Bright Side

13 Japanese Life Rules That Are Impossible to Understand for Any Foreigner

There are many stories about the peculiarities of the lives of the Japanese people. And if you ever visit the country of the rising Sun, be ready to accept the local behavior rules: don’t plan to visit anyone as a guest, plan to bring your trash home from the outside, and never blow your nose in public. And oh yes, it is pointless to tell anyone that you are a vegetarian — they’ll give you meat anyway.

Bright Side has compared the lifestyles of the Japanese with those outside of this culture and it seems that these are 2 parallel universes that have nothing in common.

Japanese women don’t dye their hair anymore.

A couple of years ago, just like any other girls in the world, Japanese women often dyed their hair brown or did frosted tips, now natural dark hair is trendy. School and college students have to have natural hair color. And if it is not dark, they have to show photos that prove it is their natural color, for example, childhood photos.

What about the crazy colors? Well only anime fans and cosplayers do it in Japan.

The Japanese don’t invite their friends to their home.

Inviting even a close friend to your personal space is something very unusual here because people in this country are pretty reserved. All meetings are planned in public places. The Japanese don’t visit each other for no reason: they have to have a very good reason to do this.

Nobody eats while walking.

The Japanese truly value food, they even sort of worship it. And the very process of eating food is something sacred here. The people from Japan won’t just walk and eat at the same time. However, it is okay to drink near a vending machine. Eating food on public transport is also frowned upon, but it is okay on long-distance trains.

It is rude to honk in a traffic jam.

Even during the most difficult road situations, you won’t hear any honking in downtown Tokyo. The inhabitants are really polite, they are very patient, and they don’t want to disturb anyone else on the road. People from other countries often relieve their stress and show their frustration using their horn.

It is almost impossible to be a vegetarian in Japan.

The local cuisine doesn’t assume that people might not eat meat. All the dishes have animal ingredients. Even the regular noodles, most of the time, are boiled in meat broth, so even if a dish looks vegetarian and seems to contain only vegetables, it’s most likely true that animals were harmed in order to make the meal.

A runny nose can deeply offend a Japanese person.

If you start blowing your nose in someone’s presence in Japan, you will either offend them terribly or imply to them that you are much better than they are. If a Japanese person has a runny nose, they have to wear a mask. And this is strange, but it is totally okay to slurp when eating noodles.

Resting after work is something from a different world.

Because people are terribly busy in the land of the rising Sun, people don’t have enough time to do what they like, play sports, or travel. If a Japanese person is a conscientious worker, they work more than 60 hours a week, so they have almost no free time. In other countries, you can spend your evenings doing something you love.

The Japanese can’t help each other with work.

Don’t do someone else’s job in Japan. Here, work makes you a real member of society and if you pick up the trash for the janitor or help the postman, it might not be treated as help, but as a sign that you are trying to take their job.

You won’t be able to use the trash cans.

In Tokyo, there are almost no trash cans and people just throw trash in piles that are later removed by special services. This is because in the beginning of the 2000s, trash cans were often mined and as a result of these terrorist attacks, people died.

Many Japanese people actually prefer taking their trash home and getting rid of it there. They also only smoke in designated places, so there are no problems with cigarette butts.

In Japan, people notice all the details.

In Japanese society, a strange look or waving a hand won’t go unnoticed. If your voice sounds even a little bit unusual, they will instantly ask you if you are okay. Here, people don’t even need words to understand information or predict all of your requests and wishes.

A foreign woman can spend a lot of time trying to prove to a Japanese man that she loves him, but he will only understand than when, for example, she makes him tea with a special recipe or cuts fruit in a special manner, especially for him. Even leaving her home country and all of her friends and family behind is not enough proof.

Women are paid less for their work, by default.

The patriarchy is very strong in this country. Nobody promotes it officially, but everyone knows that women should stay at home and take care of the children. And if they decide to build a career, then they have to put up with the fact that they will earn less money than a man doing the same job. This is why some girls set up their own companies with their own rules.

There is a different side of the coin here: after the wedding, the wife is in charge of the family and the house. She controls everything, even the amount of money her husband can have. Here, Japanese men often give all the money that they earn to their wives who don’t work.

There is a tradition of bar hopping with your boss.

Bar hopping with their bosses is a tradition for Japanese employees. This is how they build a stable relationship on their team. Office employees are in some sort of slavery: if they don’t go to the bar, they will be an outsider on the team, which is a huge fear for them.

If some of the colleagues don’t want to go, nobody will make them. But if they refuse, they have to follow all the rules of Japanese etiquette in order to not offend their boss, because he invites everyone to have fun and he pays for it.

In Japan, people are not paid extra for overtime work.

If people in a certain company often work overtime, they stay in the office longer and they don’t mind. The salary of the office employees is raised depending on how long they have worked with the company and not on how well they work. So, they can get a new task every day or drag one task on for a couple of days, pretending to be working hard. Many people choose the second option.

Do you think you would be able to accept these rules and live by them?

Preview photo credit Kyodo / East News