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Proper manners or etiquettes inside and outside of the house should be practiced whenever, wherever, or whichever country we live in. If you are planning to live and stay in Japan, Guidable.co is giving you a few of many rules to follow in a typical japanese home.
If you are new or have just moved in, visiting a relative, loved ones, or a friend in Japan, you need to learn at least some of their basic expressions. In that way, they would realize that you respect their language, culture, and their country. English may be used but most of the japanese opted not to use that language.
Basic words and japanese phrases will be a lot of help when you try to reach out and communicate with them.With that, they would feel your effort and would greatly appreciate the gesture of respecting them while you try to communicate.
These basic phrases will come in handy as a beginner in Japan:
Ei-go ga ha-na-se-masu ka or “do you speak English?”
Ha-ji-me Ma-shi-te or “hello, nice to meet you”
Wa-ka-ri-ma-sen or “I don’t understand”
A-ri-ga-tō or “thank you”
Su-mi-ma-sen or “excuse me”, which can also be used for “sorry”
Yo-ru-shi-ku O-ne-gai-shi-masu or “I am indebted to you” (or actually there’s no actual english translation to this phrase. It only means you’re acknowledging their kindness)
Greetings are used when we want to approach someone or to just greet in passing. It can be expressed audibly or physically, or can be both.
Japanese greet each other by bowing. If you’re a visitor to them, they do not expect you to exactly know how they practice proper bowing or greeting. It will take a while for you to learn their different ways and definitions of bowing. A small nod of the head can be enough to greet them. A lower, longer bow to a deep bend at the waist shows respect to them. Bowing can also be used to say thank you, to apologize, or to ask someone a favor.
Japanese usually affix an appropriate title to the name of their loved ones, friend, or a colleague. It is recommended that you know these titles to politely address their names. There are variety of titles that should be used to address if you want to start a conversation to any of them. Some of these are:
- San (the most used title that can affix to anyone’s name. Ex. Annie-San)
- Sama (commonly used in a formal situations as with clients and customers, or addressing a name in a letter. Ex John-sama)
- Kun (commonly used for younger boys. Ex. Take-kun)
- Chan (commonly used for young children in a family member, or close friends. Ex. Ara-chan)
- Sensei (commonly used for teachers or someone with a higher position)
Whenever we visit someone, it is always in our mind to bring gifts to them. Japanese loves to give gifts or what they call “Omiyage”. There are different types of omiyage that can be given on different occasions. If you are going to give a gift to any of your japanese acquaintances, you need to give attention to how it is wrapped. If you’re hesitant that the wrapping of the gift is not good, it is best to just placed it in a bag by the gift shop where you purchased it. Use both hands when handing over the gift, in that way the recipient will feel the sincerity of you as the giver.
If you were invited to someone’s home, you should always bring gift for the host. It is important to take note that giving gifts in set of four (unlucky number to them) should be avoided, because for them it is considered a bad luck. The host usually give gifts too, and it is important not to refuse the gifts offered by them.
Seat and Table Arrangements
The Japanese people normally sits on floor by kneeling. It is usually done in woven straw mats. Removing of slippers and shoes must be observed before sitting on the mat. There are also cushion that are assigned for individual. Avoid sitting or stepping onto cushions that are not assigned to you. Male japanese usually sit with their leg crossed, while women sit with their both legs to one side. But this is the most traditional pattern. In more modern cases, you can sit in tables and chairs but your seating arrangement depends on your rank. For example, if you are with clients or elder visitors or with your “sempai”, you should let them sit in the inner and most farthest away from the door. The youngest should be the last one to sit.
Washing your hands before eating is a must in Japanese homes. It is important to wait for everyone to have their meal before you start eating. If you’re dining out, an oshibori (おしぼり or お絞り) or hot towel is being offered to you. You must use this to wipe your hands before eating.
Some japanese phrases can also be used while in the dining area.
- Itadakimasu or “I gratefully received” should be stated when you receive your meal.
- Osaki ni dōzo or “Please go ahead” if you want them to go start their meal.
- Osaki ni itadakimasu or “Allow me to start before you”.
- Gochisousama Deshita or “ Thank you for the food”
If you’re eating using a small bowl, it is proper to pick it up using your hand and lead it close to you mouth and eat from it.
Burping, blowing of nose, and any unwanted noise are considered to be bad manners while eating in Japan. And when you finished your meal it is important to arrange your dishes to how they were during the start of the meal. And conclude the meal with the japanese phrase “gochisōsama deshita” or thank you for the feast. It is also important that you do not put your chopsticks in an upright position inside the bowl with food in it. It is something that is frowned upon in Japan.
Uses of Footwear
One of the indoor manners that should be observed are related to footwear. It is important to know the importance of handling outdoor shoes and indoor slippers. These are a tradition to most Japanese homes, restaurants, sacred temples, castles and other historical buildings.
When using a washroom, toilet slippers can be found that should exclusively be used inside the washroom. You must leave your usual slippers outside the washroom before entering.
Taking a Bath
Everyone needs to take a bath. This is done to clean our body or to relax. In japan, their style of bathing is similar to a hot spring or public bath. It is important to first rinse your body before you dip into a bath tub. Japanese bath tub is used for soaking only, once you are done soaking, you need to leave the tub and clean your body with soap. Make sure that no soap gets into the tub. When you’re done cleaning your body, it is only then you can go back to the tub for final soaking. Once done, the water on the tub should be left with the clean water so that other members of the family can use that too.
After a long day of work, travel, or any activities outside. Everyone needs to relax their body by means of sleeping. Japanese usually sleep in a futon. It is a 3 layer part of sheet where you can lay your body. The Shikibuton, usually heavy is the portion where you sleep on. Kakebuton, is the blanket that covers and gives warm to your body. Makura is the pillow. In the morning, futon is to be folded and placed in a closet. It is a must that the guest who slept on the futon folds it in three folds.