Here are some tips I gathered about Japan’s food and culture over the past three trips I have had. I hope it comes useful to you.
- Japanese folks are very disciplined when it comes to time and following the law. Punctuality is highly valued which will reflect in their systems such as transportation. They waste no time where you will find them going straight after their own business. Rules are followed from lines in trains to guidelines in tourist spots. If you are not in a hurry, make sure you don’t stay in the middle of the path as that would mess up the flow.
- In most public places, I observed adults to be highly reserved, sitting quietly in the train for instance. Making noise beside them would be disruptive; therefore, good behavior is advised.
- Most places, especially residential areas, require people to remove shoes. It is highly critical to observe this tradition. Most houses I have been to have designated slippers for the bathroom. It came as no surprise to me when the host of the hostel we stayed at in Osaka cleaned the wheels of my bag upon entering the premise.
- Do not eat while walking. I remembered the time when I first visited Japan. My friend was asked to sit down while eating his ice cream while we were at a mall. It was quite embarrassing as I felt like we were representing our country.
- Clean as you go. In most food courts that I saw, people would bring their tray to designated cleaning areas. Though there were people going around to clean the tables, it was still encouraged to bring your own dirty dish.
- There are numerous convenient stores in Japan. I saw it in almost every corner that I visited which made it easy and comforting to know that I can always have access to things that I may urgently need. These stores are almost always complete. They even have gift envelopes for money if you don’t have time to go to a store or mall.
- Some restaurants don’t have English menu but photos and food models outside their restaurant come in very handy especially for tourists. Because I was not sure what some food were, I chose the most popular ones like katsudon and gyudon. Reg was more adventurous, trying out ramen curry among other things.
- There is no need to give tips in restaurants.
- Itadakimasu is what Japanese would usually say before eating their meal. Families or groups would wait for each other before starting to eat. This is probably because most families are small so it would be rude to start ahead unlike in other cultures. Unfortunately, I was sometimes too hungry to remember this.
- Sushi in Japan is very simple. Do not expect the same types of sushi and maki as those served in the Philippines which have been commercialized to suit Filipino taste buds.
- Finish the food in your bowl. Every last grain of rice must be consumed. This was quite a challenge to me as meals were served in huge quantities. Thankfully, Reg helped me comply to this Japanese tradition!
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