Travelling to Japan

Travelling to Japan. What is worth knowing and how to prepare?

We travel around the world to rest, to get new impressions, to experience something interesting and different from our everyday life. We often travel to learn about the art, customs and traditions of cultural circles so different from the ones we know so well or even to play in a ビットコイン カジノ. Japan is becoming an increasingly frequent travel destination. However, the cultural barrier is difficult to overcome. How not to offend the Japanese, what to do to get to know their world best? You can read about what you should know before travelling to Japan in our article. You are welcome!

Looking straight in the eye – Travelling to Japan in our western culture, someone who does not look their interlocutor in the eye is considered a liar or, at best, a person lacking courage. Making eye contact is an indicator of sincerity, confidence and good intentions at the same time. Yet in Japan it is still considered a rare impudence. Similarly, if you want to ask for directions, absolutely do not touch a Japanese passer-by. Such contact is an intrusive invasion of his personal space. Note that the Japanese, even when crossing the road in a crowd, do not touch or look at each other.

A bow versus a smile – textbooks and poems can be written on the subject of bows. The depth or degree of the bow differs depending on the situation and the relationship between the people who exchange this greeting. In order not to offend anyone (especially an older person of age or position), it is safest not to bow. You can replace it by bowing your head and smiling politely. If you are visiting a Japanese home, you should prepare in advance and practice bowing.

A gift of gratitude – when going on holiday to Japan, it is worth buying many local trinkets from your country or region. These may include sweets (Wawel chocolates, the Krakow mix, Wedel bird’s milk), sets of postcards, CDs with Chopin’s music performed by Poles. Such souvenirs will come in handy almost at every step: as a token of kindness, as a thank you for inviting us home, as an illustration to describe our culture. The Japanese love it. Any occasion is good to give gifts, get gifts and exchange gifts.

Space deficit – the population density is 336 people per square kilometre. Considering that much of the country is covered by mountains, Japan is really quite… cramped. An apartment of 17 square metres is considered suitable for a family with two children! Futons, or bedding, are simply put away in the wardrobe when you get up. The Japanese spend all day outside the home (at work, at school). Hardly anyone eats at home. Also popular are love hotels, where couples rent rooms by the hour. Another curiosity (from our point of view) are cafes where you can stroke cats. Having a pet at home is a luxury few can afford, so the Japanese make up for it by playing with pets belonging to the owner of the eatery.

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Collecting insects – insects are plentiful in Japan during the rainy season. Cicadas are present in the culture, appearing as a motif both in books and on kimonos.  For the Japanese, nature is threatening (it’s a seismically active area, tsunamis, earthquakes and floods just happen), so they admire nature when it is tamed. Collecting insects has pluses – collections don’t take up much space, and you can swap out exhibits for new ones every year. Running around suburban parks with a butterfly net is a common weekend activity.

Autumn moon watching – Japan’s nature is associated with admiring the cherry blossoms and the plum trees that bloom in front of them. Some may also associate the Japanese art of planning gardens, shaping plants (bonsai), or arranging bouquets (ikebana). The Japanese consider themselves to be very lucky, as they believe that only they can see all four seasons on their land. Indeed, they know how to take advantage of their charms like few others. Tourist maps mark the areas where trees bloom most beautifully and where to go in autumn to admire the reddish colouring of the leaves. What is more, on the long autumn evenings, the inhabitants meet to feast by the light of the rising moon. Today, this custom is becoming more and more difficult to cultivate in cities, yet the tradition continues. It is only what is transient that delights.

Vending machines – you may suddenly get hungry while admiring the moon, so what then? Just look around, there is bound to be a vending machine nearby selling drinks or snacks. You can buy heated or chilled coffee or green tea, but not only! There are vending machines with salads, ice cream, instant soups, but also swimming caps, etc. etc. etc. The existence of ‘calorie mate’ is surprising – it’s something like a wafer with, for example, a bagatelle, 1000 calories. It tastes awful, experts say it resembles cardboard, but it quickly and effectively soothes hunger. Vending machines selling used girls’ underwear used to be famous – nowadays the Japanese sanitary inspectorate forbids the sale of such goods.

Nose-pulling – the same equivalent of our sanitary inspectorate encourages the wearing of masks. Especially people whose job involves a lot of contact with other people (for example, cashiers) are at risk of being attacked by bacteria and viruses. The Japanese are famous for their health and longevity, perhaps thanks to their white masks? But handkerchiefs are not in use. Neither hygienic nor reusable. The Japanese… are attracted to their noses. The use of handkerchiefs is considered a highly intimate activity, absolutely impossible, unheard of in public. It is surprising that you can buy handkerchiefs with the favourite motif of Japanese women – hello kitty. You can buy them, but you cannot use them in front of people.

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Suicide – it is something like a duty, an obligation imposed by generations, origin and social status. Giri is also a debt to the country. It contains the basis of loyalty, obedience and gratitude. Why is it so important? The Japanese value honour highly. If they fail to live up to their responsibilities (they will be responsible for a tragedy, fail in some other way, or two opposing rationales cause an unresolvable conflict, or they cannot stand the pressure) they often choose suicide. Japan has long had the highest suicide rate in the world (25 people per 100,000 inhabitants per year) and still leads the way in these unhappy statistics. It is worth noting that suicide in this culture is understood as an honourable way out, as a final but nevertheless solution. Suicides are not considered worthy of condemnation.

How to refuse – it is best not to refuse. A Japanese will not start a sentence with “no” , or even with “unfortunately, but…”. This can cause confusion when asking for directions, help, a favour or advice. “Do you happen to know where my bus leaves from”? – Even if he has no idea, he will reply: “Yeah-yeah, I think, I think, I feel something…”. This is not rudeness, it is just wanting to get out of a situation. When a Japanese man or woman, especially a Japanese woman, does not know what to say, they simply ignore the foreigner asking the question. This gives the foreigner a chance to leave. This is how politeness is understood.

The Japanese in their language have so many options, nuances and ways of saying apparently the same thing that our Western languages seem rude to them. As a result, when they switch to English, for example, they are extremely direct, to the point of insolence. They try to be polite by our standards, but it comes out differently. In the same way, if we try to behave like them, we may become ridiculous while Travelling to Japan. So it is best to go natural and be prepared for many cultural surprises.

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