What Differences to Expect When Going to School in Japan
Good Japanese Students are Seen Not Heard, American Students are Loud and Opinionated
There are a few things to understand about Japanese Schools and how they relate to American standard schools, and it comes down to the way you are taught, what the teacher expects from you and how you are graded.
In American schools, there is a lot of freedom to expression opinions and to ask questions. In fact, it’s said to be that those who take advantage of this idea are the ones who get the most of out classes in America and get the best grades. Whereas those who go to school in Japan will notice that it’s not as appropriate to ask questions in class, it’s more appropriate to ask questions after class or to ask your friends and classmates instead. It’s more of a virtue to be quiet during class, and by being ‘quiet’ you are seen as a good student in Japan, and with that, your grades can and many times will improve simply based off of that fact alone.
There is no eating or drinking in the class room or sitting on desks in Japan classrooms, whereas in America this custom is beginning to be the normality of going to school. When it comes to studying in Japan be it from 1st grade to University, the teacher will simply write down notes on the blackboard, and you will be responsible for taking down those notes and remembering them. Whereas in America the teachers do not use the blackboard as often and ask questions of the students while teaching. In Japan, it’s not very often you will see a teacher asking questions to their classroom.
When it comes to examinations, American classes rooms will expect you to be able to write down facts, names and history, but not only that but to form your opinion based around it as well. In Japan the notes you took while in class are simply the answers for many examinations, and you simply must just remember the facts. Although these two systems seem very opposite, the formulation of the illegal standards of Common Core in America is quickly leaving American school children behind. At this point although the Japanese system is a bit odd to us westerns, Japan is ranked #2 in schools in education in the world (from 2014) just under South Korea, whereas America was ranked #14.
So either way you want to look at it, Japanese students and the way they teach seem to be working much better then the American standards. No matter what the cultural shock may be, this remains to be a fact. But I often wonder with so much freedom overall given to American students if it creates a different kind of education, more of an opinionated one that could very well be the American spirit of freedom to do what one wishes. If one wishes to become more educated the platforms of doing so are there, as I’m sure it is in Japan if one wishes as well.
If you are interested in going to school in Japan contact us on Facebook and can will help you find a school in the area you’d like to study in. I’d also suggest checking out my free Japanese learning resources here that will help you become more proficient in speaking, reading, writing and understanding Japanese.
So now you know the differences between Japanese Schools and American Schools!
Everything You Need to Know About Japanese Onsen Etiquette + How to Onsen with Tattoo’s
Japan in it’s history was lavish with tattoo’s, but as times change in Japan (as they often do), the Japanese culture became more and more strict with the usage of tattoos, until now, still in 2016 we see many onsen, santo (bath houses), gyms and hotels will still turn people away who have tattoos that are visible.
Overall this custom bans anyone from entering their facilities if they have a tattoo. So beyond now knowing that tattoos are considered taboo in Japan over all, what else do we need to know about etiquette when it comes to Japanese onsen? (hot springs). Be sure to read through till the end to find out how you can still enjoy the Japanese hot spring (onsen) experience whilst pimping out your favorite ink!
Or I highly recommend a hand-book guide to the best onsens in Japan below:
I highly recommend this book for those who are serious about doing some traveling in Japan. Onsen is one of those things one should do while in Japan. Just like eating sushi or drinking sake, visiting a shrine or going to the sky tree in Tokyo. If you miss out on an onsen experience you’re missing out on Japan!
Etiquette Rules #1
Be sure to fully wash yourself before entering into an onsen or santo. You’ll want to scrub yourself down, then rinse yourself. Many times there will be a stool you can use to sit on while washing.
Remember that in Japanese culture, baths are not for cleaning yourself, they are for relaxing. Many onsen and bath houses will expect you to bring your own towels and soap for cleaning, so be sure to do so. Plus you can save money by avoiding having to purchase the bath houses soap and towels.
Once you’ve cleaned yourself before entering, clean up your area and make it ready for the next customer after you. Also note that taking pictures in an onsen is kind of weird and you should not do it. Although some will allow, I’d say, be respectful of the naked people around you!
Etiquette Rules #2
You can use your towel to cover yourself whilst walking about the onsen or santo. Do not dive or splash in the water, do not wring your towel out in the water. And when you are in the water place your towel on your head. You can also set the towel to the side on a rock if you’d rather. If you need to wring out your towel, don’t do it in the onsen.
Don’t be a pervert. Pretty simple
Do not swim in the onsen, this is time for relaxing, if you want to swim go to a pool.
Etiquette Rules #3
Do not wear a swimming suit or bring a towel into the water to cover yourself. You’ll need to get over being naked in the onsen or santo. This is how things are in Japan, no body really cares. Overall bringing things into the water is shown as dirtying the water. So don’t do it!
If you want shared gender bathing experience go to a konyoku bath. You can also look for a kashikiri-buro bath which is used for families and must be reserved beforehand.
Etiquette Rule #4
Remove your shoes, many onsen have traditional Japanese flooring called tatami mats. It’s customary to remove your shoes before entering upon a tatami mat, so before entering the onsen area with the tatami mat, take off your shoes, and don’t label yourself the biggest gaijin in the world.
Etiquette Rule #5
Be sure to understand what changing room is yours. The women’s dressing room will usually be a large red curtain with the kanji for woman on it 女. If you end up going into the woman’s changing area, you’ll get slapped, head butted then possibly arrested for being a hentai 😛 so don’t do that.
Etiquette Rule #6
Since all onsen and santo are basically buck ass (nude only), you’ll need to place your clothes in a certain location. In the changing rooms you’ll find baskets that you can place your clothes in, many times you’ll have a locker. Don’t leave your stuff just hanging out all over the place, it looks trashy and it’s super rude!
Etiquette Rules #7
If in doubt, ask. Many onsen will have specific rules about their onsen or santo. You can read signs on the wall or simply ask if you are unclear.
This is where many times people with tattoos will need to address the issue if they are unsure the onsen allows tattoos. Still to date, many of these onsen do not allow tattoos but its become more common now days that you can find onsen that allow tattoos or at least be able to cover them up.
So unless you want to reserve a private onsen experience, you’ll need to know the rules of the onsen about tattoos. Tattoos in Japan have a few bad connotations. First is that the famous Japanese gang the Yakuzas have tattoos and second people were tattooed when they were in prison to show that they are criminals. So these ideas are still somewhat strong in Japan and thusly why some onsen don’t want to deal with Japanese or foreigners with tattoos!
But there are a few things you can do if you have a tattoo in Japan and want to enjoy an onsen or santo, gym or hotel. You can simply find locations that allow tattoos (Use Tattoo Spot (it’s in Japanese)) or if your tattoo is small enough you can use a water proof sticker to cover up your tattoo.
Still check with the onsen before hand to avoid any conflicts with patching your tattoo, but many onsen are now allowing patching up their tattoos.
Now you know some simple Japanese bathing etiquette! By following these basic etiquette rules you will impress the owners and the Japanese, and help pave the way to more leniency for tattoos and foreigners moving into the future. Being someone that has a small arm tattoo I’ve been doing my research very thoroughly so I hope you can trust my advice and you can also enjoy the Onsen experience in Japan!
Please the Japanese Train Etiquette Gods by Knowing the 8 Mortal Sins of Train Travel in Japan!
There are some simple things that one should know when moving, traveling or teleporting to Japan. When you ride the train, you should be aware of some simple etiquette. If you fail to do so, you’ll not only get weird, odd and sometimes mean looking faces staring at you, but soon after getting off the train, a ninja may or may not lobe off your head… of course it all depends on what you failed to understand when it comes to etiquette on Japanese trains.
So here are the do’s and don’ts when it comes to riding the Japanese train ways!
Or the ‘How to Ride Trains in Japan’ … or ‘How to Not SIN in Japan’
Here’s a quickie for those that may not believe in the Japanese Train Gods. This is similar to those who don’t believe in god (Christian), yet still show up to church on Christmas Eve. So take it kind of like that for those.. Not so sure about these legendary beings!
Waiting in Line at the Trains and Letting Passengers Off
Make sure you stand in the right line when getting on the train. There will be markers and writing on the ground to let you know where to stand. When the train finally arrives, it’s best to stand off to the side while the passengers depart. Just make sure you get it right…. those train gods can be hard on foreigners, but it’s only so they get it right! Just like a strict parent.
Don’t Chikan and Watch out For Women-Only Train Cars + Real Etiquette
First of all, it should be rather known, NOT to grab a bunch of butts while in a crammed train car. So I shouldn’t need to go into that, but if you are unaware, this is a major problem in Japan. It’s called Chikan, it’s where a man (mostly) will grab butts and whatever else he can while everyone is smashed in like sardines.
They do this because overall, they know they can get away with it and no one will know, except the chikan’ed (new word?). But because of this there are a growing number of all women train cars emerging. Just make sure you are a woman if you got on one, otherwise, you may get beat up.
But to finalize this section off, let me share some real train etiquette, because, honestly you should know not to be grabbing people on their who’who’s and ha’ha’s on the train.
Do not put makeup on or get dress or ready for work or school on the train, it’s considered a bad omen, and someone may just have to smack you up side your head for doing it. So keep that in mind, do all your getting ready before getting on the train.
Don’t smoke on the Train..
Now days, smoking in public places is not illegal in many parts of Japan. You will end up with an annoyance called a fine if you get ratted out, and trust me, you will. It’s so well known that you do not smoke on the train that they don’t have any signs or recordings tell you not to do it!
There are many times smoking rooms in the stations where you are allowed to smoke. I guess the best bet is… if you don’t see a go ahead and smoke sign. Don’t do it. There will be available smoking rooms and areas not only in stations, but at festivals and in public areas.
Do not eat or drink on the train
There is no eating or drinking in the cars. Wait until you leave the train to continue on munching… as stated above there are certain trains you can eat on, but for overall purpose trains, it’s not recommended… that is all 😛
When Waiting for the Train – Wait BEHIND the Yellow Line.
The yellow line is also called the ‘suicide line’. It’s basically a no go when waiting for the train, do not step over it. It’s also got bumps on it so the blind know it’s there as well. This is also on Japanese sidewalks as well.
No talkie on cell phony!
This is most likely one of the most known rules by foreigners when they hear train etiquette, but that doesn’t mean they still listen to it. It’s best to finish up your call before the train arrives, and if you get on the train while still on the phone, you have a couple more seconds to wrap it up before you literally waken the Japanese train gods and horribly upset them.
But, there are loop holes to the Japanese train gods etiquette rules on the train. You can answer a phone call long enough to let the person know that you are on the train and that you can call them back once you arrive at your station you are getting off on.
It’s best to always have your phone on silent mode. The Japanese actually call this ‘Manner Mode’. There are many message announcements in both Japanese and English that will remind you to have your phone on ‘Manner Mode’.
Trains overall are quiet. So any noise that erupts from a phone will be noticeable.
Give up your seat for Pregnant, Handicapped, Injured, Older Individuals and People with Young Children
This is pretty simple and it comes down to giving up your seat to individuals who more so need your seat then you do. There are priority seating areas on the trains, but many times these people will not use these seats. It’s because of the politeness factor and the ‘I don’t want to be a bother’ syndrome in Japan that this happens.
But either way, there will come a time when these select few of heroes come on to the train and will need your seat. Many times you will know they want your seat by staring at you. If you ask them if they want the seat, they will pull the ‘I don’t want to be a bother card’, but don’t pay any attention to their ‘no it’s okay’s’ just give them your seat. This will make the Japanese train etiquette gods very happy and you will not be slain when you leave the train.
Instead, you’ll be allowed to live another day and you get 1 free get out of jail card which can be used when you accidentally break one of these train etiquette rules! Pretty useful for not being struck down later in your train riding career.
Being Gross and Riding the Train = 3 Public Lashings
Just because there is a lack of deodorant in Japan doesn’t mean you want to me sticking it up in a cramped train. In fact I just watched a very interesting video that explains the reasons Japan doesn’t have very much deodorant in Japan to choose from, and it basically comes down to genetics. Check it out here.
But when it comes down to it, be aware of your stinkiness. Best bet would be to carry some kind of deodorant with you while you travel about Japan especially on the trains! But overall, be sure to avoid heavy metals in your deodorants as that causes cancer. So be selective with your stink be gones, avoid cancer and please the Japanese train etiquette gods all at once.
So that’s it, you now know these very important religious rules from riding the trains in Japan. You may also want to understand the all important Chopstick Etiquette guidelines in Japan… least you be punished by the Chopstick gods.