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Japanese Manners and Customs

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Welcome to Yamanashi, the Home of Mt. Fuji

Welcome to Yamanashi ! We are delighted to welcome everyone from around the world. Everyone’s plans and reasons for traveling may be different, but one common benefit of traveling that anyone can enjoy is learning up close about the ways of thinking, customs, and culture of the people living in the area. We would like you to read about the following customs and rules in Japan to help you understand more about the country, feel closer to the Japanese people, and have an enjoyable and unforgettable experience while you are here. We anxiously await your visit!

Manners for Public Places

 The people of Japan have traditionally placed great emphasis on cooperation, being mindful of their behavior and those around them while in public. Refraining from speaking in loud voices and talking on phones in places like restaurants, stores, trains, buses, and other public spaces is deeply rooted in Japanese culture. As such, please be mindful of the following points to behave appropriately in public spaces:priority seat

  • Be mindful of others and talk quietly in public spaces. 
  • Refrain from talking on the phone on public transportation such as trains and buses, setting your phone to silent mode and only using it in emergencies.
  • When crowded, please turn off your phones in the vicinity of priority seats on trains. *Heart pacemakers and other medical devices may be set off

Waiting your turn

Lining up and waiting your turn is a practice deeply ingrained in Japan, with almost everyone following this rule. At a bank ATM or in the restroom, people form a single line and wait until one becomes available. Even in long lines, it is typical for Japanese to patiently wait their turns and refrain from causing trouble for others.


 Please stand in line and wait your turn. Cutting to open spaces is an etiquette violation. In order to avoid unnecessary trouble, please obey this social custom and wait your turn.

Smoke only in designated places


For both indoor and outdoor public spaces, smoking is not allowed other than in designated smoking zones. Depending on the establishment, smoking while walking or smoking in the vicinity of a building may be prohibited, sometimes incurring fines.

  • Please use smoking areas when in public places.
  • In crowded places, smoking while walking may harm other people if lit cigarettes come into contact with other people’s skin or personal belongings. Please do not smoke while walking.


In Japan, there are two types of toilets, western-style seated toilets, and Japanese-style squat toilets. Western-style toilets in Japan are often equiped with washlet technology,  and there are also toilets with special sound effects like the running water of a stream or birds chirping. If you have accidentally dirtied the toilet, please be considerate of the next person and clean it. The toilet paper provided will dissolve in water. When you are done using it, please dispose of it properly by flushing it down the toilet.Follow the instructions below for correct use of each type of toilet.

Western-style toilets


① Open the lid. Put the u-shaped seat down. ② Sit with the lid upright behind you. Step one leg over and squat. ③ When you are done, wipe yourself with the provided toilet paper, then dispose the paper in the toilet. ④ Use the lever or button to flush the water down


Japanese-style squat toilet


① Ensure that the round end jutting out is facing your front. Step one leg over and squat.② When you are done, wipe yourself with toilet paper, then dispose of the paper in the toilet. ③ Use the lever or button to flush the water down.


Public Baths (Sento) and Hot Springs (Onsen)

There used to be no baths in individual houses in Japan. From a very young age, the people of a town would use public bathing facilities. At the time, public bathing facilities called sento, were a place to interact and socialize with other people. In this social setting, people naturally came to an unspoken understanding regarding bathing etiquette so that everyone could bathe in comfort.


Hot springs (onsen) are very pupular in Japan due to its health benefits, and you can find onsen in many traditional inns, ryokan. The same bathing etiquette applies to both sento and onsen. Please enjoy Japan’s unique “naked bonding” culture at onsen and other public bathing facilities.

  • Please share the changing room, shower room, and baths with others
  • When heading to the bathing room, take no clothing with you (including underwear) except for a small face towel. You may also bring shampoo and soap. Entering the bathing room while wearing swimwear or bathrobes is an etiquette violation
  • The baths are for heating up your body. Before entering the baths, please wash your body in the shower area. Plunging into the water without showering is not allowed.
  • Washing your body in the baths is an etiquette violation. Be absolutely sure your body is clean before soaking in the baths.
  • Be sure to wipe your body dry when returning to the changing room from the shower room. If you enter the changing room while wet, you may drip on the floor and make it slippery and unsafe for others.

Japanese Ryokan Inns

As traditional Japanese-style accommodations, ryokan exude a uniquely Japanese atmosphere. However, there are a number of etiquette rules to follow. Because Japan is very rainy and humid, in order to maintain a clean and hygenic home, Japanese people do not enter houses with their shoes on. Instead, they remove their shoes in the entranceway, and sit directly on the floor or tatami mat or lay down a futon.


  • In the entranceways at ryokan, the room’s floor is raised slightly above the outside level, indicating where it is not ok to wear shoes. There will also be slippers left near this area for you to wear. Even though you are wearing slippers instead of shoes, you must still remove your slippers when entering the tatami room.
  • In the tatami room, please be careful with your luggage as the tatami floor is easily damaged.

Japanese Table Manners

Manner Guide (PDF version)


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