tokyo customs and traditions

10 Tokyo Customs that will Surprise You

Sushi food, cherry blossoms, rising sun and a bustling metro-city, Tokyo is one of the top destinations of the world where people prefer travelling to. And as the proverb goes; ‘when in Rome, do as Romans do’ is applicable to this City as well.

There are innumerable interesting, crazy, weird things to do in Tokyo, but before you hop on that plane to the city, beware that it has some surprising customs that you need to know.

Here are some quirkiest customs of Tokyo that will surprise you (and also prep you up for the trip to Tokyo):

  1. Don’t Tip:

Yes, while tipping is welcomed and often considered the sign of the classiness in most of the world, it is considered rude in Tokyo; often taken as a sign of insult. Be it cabs, restaurants, personal care, remember not to tip; or you might be frowned upon!

  1. Making Noises while Slurping:

As unpleasant and irritating it is, making loud noises while eating noodles or slurping a soup is considered as a custom to show that you have like the food served. So go ahead and be a child again..slurrrrppp

Tokyo things to do

  1. Go commando:

Okay, someone just made Joey Tribbiani’s dream come true! The Onsen or the hot-baths have a rule of ‘no-swimsuits’! Although, they have a red and blue bifurcation for females and males; sigh of relief? (Or despair!)

  1. No Shoes:

Like most of the Asian countries, Tokyo also has the “take off your shoes rule” before entering any home or any flooring with Japanese tatami mats. Not so surprising until you know that this also applies to restaurants, hotels and hot spring resorts.

tokyo customs and traditions

  1. Stand Left Pass Right:

Japanese believe that two opposite stand for everything, so when using an escalator, always follow the rule- stand left pass right.

  1. Don’t blow your noise in Public:

Although unappreciated everywhere in the world, blowing your nose in public is considered as a rude way to seek attention and stand out from the rest of others! Better use a washroom!

japanese traditions

  1. Kampai:

It is considered super uncouth to drink before saying “Kampai” which implies to “cheers”!  Kampai; learn it by heart!

  1. No tattoos in public baths:

Tokyo has a wide range of public baths like Sento(neighbourhood bathhouses) and Onsens( hot baths) and guests are always requested to bath first and cleanse their bodies. But beware, the sanctity of Ofuro (bath) is of utmost importance and tattoos are not welcomed and you might get a lot of stares or even be asked to stay out of the water.

  1. Bowing and Shaking:

Bowing is considered as a sign of respect and is one of the must-do things in Tokyo when you want to greet someone. But be careful, never shake your hands and bow at the same time! It is not only awkward, but also not well-received.

tokyo customs

  1. Chopsticks:

Locals are very particular about the use of chopsticks and playing with them as if it were a toy will not be liked. Also, never put the chopsticks on a plate; they should be kept on the chopstick holder provided. Also, if you are not too comfortable using them- learn how to; it is very important! Before you plan your travel itinerary it is most important to know the do’s and don’t of the city. Even if you are there just for a few days. You never know where the trouble is going to come from. So be careful and enjoy your trip.