This new video that Chris made was pretty accurate… and being I’ve been living in Japan for awhile in the Southern part of Japan. Chris lives in the Northern most part of Japan so, I thought I’d cross examine these 12 no-no’s in Japan. To be fair, he got them pretty much all right on the head and the ending advice is something to take home when deciding to visit Japan. So here is what I see compared to what he pointed out as well as some interesting stories… If I have them for the specific etiquette.
My response: Although I sort of knew this one when I first came here, I’ve eaten and drank while walking many times in public without anybody giving me any bad looks, I constantly drink a beer walking down the street, in fact I feel rather at home and at peace about it. But despite knowing this and having done it several times myself I got TONS of BAD looks when my wife and I decided to sit off to the side near a building one day and eat lunch real quick… We had more bad looks then any other time since we’ve been here, I looked around afterwards and we were not in anyone’s way, there was no grave stone behind us or anything saying to not be in the area…. Till this day I still wonder what the hell we did to piss people off. So it goes to show you, you can know all the etiquette in the world here (or think you do)… You may get that look still anyway.
My response: The big chopstick no-no’s… I only once stuck my chopsticks into rice ONCE. I was at a place eating gyumeishi with a friend and my wife, of course I was drinking and did it anyway, despite “knowing” about this etiquette, I felt a bit bad, but nothing happened from it, nor did anyone notice besides my friend who quickly snapped at me about it. 😛 Damn booze, getting me into trouble. You can read a bit more about these Chopstick Etiquette Guidelines of Japanese here.
My response: I actually knew this before coming and I love this part of Japan. But I do have a story around this. I went to an Izakaya with a friend 6 months ago (2017 Julyish) and he was lets just say, not really suppose to be drinking, but we all ended up doing nomihodai (here are some etiquette tips about Nomihodai), and we drank for awhile, it was fun… for awhile… then all of a sudden this friend passed out on an empty plate and threw up all over the table, we got him up and to the bathroom, then he came back and did it again. That was our, better get the hell outta here now barf and while we were leaving everyone that was in that group decided to try and “soak” up the barf with tons of napkins, well, that was really fucking nasty and I felt bad knowing that these poor waiter gals were going to have to clean up all this dudes barf. I tried my damnest to give them something extra despite knowing they wouldn’t. I also successfully did the deepest and longest bows of my Japanese “life” ever, I felt horrible about it.
All they said was…
“Come again soon!” … with a pasted smile… Thing is, I could never face them again, but a few of those friends actually did go back. I suppose that’s the way to “tip” if you feel you need to, just go back.
You can read a bit about Japanese Bowing Etiquette here.
My response: I’ve never done this as I don’t actually use a phone here in Japan… Weird right? Well, I can’t stand how people are lost in there little worlds here with their phones, they have signs saying “LOOK UP”, of course 1,000s pass by daily and do no such thing.
But one story I have about this is when I was getting on a JR line it was really empty, so my wife and I are sitting up front to watch the oncoming tracks. Then we stop at an Eki, and this guy comes on (Japanese) with his phone in his hand, was finishing up his call and he was fairly quiet. The conductor told him to stop using it, and the guy was trying to finish up and the conductor came back and about grabbed it out of his hands… Scary little guy. I’m not sure what to think about what the hell happened there, but the guy on the phone was even in shock.
Here are some Japanese Train Etiquette tips so that you appease the Japanese train conductors. <- (The 8 Mortal Sins of Train Riding)
My response: I’ve known about this and it makes me awkward as hell when someone gives me a card. Although I remember my cards, I still freak out when people give them to me.
My response: I’ve seen several Japanese indulging in this activity, but of course most do not. Me? Being an American, I just kind of don’t care (as much) and do it if I need to, of course I avoid it in super crowded places like a train, but if I’m on the street I will go on the side and do it, I try to meet etiquette half way at least if possible, but sometimes… I mean, c’mon it’s like hanging out anyway, lets just finish it!
My response: I’ve noticed not much touching here when first meeting people, but by golly jeewhizz, you get some alcohol in them and they’ll be hanging off of you like a monkey in a tree.
My response: Well being my Japanese is sub-par most of the time it would be hard for to be like this with most Japanese people and then even when I’m in the thresholds of “mastering” this language, I think I’d still find it a bit hard to do this. My opinioned-ness comes from speaking English really loud when I’m pissed about something.
But yesterday I kind of came up with a slogan about Americans vs Refugees flooding Europe… and yes, yes. It’s a horrible thing to pick and make jokes off of (I blame the booze I was drinking while walking), but I felt it appropriate… “We don’t rape, we just agitate”… 😐 yep. NEXT!!
My response: I got busted doing this ONCE, the first time I enter my shared house when getting here. Other then that, it’s pretty easy to remember, no big stories here like Chris’s.
My response: It’s true there are very very few places to toss trash… but I see trash all of the place still here in Fukuoka, (<-check out the gomi rules here of Fukuoka) and I can tell you right now, if you own a Jidouhanbaki… A vending machine.. You better provide people a way to throw trash away, because Chris is right a lot of people will drink whatever right there and then throw it away, if there is no bin… people start stacking it all over the place around it.
My response: This is the point that made me want to do this post as I posted my response already on this video in comments — I do this ALL the time! I see tons of people doing it here in Fukuoka… maybe that’s why it also has the highest rate of people getting hit by cars? … Hmm odd. Perhaps then, this is also the reason there are more “drunk” driver auto accidents here too? Perhaps they all get caught from hitting people crossing at red lights? Hmm… fascinating!
My response: You will be given TONS of leeway here… except if you’re eating an obentou off the side on a building curb… then you’ll get death stares. So relax, you’ll learn or you’ll get the looks.
Over the last couple weeks, my wife and I have road the trains almost everyday, and for the most part most of the Japanese seem to follow the etiquette rules set by society, BUT every single day I see some Japanese breaking these rules, and at times entire train cars ignore it, people will eat, talk on phones and talk loudly, but to be fair when it’s pact in the mornings and coming home for the day it’s a bit more strict. It’s like if a few people ignore the etiquette it’s bad etiquette but if a bunch do it, it’s okay. Which seems about right given when we went to our class orientation they told us that you’re not suppose to ride your bike on the other side of the going into traffic and you’re not suppose to ride a bike with an umbrella in your hand while it’s raining, BUT… surprise surprise, I’ve seen more Japanese breaking these rules then I see following them.
So why shouldn’t the trains be the same way, right? But besides breaking some etiquette rules, I saw something, sort of funny, but a bit of a pain for a lot of riders on the trains. I call it the “Ultimate Japanese Seat Block Maneuver”. It happens all throughout the train, day in and day out at all times of the day no matter if the train car is packed! It’s a naturally understood phenomena that happens on the train where two Japanese will sit in a way where it discourages others that want to sit down because of having to be rude and asking them to move. Now I actually just think it’s mostly so that you’re not rubbing knees and pushing into the other persons bubble, but I think at times it’s an unconscious decision knowing full well if the train is not super full people will pass up those seats. >:)
Another thing that I noticed quite a bit is book covers, now I’ve heard of this before but I got my first picture of someone reading most likely some kind of interesting topic that he didn’t want anyone else to know about, I’m sure most of the women are reading their romance novels and they’d rather not show it off. Perhaps it’s good etiquette? Would I do it, probably not.
So there you have it a bit more interesting facts about train riding that you may or may not have known about.
So of course as things go with studying Japanese culture every day, I still get surprised and have to just go… WTF JAPAN? Because honestly being from the west this little game/joke/prank called kancho is for me a big WTF. So what is this naughty game called called kancho all about? Well simply put it’s when someone sneaks up on you and jams their fingers into your butthole.
No, I’m not kidding. The game kancho which is usually played by small children under the age six is something that literally involves your fingers and a butt. But just because it’s mostly played by children, doesn’t mean that they’re just doing it to each other… Oh no, in fact, if you’re a teacher, parents, older sibling you better protect your back parts from being probed, and to be fair, you could also find yourself getting a probe from someone at work, high school or college (some just don’t mentally grow up past the age of 6)! This weird oddity is not just Japan’s alone, the Korean’s and those in Philippians seem to enjoy a good game of jab the butthole. Butt, seriously now, this game is so revered in Japan, they had to make themselves a statue of the good ol’ time they’ve had jabbing strangers, friends, family and even teachers in the bung-hole.
One thing to note though is that yes these cultures are different, and for the most part kancho in Japan is tolerated especially those 6 and younger. So if you’re planning on being a Japanese English Teacher for wee ones, then you could expect a nice bit of backlash from your students at one point in time when they become a ragging pack of piranha. The Japanese give these kids HUGE room to be bastards, so the best way to handle them is to never mentally break in from of them, be able to take a joke and even be able to deal some back to them (minus the kancho, c’mon now, that’s a bit creepy). If you can do that, it’s said Japanese children will respect you for that and give you less of a hard time. But for those that are not equipped with a sense of humor may end up a broken mess on the floor during the first day of school.
But to further the rules, well, there really are no rules, except, avoid being a pervert at the wrong time, like:
Funerals, Weddings (proper timing), School Entrance Ceremonies, Trains (This is known as chikan if done wrong =P), On the Frail Elderly.. and you know I’m sure you just have to use your best judgement here, if it seems it might be frowned upon to sneak attack a persons butthole at a certain time, try to find another more suitable time to do so…