There is no custom of tipping in Japan. This means you do not need to tip for your taxi ride, at restaurants, at hotels or anywhere else for the service you may encounter. Many times you will find that the level of service is better than that of your home country and you will want to tip but it is better not to. Giving extra money is not understood and can lead to embarrassment.
You will most likely see people walking around with face masks. These are not doctors. When Japanese people catch a cold or sickness and do not want to spread it to others, they will wear a face mask to help prevent the spread of the illness.
Sing Song Voices
Sometimes when you enter a shop or try to buy something, you will feel like the cashier is using a sing song voice to speak. This is because there are certain set phrases in Japanese that the cashier repeats many times over to all the customers. Upon entering the store, you might be greeted with “irrashaimase” and upon finishing making a purchase, you might hear “arigatou gozaimasu”.
It is considered rude to point directly with a finger in Japan. Japanese tend to prefer indirectness as opposed to directness and this manifests in all aspects of life. If you really want to point something out, you can motion with an open hand rather than using a finger.
If you go to Japan, you will inevitably come across chopsticks at your meals. While not all Japanese foods are eaten with chopsticks, for example, curry is typically eaten with a spoon, most restaurants will lay out chopsticks for you. It is important never to put the chopsticks into a rice bowl sticking up or otherwise plunge them into the food and leave them there. This is considered rude in Japan.
I highly suggest learning how to use chopsticks, even though it can be painful and difficult. At least give it a shot: most restaurants have forks and knives available upon request.
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