Rising Sun > Culture > Cultural Difference in Japan

Cultural Difference in Japan

There're a lot of people who find some cultural differences in Japan since came from their countries. I would like to write some of the differences on this page. I hope that you feel fun when you compare to the life style in your country.

The door of washroom

General Japanese usually close the doors when nobody uses the rooms, and the doors of washrooms are also included in. Japanese usually hate the smell of washroom coming out even if it isn't much smell. On the other hands, we tell that nobody uses the washroom by the door keeping opening in North America.

When you go to your Japanese friend's house, it's better to close the door after.

Light in the house

Most of Japanese houses use the fluorescent lamps for their lights in their houses. The color of fluorescent lamp is strong white and it makes some of international people get headache. On the other hands, Japanese feel little bit dark by the light colored with orange when they visit North America.

If you don't like the white lights of fluorescent lamps, it would be one of the ways that you order a fluorescent lamp colored with orange from an electrical appliance store. Because, it's bit difficult to find some lamps in general electrical appliance stores that usually have only general white fluorescent lamps.

Japanese Greeting

Basically Japanese don't have the customs, which are Hugging, Kissing and Shaking hands. And they do just making a bow called "Eshaku" or "Ojigi" for their greeting.

If you suddenly try a constant physical contact with your Japanese friends, it would let your Japanese friends be surprised.

Katakana English (Katakana Eigo)

Some of English or other country's words, which came from other countries to Japan, are called "Katakana English" in Japan even if some of the origins aren't English word. And it sometimes makes English native speakers be confused. One of the famous word would be "Television". The "Television" is called "Telebi" in Japan pronounce by Katakana English. Generally Japanese totally believe the words are exactly English even if the origins are English. When an English speaker took with Japanese and he believed that some words were perfectly Japanese, but after few months later he found the fact that the word was Katakana English.


Sometimes I heard that Japanese common sense in employment is recently changing to European and American gradually. But, general Japanese companies still keep their lifetime employment slightly. The lifetime employment called "Shusin Koyou" is the system that employees can work in the same company since their graduation from their school until their retiring age. So, the people who change their jobs were thought that they were lack endurance and inpatient or couldn't adjust to their environment.

So it's uncommon things that Japanese talk about their business plans to their friends in the comparison to European and American customs.

Lost Article

If you leave your wallet in the store in Japan and the store stuff find it, it's 100 percent that the wallet returns to you. If the shop stuff isn't in the shop when you go there, the shop stuff usually told the fact to the head of the store and then keep the wallet on the decided place.

But, sometimes a bad customer finds it and steals it if you aren't lucky.

Pigeon-Toed (Uchi-Mata)

In international people's eyes, Japanese women would seem to walk with their round-shouldered and look down. The one of the reasons is thought Pigeon-Toed called "Uchi-Mata" that is a kind of custom of their toes turned inward.

The reason that Japanese women are Uchi-Mata hasn't been found yet. And we just guess some reasons, which are Kimono or Tonbi-Suwari and so on. Tonbi-Suwari is one of the sitting style among Japanese girls and the way is sitting on the floor between their foots.

When you walk around some towns in Japan, you would find a lot of Japanese women who are Uchi-Mata.

Blood Type

Japanese usually ask their new friend what blood type you have. Because of most of Japanese believe the Blood-Typemancy called "Ketueki-Gata Uranai" that is a kind of the fortune telling by our blood types and it affects our personality. So I would like to list the general results of Ketueki-Gata Uranai below. If you have time, it would be fun to compare the result to your personality once.

Blood TypePersonality
A They would have prudent personality and care the peace of the group.
The personalities usually have a sense of responsibility and deliberate but they wouldn't like risky attempts.
The personal relations would be polite and obedient, they would want to keep the distance between other people.
B They would love freedom and the personality is active in their won way.
They would be dynamos with enough curiosities and their ideas are usually unique that don't respect the formalities.
Their personal relations are usually cheerful dispositions and they are easy to talk with everybody in their real intentions. But they wouldn't prefer being directed by somebody.
AB They would be rationalists have unique idea.
They are usually very sensitive with enough cool-headed personality to analyze calmly.
Their personal relations would be easy to keep a lot of companies with several people keeping enough distances.
O They would be sociable persons with sunny humanity.
They usually have their friendly broad-minded personality that they hate to give up.
The personal relations would be easy to be leader by their generalship and their behavior that they think a great deal of their relations with other people.

By the way, blood type A is the most common in Japanese blood type. Do you think the fact is suitable for Japanese?


It would be one of the truths in the world. If the cultures are different, the gestures are also different.

How about Japanese? I would like some Japanese gestures above.

  • Pointing their nose by their forefinger when Japanese say, "Me?"
  • Japanese clap their hands when they are laughing.
  • Japanese cover their mouth with their palm whole they are laughing.
  • When Japanese call somebody, they move their fingers under their palm. It's the opposite way from European and North American one.

When you enjoy Japanese animations, sometimes we can find the above gestures. It's also interesting to know other country's gestures. And it's sometimes very helpful in Japan.

The Biggest in Japan

What are the biggest and longest in Japan? I made the below table to list them. If the information will help you to plan your sightseeing in Japan, I will feel happy.

Longest riverShinano-RiverNiigata, Nagano Prefecture367km
Largest lakeBiwa-LakeShiga Prefecture670km2
Largest islandHonshu
Highest mountainMt. FujiNagano, Yamanashi, Shizuoka Prefecture3776m
Largest National parkMt. Daisetsu National parkHokkaido2308.97km2


We can directly drink the water from most of the faucets in Japan. And the taste would be difference by the area and the seasons. Generally, Japanese water in winter is better than one in summer, and the reason depends on the amount of bleaching powder in city water, the amount in summer is more than in winter.

If you stay in any local areas in Japan, I guess that you will be asked how the taste of water is in the area. And if you have any chances to ask about the taste of the water in the area. You might collect several answers that would depend on the area.

Car Light

We have to turn on Japanese car light before dark manually. The car sold in Japan is popular to turn on the light manually, and Japanese law decides that every car driver have to turn on the lights at night. So please don't forget it! If you forget it, it's so dangerous for every driver included you.

However, there is a special case turning on the car lights in daytime. It's a tunnel. Because, if the power electricity is suddenly cut of by any troubles whole driving in a tunnel, the lights turned on would prevent other traffic accidents. In additionally, we also have to turn on a car radio in every tunnel for catching the urgent information about traffic accidents. It also decided by Japanese traffic rules. So don't forget the radio and the car lights in every tunnel in Japan.


When you enjoy some movies at any movie theaters in Japan, you would find the fact that Japanese don't speak anything and don't laugh whole watching the movie. So it's so silent. On the other hands, it's usual to laugh in other countries if the movie is so fanny.

Sidewalk and Roadway

When we walk on the roads in Japan, the time we need to walk right side of the road. But cars, motorbikes and bicycles have to keep left while driving. The rules depend on the country, and some of countries are opposite from Japanese one. If you come from such country, you would feel strange at first. But I think that you wont feel it soon. Because, I finally didn't feel it in Canada.


I guess that you might get some pictures after your traveling with Japanese. It's common to exchange the photographs each other after some events in Japan. If you are man and suddenly get some pictures from Japanese girls, it's just general thing in friendship in Japan even if you have a so good-looking.

Seasonal Change of Clothing

We have the term to change our cloths between summer clothing and winter ones in Japan. At the term, Japanese students can wear both clothes by the temperatures of the day.

On the other hands, general Japanese schools especially local areas have the school regulations about their school uniforms. So the students have to wear the school uniforms, which are summer uniform and winter uniform.


I think that Japanese don't invite their friends to their house so many times even if it's common to have party for students in their house. But in adults, it would be none especially after getting marriage.

So if you'll be invited to the party in Japanese house, it's better to join it. And the time, it's important to arrive at the house on the appointed time even if it's a casual party.

Christmas and The New Year

Usually Japanese spend their time with their sweetheart at Christmas, and with their family at the New Year in Japan. So it's just opposite from European and North American cultures, which are that people celebrate the Christmas with their family and enjoy the New Year with their friends or sweetheart.

Inferior Goods

Japanese don't make any complaints so many times when they buy some inferior goods while staying in other country. I guess that there are some reasons and one of them is the fact that it's very unusual to buy any inferior goods in Japan. Actually I can't remember my experiences, which I've bought any inferior goods in Japan even if I was born in Japan. In additionally, it's also uncommon that Japanese companies send a bill with any mistakes.

Japanese University

Japanese high school students usually enter in the colleges or universities after graduation from their high schools. And they work in any companies after graduation from their universities, and they generally don't go back to be a student again. So general ages of Japanese university students are from 19 to 22 years old. The student who is over 22 years old have their experiences being Ronin who study before entering in the university after graduation from his high school or repeated few years. And the general term of Ronin would be for one or two years. Of course, some of them just study at their postgraduate course.


General Japanese would be gotten some home disciplines to be a modest person. So sometimes, Japanese would say "can't" or "difficult" even if they can do that. That time, it depends on Japanese culture and it's their modesty and they don't think that they want to tell a lie.

On the other hands, the boastful talking would be a bad manner in front of Japanese. It would be better to pay attention for it.


Japanese have a custom that they want to buy some souvenirs or special foods in the area for their family and friends when they travel. If you work with Japanese, you would enjoy some special local foods after they come back their trip.

Especially at our office after every vacation, we can have several kinds of local snacks around 3:00 pm in our office. So if you'll work in Japanese office, you'll eat such snacks.

By the way, Tokyo Disney Land is unique in the point that the sales of souvenirs are so high in the comparison to other Disney Lands in the world.

Chopsticks and Japanese Language

Japanese are usually surprised when international students or travelers who came from especially un-Asian area use chopsticks or speak Japanese well.

I guess the reason that Japanese think Japanese culture is difficult to be accepted by international people. And it would come from the fact that most of Japanese are Japanese race.


Japanese have the custom called Ikki. And Ikki is kind of drinking style that we drink a whole up without a pause. So it might be similar as shot, but we sometimes drink a big glass of beer and it's hard for drinker to finish. And there are several kinds of songs for Ikki and depend on area.

But Ikki is prohibition in Japan by the fact that few of young students who don't have enough experiences to have a beer die by acute alcoholic poisoning. If your Japanese friend will recommend you to try Ikki, I think that it's better to decline the opportunity for you body and your wallet.


Japanese culture doesn't have the custom paying tip. So, it's so easy to pay the money by the bill.

On the other hands, Japanese waiters and waitresses can't get any tips. So the income should be lower then European and North American one.