Wednesday, 17th December 2014
In Japan Travel News,
Tourists given a head-up on Japanese cultural rules
Tourists visiting Japan for the first time are being advised on how to stay on the good side of the locals.
With the country having welcomed a record ten million people last year, and with prime minister Shinzo Abe expressing his desire to see this annual number rise even higher as Japan gets ready to host the Olympics in 2020, prospective visitors are being given a heads-up on how to mind their manners.
The 'do's and don'ts', have been drawn up by the Thai Embassy in Japan but most of which are nevertheless relevant for travellers from other countries, and aimed at ensuring guests in the country don't offend local sensibilities.
For instance, the guide educates visitors on how Japanese people tend to behave (and how they like others to behave) while using lifts in hotels or other buildings.
According to the local diplomats, tourists should always remember that the first person into a lift should hold the doors open for others and, more importantly, should always be the last one to leave.
Similarly, visitors are reminded that when using any of the countless escalators in Japan, they should always stand on the left and walk on the right, with the notable exception of the Kansai region in the very middle of the country where the opposite is the case.
Other rules released by the embassy and then translated into English tourists by the Associated Press for the benefit of other visitors include always turning a mobile phone to silent while travelling by public transport since making any unnecessary noise is considered extremely rude in Japanese society.
On a more culinary note, guests are also advised that Japanese people frown upon those who use chopsticks to share food with others, with serving spoons the right tool to use when enjoying a meal with friends of family.
Summing up the list, which can be found in its original form on the Facebook page of the Thai Embassy in Tokyo, chief counsul Jessada Nanthachaiporn noted: "Japanese society is very unique. It is a society with strict rules that are not always obvious to visitors."
This comes as Japanese tourism chiefs step up their efforts to attract visitors from all over the world.
In particular, officials are keen to promote the country to Muslims, with concerted efforts being made to make everything from hotels and restaurants to visitor attractions 'Muslim-friendly'.
In keeping with modern Japanese traditions, tourism chiefs are making use of the latest technology to achieve this aim, with special smartphone apps having been developed to help Muslim tourists find Halal food, for example.
Related news stories:
Hiroshima increasingly popular with tourists (11th June 2014)
A cheap yen and investment - foreign tourists flocking to Japan (13th March 2015)
Japan encourages Chinese tourists off the beaten track (26th February 2015)
Japanese stores offering tourists tax-free shopping rise by 60% (4th March 2015)
January visitors to Japan hits record high (24th February 2015)