Japan Is a Wonderful Place to Visit, If… – Part 1

Visit Japan part 1

Have you ever thought of taking a trip to Japan? It’s certainly an interesting, beautiful place, worth seeing at least once in your life. You know how it is with foreign countries, though; there’s a good chance that we do things one way, and they do it another. Cultural shock is one big pain in the butt, so it’d be a good idea to know at least some things about where you’re going in order to save yourself the embarrassment and headache down the road. Here are 4 things you should know before you step foot in Japan!

Refrain from tipping

While tipping culture is vastly popular in the United States and is steadily gaining traction in European countries as well, it’s not something the Japanese concern themselves with. From their point of view, they are already being paid for the goods and services they provide, so there’s no point in receiving additional money for something they’re expected to do. As such, tipping will be seen, at worst, as an insult to their work ethic and integrity, and, at best, a slight inconvenience, since whomever you left a tip out of the goodness of your heart will chase you down in order to return you your money.

You want to pay by card? Wrong, try again

Talking about money, the Japanese aren’t exactly in the habit of paying by card. Due to Japan’s low crime rate, they don’t have any apprehension about walking around with large sums of money on them. So, it follows that most places wouldn’t care about credit cards. Sure, there are some places here and there that accept them, like larger shops and hotels, but aside from that? Not much of a chance, especially not in the countryside.

You should also be aware that most ATMs there will only accept Japanese debit and credit cards. If you want to withdraw money from a, say, VISA or Mastercard, you’ll have to either go to a postal ATM or a 7-Eleven.

Tattoos are still taboo

Tattoos are, even in our Western society, slightly frowned upon, especially by the older generation. Have you ever heard some old man rant about how having a tattoo makes you look like an ex-convict? Something of that sort is going on in Japan, only it’s a widespread, cultural thing: tattoos used to be specific to public offenders and criminals, particularly the Yakuza.

Though that’s not really the case anymore, and while foreigners may get a bit of a pass, there’s still a strong stigma against tattoos, to the point that visible tattoos will get you banned from onsen, swimming pools, water parks, beaches and gyms, since those are places where you’d be wearing a minimum of clothing. If the tattoo is small, then it could be hidden with a waterproof sticker, while bigger tattoos will require being covered up with bandages. Thought not against the law, it is highly advised to cover up your tattoos when going to temples, shrines and ryokans as well.

Hold onto your garbage

You may see this subtitle and wonder, isn’t that what any civilized person would be doing anyway, no matter where they are? Why bring this up? True, littering is frowned upon no matter where you are, but that’s not exactly what I mean. Have you ever had to hold onto some trash because there was no trash can or recycling bin nearby? Japan is like that too, only it cranks it up to eleven: the streets are pretty much free of them. If there’s something you have to throw away, look around parks, convenience stores, vending machines and train stations.


Curious to learn more about Japan and what life’s like there? Then check out my other article for 4 more things you should know about the Japanese way of life!


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