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Travel tip in Japan : Nara vol.4

Manners & Etiquette

Travel tip in Japan : Nara vol.4

MANNERS & ETIQUETTE

Japan is famous for its politeness and hospitality. Japanese people will easily tolerate your mistakes or inattentions regarding their traditions, therefore you should not worry too much. However, if you are aiming to respect Japanese etiquette and you wish to be part of the community, here’s a list of general manners you may follow to behave correctly in this country.

Take off your shoes

In Japanese homes, traditional restaurants and ryokan, you will be asked to remove your shoes as soon as you will be welcomed in the entrance area. This area, called genkan, represents the outdoor of the building and is often separated from the indoor by an elevated wooden step.

On trains

While traveling on Japanese trains, you are requested to turn off the volume of your devices (as mobile phones, MP3 players or tablets). You should also speak in a low voice to avoid disturbing other passengers. If the train is crowded, please be ready to leave your seat to passengers with special needs.

During the meals

Before enjoying your meal, you should put your hand together and say itadakimasu (“I gratefully receive it”). It’s also good manner to wait for everybody’s order before starting eating yours. Similarly, wait for everybody’s drink to arrive and then raise your glass for a drinking cheer, saying kanpai. At the end of your meal, conclude with gochisōsama deshita, a polite phrase to express your gratitude for the food you benefited from.

On the street

While you are on the street, you should avoid smoking. Please use the designated areas that can be easily found by train stations. Also restrain from blowing your nose or eating food among the crowd.

Bowing

During daily life situations such as presentations, greetings, departing or apologies, bowing represents a cultural trait that Japanese people master during their lifetime. As a foreigner, you are not supposed to know the exact etiquette of this gesture. If you are greeted with a bow from a shop or restaurant staff member, you can just reply with a nod of your head and a smile.

If you are willing to visit Nara, you have probably heard about the deer roaming freely around the city. Since ancient times, deer are accustomed to live peacefully along with humans.

On your visit, you will surely meet these animals considered messengers of the gods. To better enjoy your visit, you may find useful to know how to behave in Nara Park.

• Get close carefully. Deer are used to interact with people, but they can’t be considered pets. Please respect their freedom by avoiding inappropriate behaviors. It’s also better to watch fawns from a distance because mothers tends to be very protective.

• They love to be fed. You can buy their favorite crackers (shika-senbei) around Nara Park. Please avoid giving them your food because they could get sick. Be aware of the fact that deer can be a little invasive when they notice shika-senbei, but don’t worry to be surrounded!

• Do not give them paper. Deer are prone to eat almost anything. If you are holding paper products as flyers or brochures, they will attempt to eat them. Please avoid letting deer eat paper since it’s bad for their health.

• It is better not to put food in pockets. Once you have fed the deer, they tend to be very determined in having more. If you have some food left, do not put it in your pockets. Your shirt may become their next meal!

• Do not drop garbage on the ground. Nara Park is a great spot to enjoy a picnic, even though garbage cans can’t be easily found around in order to protect the deer. Please take a plastic bag with you and throw it away later. Garbage cans are around the train stations or at convenience stores.

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Travel tip 4
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