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Japanese Etiquette Rules You Should Never Forget

Don’t be nervous when going to Japan for the first time with your Japanese girlfriend to meet her family. All you really have to do is list down the things you should need to prepare for but where do you start, right? We’ll get to that in a minute but, in a nutshell, at the top of that list should be researching common Japanese etiquette.

The Japanese people are really polite. It’s because they still give importance to honorific language (like there’s a specific term to call someone older than you) and tradition. Here are a few basic ones to get you started.

Japanese Etiquette You Should Include In Your Life, Dating Or Not

Japanese Etiquette #1: Bowing

This is the first thing because you’ll likely bow a lot of times while in Japan. You should do it right too when you finally meet your Japanese girlfriend’s parents. Maybe the question really is, as a foreigner, should you even bow in the first place? The answer: yes, but the Japanese won’t be as strict with you. Bow your head slightly while bending your waist a little bit.

Japanese Etiquette #2: Gift giving

You should definitely bring something when going to your Japanese girlfriend’s house. It’s customary in Japan and an integral part of the Japanese social life. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive or big. Simple gifts like cake or wine will do.

Japanese Etiquette #3: Receiving praise

Usually Japanese people are impressed when foreigners know how to use a chopstick, know a few things about Japanese culture or if a foreigner knows how to speak a few Japanese phrases. Doing any one of these will definitely make you the receiver of a lot of praises. Here’s  the thing, though, instead of saying the usual, “Why, thank you for noticing” you have to respond something that’s similar in meaning with: “Not at all”.

Japanese Etiquette #4: Leave your shoes

You’ve seen the movies right? Well, you have to do it when you’re in Japan – remember to leave your shoes before entering the door. You might have to put on slippers that are specifically for inside the house. If unsure or if you feel like you’re going to forget, make sure that you tell your Japanese girlfriend to remind you about it.

Japanese Etiquette #5: Sitting

Yes, you guessed it. You also need to watch the way you sit. In formal settings, you should tuck your bent legs underneath your buttocks but in usual settings, you can sit however you want. It just has to be on the floor. So that’s it for sitting – just remember when to sit formally and when to sit casually.

Japanese Etiquette #6: Two hands

So you already know the concept of “honoring” someone who’s older than you by using specific words to address them, right? Now this: with the same concept in mind, you also have to do a certain action when handing something to someone who’s older. This is what you do: use both your hands to hand an object to someone older than you. It’s the polite thing to do.


You know that you won’t be able to remember all 6 without practicing, right? You may also want to ask your Japanese girlfriend a couple more tips if you’re not satisfied with just 6. Don’t worry about it because you’ll do great!