How come some Japanese restaurants will sell you a bento (a takeout meal), but they won’t allow you to take home your leftovers if you’ve dined in?
(Note: This might be changing due to COVID-19 encouraging restaurants to be more flexible!)
Within Japan, it is considered safe to sell cooked food even if it has been sitting in a shop for hours. Most vendors are efficient about making sure that food has not been sitting out for an unsafe amount of time, and Japanese people...
What are 4 typical things a Japanese person might do if he or she misses the last train home?
Since Japan has a strong drinking culture, it is not unusual for people to miss the last train to take them home. But they don’t panic because there are many reasonable options for them to spend the night until the first morning train runs.
Manga kissas (24-hour manga book store) and capsule hotels are cheap and convenient options. They have showers, changing rooms, and your own box to...
What is the meaning of “kenson”? Why is it important in Japanese culture?
One of the important practices in Japanese society is “kenson”, which is the culture of humbling/minimizing yourself. It is important to not appear as intelligent or as confident as you actually are. You always want to keep yourself at the bottom of the ladder.
This culture is practiced from a young age. Kids probably learn to humble themselves when they start school. If you are too...
Name 4 ways that you can use your Suica or Pasmo card, other than for transportation.
Suica & Pasmo cards are primarily used for transportation on trains, buses, and taxis. But there are other ways to use your Suica/Pasmo card for quick payments. Here are 4 other common ways:
Station vending machines
You might also see Suica/Pasmo payments available at select shops, primarily within stations.
You can buy Suica/Pasmo at the...
Every August, Japanese people celebrate Obon. What exactly is the Obon festival?
Obon is a Japanese Buddhist tradition celebrated every year to honor the spirit of ancestors. Japanese people believe that during Obon, the soul of their ancestors returns to their hometown.
The celebration takes place in mid-August over three days. Despite Obon being a sacred time of the year, it is not a public holiday. Because of this, you might want to check if any venues you’d like to visit are...
What are two places where you can find an ATM, other than a bank?
Other than banks, you can find ATMs at post offices and convenience stores. While banks and post offices have limited open hours, ATMs at convenience stores are available 24/7. However, depending on where your card is from, you might not be able to withdrawal money late at night. Convenience store ATMs are usually only used for withdrawals and deposits; if you’d like to make a transfer then you’ll need to...
What is the meaning of 空気を読む (kūki wo yomu) and why is it important in Japanese culture?
In Japan, 空気を読む (kūki wo yomu) means to “read the air”. It is one of the first unspoken rules people learn when they start building a relationship with Japanese people.
Why? Well, the most important value to Japanese culture is to maintain group harmony; it is important to listen, see, hear, and sense what others are feeling before taking action. By doing so, one can avoid making other...
Why do Japanese people wear masks, even if they are not sick?
Some Japanese people wear masks all year round, even if they are not sick. There are a couple reasons for this:
Many people wear masks in public as a preventative measure from getting sick. In Japan, a lot of people still go to work even when they are sick, so it’s important to wear a mask to avoid catching a cold, especially on a train or at an office.
Some people, women especially, wear masks to cover their faces when...
What is this object? Where do you typically see one? How do you use it?
This object is an umbrella wiper. You’ll typically see them at entrances to office buildings and some department stores. After you have closed your wet umbrella, you can shake and wipe off the excess water by sliding the umbrella through this umbrella wiper.
Japan is known to be very clean, and it’s important to keep inside the store clean as well. After getting the water off, take one of the plastic...
If you are carrying a backpack, what should you do with it when you enter a crowded train?
The answer is that you have to carry your backpack in front of you! Especially on a packed train, if you have your backpack on your back, it will prevent people from coming in. So the rule is to put it down on the floor between your legs, put it on the top compartment, or carry your backpack in front of you.
Japan is a society full of unspoken rules. Next time you ride the train, observe how...