I rarely hold anyone to any standards. How can you know the rules of the road if you don’t drive on it? Like cab-cutting in NYC, spitting in the TLV, bringing pastries in the DAC or looking down in PVG, every place should come with a list of manners, or in some cases, maneuvers.
In Tokyo, tradition is a tall order… so here’s how to not get fired as a foreigner
Slurp yo’ noodles.
Do exactly what your mom to you not to do. The whole point of slippery spaghetti is to eat them super fast, and very hot. So get on with your loud self and embrace the slurping sound. If you’re silent, the Ramen master might take it as a sign of dissatisfaction - so beware and be loud.
Saved by the Subway.
Don’t even think about taking a cab; Japans rail system is nothing short of sheer brilliance. The uber effecient subway and train system in Tokyo is quite possibly the best invention on earth. For those traveling to more than one city, opt for a Japan Rail pass (7 days, 14 day etc.). It’s worth it. And unlike the swipe and go systems in the US, the JR machines check-point you twice. So save the stub for the way in, and out. Most likely at some point you’ll pay the wrong fare - the Japanese machines can confuse almost anyone. Just go to the Fare Adjusment counter, you cant miss it. And believe me, the guards won’t miss you.
Nothing does it for me quite like a warm body of water, and Japan is full of them. Onsens, or hot springs, are a huge part of the tradition and culture. But don’t even think about that tankini; Onsens are for nudist only! So strip and sit down (sorry, no nude photo of me here).
Kill your cell.
Despite being super tech savy citizens, Tokyo can be eerily quiet. You will rarely hear a cell phone conversation, and certainly not one on the train. When riding the rails in Japan, you should turn your phone off when near Priority Seats, keep it in silent mode when in other areas, and refrain from talking on the phone at all times. After all, thats what sexting is for.
Some eating and drinking establishments in Japan offer “zashiki”-style seating where you must remove your shoes when entering. So snuggle in sans sneakers, it’s semi-liberating.
Cab doors close automatically, so refrain from slamming them shut.
Eat all of your food, which isn’t exactly difficult when it’s super delicious
Don’t tip, it can often be seen as rude, or that you’re a silly tourist.
If you’re not an adventurous eater, learn the word for vegetarian. But honestly, just don’t be a vegetarian.