How to act like a Japanese person

Bought air tickets to Japan? Then you probably don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb while you are there! Well, you’re in luck, we’ve spoken with friends and family members who have lived in Japan for an extended period of time to ask them how to act like a Japanese person.

It is important to first recognize that there is no one "right" way to act like a Japanese person, as every individual has their own unique cultural background, values, and behaviors. That being said, there are certain customs and social norms that are commonly practiced in Japan that you may wish to familiarize yourself with if you are planning to visit or live in the country.

Japanese culture places a strong emphasis on politeness and manners, and there are many specific customs and traditions that are considered important to follow. Here are a few tips on how to act like a Japanese person.

  1. Respect hierarchy
  2. Be polite
  3. Communicate indirectly
  4. Pay attention to body language
  5. Be punctual
  6. Take your shoes off
  7. Give gifts to show appreciation
  8. Respect nature
  9. Follow the rules
  10. Be mindful of what you wear
  11. Eat like a Japanese

Respect hierarchy

In Japanese culture, hierarchy plays a significant role in social interactions. It is important to show respect to those who are older or have higher status, such as by using formal language and bowing.

Japanese culture also places a high value on respect for authority, including respect for elders and superiors. It is important to show deference to those in positions of power and to follow rules and protocols.

Be polite

Japanese people place a high value on politeness and often use honorific language and gestures to show respect. This includes using terms such as "san" or "sama" when addressing others and bowing slightly when greeting someone.

Relatedly, Japanese people place a high value on good manners, and there are many customs that are followed to show respect and consideration for others. For example, it is considered polite to cover your mouth when you laugh and to use a small spoon or chopsticks when eating soup.

Japanese people tend to be very respectful and considerate of others in public. It is important to maintain a calm and composed demeanor, avoid loud or boisterous behavior, and keep your voice down when speaking in public. Don’t make a scene!

Communicate indirectly

Japanese people often prefer to communicate indirectly, rather than expressing their thoughts or feelings directly. This can involve using subtle cues or hints to convey meaning, rather than being straightforward.

Japanese culture also places a strong emphasis on group harmony and it is common for individuals to prioritize the needs of the group over their own personal desires. This can manifest in the form of self-sacrifice or a willingness to compromise.

Pay attention to body language

Nonverbal cues such as eye contact, facial expressions, and gestures can convey a lot of meaning in Japanese culture. For example, avoiding eye contact can be seen as a sign of respect, while maintaining direct eye contact can be perceived as confrontational.

Be punctual

Japanese people value punctuality and it is considered rude to arrive late to a meeting or social gathering. If you are running late, it is expected that you will inform the other party in advance. In terms of work ethics, Japanese people tend to have a strong work ethic and place a high value on responsibility. It is common for them to work long hours and to be very dedicated to their jobs.

Take your shoes off

In many Japanese homes and some public spaces, it is customary to remove your shoes upon entering. This is done to keep the space clean and to show respect for the host.

Give gifts to show appreciation

In Japanese culture, gift-giving is a common way to show appreciation or respect to others. Gifts are often given on special occasions such as birthdays, holidays, and when visiting someone's home.

These gifts are often wrapped in beautiful paper and it is considered rude to open the gift in front of the giver.

Respect nature

Japanese people have a strong connection to nature, and many practices and customs revolve around respecting and preserving the natural environment. For example, it is common to find gardens or natural elements incorporated into traditional Japanese architecture and design.

Follow the rules

Japanese society places a strong emphasis on following rules and regulations. It is important to be mindful of local laws and customs and to act in a way that is considerate of others.

Be mindful of what you wear

Japanese people generally place a strong emphasis on appearance and it is common for them to dress neatly and modestly, especially in formal settings.

Eat like a Japanese

Japanese people often eat with chopsticks and it is considered rude to point or wave them around while using them. It is also considered polite to slurp noodles and finish everything on your plate, as this shows appreciation for the food.

Conclusion

It is important to remember that these are generalizations and that not all Japanese people will necessarily adhere to all of these practices. It is always important to be respectful and considerate of others and to be mindful of cultural differences.

Maybe, after you’ve learned how to act like a Japanese person, you can win the heart of a Japanese man! If you’re heading to Japan soon, remember to drink some Japanese tea and go shopping! 

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