How To Avoid Some of the Most Common (and Embarrassing, and Funny) Cultural Mistakes Westerners Make

As a Gaijin (foreigner) you are not expected to act according to Japanese etiquette and nobody will be offended from your lack of Japanese social manners, but if you do make an effort it will be very much appreciated. The Japan culture developed under the influence of immigrants from China, Korea and other countries. There is no need to worry about being perfect, as long as you do your homework and learn from the mistakes of others.

Many westerners feel out of place when they come to Japan expecting people to speak English. Feelings can be quickly triggered by people who speak English as they may not know what the deal is about.

There are many Japanese who do not speak English. However, it is usually possible to communicate with the Japanese by reading a small number of words. There are many internet sites available now where you can look up the answers to simple word questions.

There are many Japanese words which can be explained simply by placing emphasis on the words which mean the most. In terms of drawing attention, the most important word is “toko” (head). The next important word is “hito” (room). Rinse and repeat the next few words as they mean either “yes” or “no”. “oshita” (here) is used when saying the things in a way that indicates you do not want tolishing any more comment. “gaijin” (palace) is used when making a speech about someone in a respectful manner. “gaijinrono” (retort) is used when expressing criticism of someone. The proper form of address by a Japanese person is maiko and the personal name beginning with gai ( Kare) or ko (this) is used when addressing a child.

Japanese people do not change their language speeds to speak to a visitor in a reasonable time. Talk slowly and even with your hands not crossed when answering the phone. Japanese people may become angry with foreigners who turtle, complain and do not buy into things like fish or put too much effort in doing things Japanese people have done right by doing. Expect a quick response and a smile. If you turtle, relax and don’t complain.

In contrast to the US, most Japanese people can read and understand English very well. However, there are many other areas where you will have to rely on your Japanese skills. Reading signs, menus, directions, etc. By the way, careful people should avoid the signature “I do” smile because in Japan people do not use their hands when saying hello.

As for money, there are many possibilities. The Japanese yen can be an effective currency and it is safe to bring cash around even when traveling in Japan. You can use travelers checks and the bank debit card in the country. The best credit card to bring would be Visa or Master Card. Avoid charge cards and the use of debit cards.

There are many rules and regulations in Japan. You must be in agreement with the rules before you travel and base your trip completely on that. If you are not, you may find things going wrong and it is not a good idea to trip in a taxi with a bunch of strange guys you have never met.

Sticking to the weather is more important that anything else. The first two months of the year is the rainy season and July and August is thekyushi season. During this seasons the rainy days are real. Certainly, no matter how pleasant it is to have a shower, you must not assume you will have it all the time.

Then, what about the temperature. Temperatures vary from place to place. To some extent, they are higher than what the climate usually experiences. It can get to 50 Celcis in some areas and plunge to minus 90 in others. Of course, you cannot depend on forecasts but, being prepared is the best way to protect yourself.

Bring more important things with you. The light weight makes the trip easier and more comfortable. The light weight makes it easier on your back and it is easier on your health. If you lie down most of the time, you may cut loose the tension of lying flat. This can contribute toagyutta(exhaustedness).

Finally, it would be good to visit a health related website to know about the fever and disease risks to see if you should be avoiding the place. Knowing the climate and health risks can help you protect yourself no matter what you are doing.

Going on a trip can be both fun and healthy. Prepare well to avoid the common health problems that accompany traveling.