

  1. Most of the coverage seems to assume that much of the censorship was only on one side, like the Unseen Japan or South China Morning Post article, thereby completely missing the primary rationale behind the birth of groups like JO1 and the various seasons of Produce 101 Japan. The way that the birth of these groups has been covered – both within Korean language press and overseas – has completely erased the impact of Japanese anti-Korean racism on the reception to all-Korean groups in the past, right down to completely ignoring the extremely controversial decision to erase all K-pop groups from terrestrial television from 2012 onward. It was only due to a heavy marketing campaign selling TWICE as a Japanese group that they even got on Kouhaku, and yet this effort was not even worth a mention to anyone of note either in Korea or overseas. The equivalent for more Western-centric readers would be to try and explain why Elvis Presley made it with not a single mention of …continue reading

Japanese Bathing Culture: Basic Manners and Best Bathing Experiences around Tokyo!

As you might know, Japanese people love to take a bath and soaking in a bath is a Japanese custom that today is still very much alive. Although taking a shower is becoming more and more popular especially among young generations, it is still part of the daily routine of many Japanese people and an important cultural aspect. For international tourists, enjoying the Japanese bathing culture is something that shouldn’t be missed. In fact, it is one of the many reasons to visit Japan! In this blog, we will introduce the history of bathing in Japan, basic bathing customs to know before you visit an onsen or sento, and best […] …continue reading


Omikuji Japan – A Comprehensive Guide To These Fortune Telling Slips

Omikuji Fortune Telling Japan 6

One of the most fascinating things about Japan’s is just how deep-rooted its historical traditions are entrenched in activities that we see today. Many of the cultural aspects of Japan that you experience nowadays have been carefully and beautifully preserved from thousands of years ago. This includes the intriguing concept of Omikuji, small pieces of paper that predict your fortune!

Omikuji has been around for hundreds of years. During New Year, when the Japanese people visit temples and shrines to pray for well wishes for the following year, they also take the opportunity to draw Omikuji. They often use this as an indication for their fortune for the year.

Omikuji, however, can be drawn at any time during the year, and you will often see people doing so during festivals and such. Traditionally, it was written in only Japanese, but over time, the readings have been developed into many different languages, and you will find some temples and shrines sprinkled all over the country which offer translations for foreigners.

If you’re not a big believer of fortune telling, we recommend you try this anyway as it is a fun and exciting way to experience Japanese culture.

History of Omikuji

Muromachi Period Kyoto
Kyoto during Muromachi Period

Omikuji has been around for hundreds of years. It is believed to have started as early as from the Muromachi Period (from 1336-1573), during which they were created based on collections of Chinese poems. Today, when you receive an Omikuji, it will most likely feature a poem as well.

In the past, Omikuji is said to have been used for such things as predicting huge events such as government outcomes or even choosing …continue reading


Why are your teas fresher than other green teas?

Fresh green tea harvest

After harvesting sencha and gyokuro leaves are rolled, dried naturally, packed into large square blocks and wrapped in foil.

They are then carefully placed in wooden boxes and stored in a refrigerated room at a temperature of 1 degree centigrade. Humidity is strictly controlled.

Freshest Japanese green tea

Teas stored in this manner remain remarkably fresh for a year or more. This storage method is the standard procedure for producers of high-quality gourmet green teas.

You can buy fresh tea all year round

Teas are removed from this room, bagged, and sent to us weekly. An expiration date is on each bag you purchase. We keep a one week supply in reserve so we can ship to you within one business day.

Order fresh green tea shipped directly from Japan

Gyokuro leaves are usually aged for 3 months (or more for premium teas) before putting them into storage to give them a mellow, sweet taste.

No merchant who receives bagged teas from overseas and stores them until making a sale can match us in terms of freshness.

That is why it is important to order teas shipped directly from the source.

…continue reading


Why are First-Harvest Teas Better?

First-harvest Japanese green tea

There are 2-3 tea harvests in Japan each year. The first harvest is in late April or early May. There are 1 or 2 more harvest during the summer.

Japanese Green Tea Online only ships first-harvest teas

There is a tremendous difference in quality between teas from the first harvest and all the rest.

First-harvest teas not only taste better they also contain more polyphenols and vitamins than second and third harvest teas.

…continue reading


Mille Feuille Hot Pot (Nabe) with Pork and Chinese Cabbage

Hero shot of Mille Feuille Hot Pot

Hot pot recipes are usually easy. Among those easy hot pots, this Mille Feuille Hot Pot is the easiest nabe recipe. Chinese cabbage/nappa cabbage and thinly sliced pork belly are layered, then placed in a pot to look like a large flower. The simple dashi-based broth enhances the flavour of the cabbage and pork.

When you Google search ‘mille feuille recipe’, you will find the layered puff pastries with cream. But today’s dish is a savoury hot pot. The French ‘mille feuille’ means thousand leaf. Because the cabbage leaves in the hot pot are layered, Japanese people call today’s dish Mille Feuille Nabe (ミルフィーユ鍋).

It is said that this hot pot became popular after the food corporation, Ajinomoto broadcast a TV commercial for their dashi stock powder in 2010. In the commercial, it was introduced as a layered pork and cabbage hot pot.

But it was subsequently called Mille Feuille Nabe and became very popular. Many things named using foreign words tend to become trendy in Japan, because people think that they sound fancy and “cool”. There are many good reasons why Mille Feuille Hot Pot became popular.

  • Fancy name
  • Easy to make
  • Only two main ingredients
  • Tasty!

Taking some food onto a serving bowl from the Mille Feuille Hot Pot

The Australian summer is over, and we are well into autumn. When I see beautiful Chinese cabbage on the shelf of the vegetable shops I have to buy a whole cabbage, even if I am the only person living in my house and it will be too much. I then have to think about Chinese cabbage recipes to use up the whole cabbage.

Today’s dish, Mille Feuille Hot Pot (Nabe) with Pork and Chinese Cabbage can consume quite a bit of Chinese cabbage.

What’s in …continue reading


The 10 Best Japanese Facial Masks For A Better Skin Health

Japanese Facial Masks - Lululun Pink Face Masks

Japanese facial masks are the craze right now. In fact, they have been for the past few years, and there seems to be no signs of it slowing down!

What makes them so popular, you ask?

In recent years when skincare popularity went through the roof, people began turning to countries like Japan and South Korea. Hailed as some of the leading countries in the world in terms of beauty products, it didn’t take much time for many brands to become household names.

One of the items that became super popular to use personally as well as purchase as gifts is face masks.

The rise in Korean and Japanese dramas saw the gradual interest in face masks also grow. People became more and more exposed to the benefits and regular use of them through streaming shows on places like Netflix.

As of now, there are hundreds of brands of face masks that you can purchase. However, some particular Japanese brands have sought the top position in terms of popularity and they aren’t letting go anytime soon.

We’ve listed below 10 of the best Japanese facial masks that you can use for better skin.

1. Lululun Pink Face Masks

We’re starting off this fantastic list with, of course, the most recognisable face mask product across all Japanese drug stores: the pink Lululun face masks.

This is one of the best, all-rounder daily face masks that most people can use. Its benefits include enhancing the skin protection barrier on the face. It also aims to gradually improve the base foundation of your skin for stronger, better skin health.

It contains various ingredients for a moisturising mask, including hyaluronic acid and acacia honey. It also includes rice ceramide and ginseng roots.

The Lululun pink face masks are a powerful tool to use to keep your face fresh …continue reading


Spinach Kuro Goma-ae (Black Sesame Dressing)

Hero shot of Spinach Kuro goma-ae (black sesame dressing).

Today’s recipe, Spinach Kuro Goma-ae, is a counterpart of the Chrysanthemum Leaves Goma-ae that I posted a long time ago. Instead of the white sesame seeds that are used for chrysanthemum, I used black sesame seeds and spinach.

I think that the black sesame seeds have more pungent and richer flavour than the white sesame seeds. When you use them in a large quantity like in Goma-ae (Sweet Sesame Dressing), you can tell the difference between the flavours.

But people do not use the black sesame dressing in the dish as often as the white sesame dressing, perhaps due to the colour of the sesame.

Maybe because of this, the food dressed in white sesame is called Goma-ae (meaning dressed in sesame seeds) instead of calling it Shiro Goma-ae to clarify that it is made with white (= ‘shiro‘) sesame seeds.

The foods dressed in black sesame seeds have been called Kuro Goma-ae (黒胡麻和え) to distinguish them from the white sesame dressing. ‘Kuro‘ (黒) is black in Japanese, as you probably guessed.

About Black, White and Golden Sesame Seeds

You may think that white sesame seeds are made from black sesame seeds by removing the black outer skin. But that’s not the case. Black sesame and white sesame are different species.

Zoomed-in photo of Spinach Kuro goma-ae (black sesame dressing).

In fact, there are also golden sesame seeds that are the golden-brown colour. Because of the colour, the golden sesame is also called brown sesame.

In terms of market share, white sesame seeds are by far the most commonly available. They are followed by black sesame and then golden sesame. I have never tried golden sesame, so I don’t know the flavour difference.

All three kinds of sesame seeds have a very similar nutritional …continue reading