Learn how to behave in a Japanese House or Ryokan
During your tour with Rediscover Tours you may be staying at a Japanese house and/or a ‘ryokan’ (Japanese inn). Here are some guidelines.
When entering a house or ryokan, you may be asked to take off your shoes in the genkan (entrance). Either leave them on the floor facing out or put them in the shoe box or shoe shelf. After you take care of your shoes, change into a pair of house slippers. It is customary to wear these slippers throughout the building. The only time you should take them off is when you enter a tatami mat room, bathroom or restroom. On tatami mats please wear your socks or your bare feet. In the restroom, change into the restroom slippers which you will find when you open the restroom door. Please do not forget to change back into your house slippers when you leave the restroom.
Many Japanese homes and ryokans have tatami mat rooms. In the tatami mat room there is usually a low table used for dining. In some homes and ryokans low-lying chairs are provided for guests to sit around the table. However, if no chairs are available then zabuton or cushions are provided. When sitting on a zabuton, the formal way of sitting is called seiza, a kneeling style of sitting which can be very difficult for Westerners (your legs may turn numb very quickly!). An alternative for men is to sit cross-legged and many women sit on their knees with both legs lying to one side. The sitting rules are not strict however and you can sit any way you feel is most comfortable.
It is popular for everyone to share food from common dishes when dining together. Dining is an important part of socialization in Japan and sharing food is a way to break down the barriers and bring people closer together. Use the opposite end of your chopsticks to transfer food from the shared dishes to your plate. Alternatively, serving spoons or chopsticks may be provided.
Here are some basic table manners to remember:
*Before eating say ‘itadakimasu’ (ee-ta-da-kee-maas) which means ‘I humbly receive this food’ and at the end of the meal say ‘gochisosama deshita’ (go-chi-so-sama-deshi-ta) which means ‘thank you for this food’ or literally ‘I have feasted’.
*Blowing your nose or burping at the table or in public is considered rude but slurping your noodles is OK.
*If you are drinking alcoholic beverages, it is a Japanese custom to serve other people and let others serve you. It is polite to periodically check other people’s cups when they are getting empty and refill them. If you do not want to drink any more just leave your cup full. Do not start drinking until everyone’s glass is full and then say ‘kampai’, the Japanese word for ‘cheers’.
*Do not stick your chopsticks into your food or pass food from chopsticks to chopsticks. These techniques are only performed at funerals.
*Do not point at someone with your chopsticks or wave them around in the air. Use them quietly and discreetly.
*If you are taking a break during eating or if you are finished eating, lay down your chopsticks with the tips pointed to the left.
Rediscover Tours arranges amazing trips whether you are traveling with your family, on your honeymoon, as a couple or as a group of friends. We work with you to make sure everything is exactly as you want it.
If none of our tours match exactly what you have in mind that is OK. Just let us know what destinations you like or what kinds of sights or activities you enjoy. We will create a custom tour just for you.
A group composed of people you already know. Planning a corporate trip, an adventure for your sport club or simply for a group of friends these customizable tours are for you.
The tours featured throughout our website are intended to give you ideas for what's possible when you travel with us. Treat them simply as inspiration, because your trip will be created individually by one of our specialists to match your tastes and budget.
It was our first trip to Japan. Working with Jeff was a pleasure. His knowledge of the country and local contacts were very helpful. Choice...
Working with Jeff at Rediscover Tours was a wonderful experience. He helped me plan a 10 day trip of a lifetime to Japan with my mother...
I would like to take this opportunity to commend and thank you for the marvelous vacation we recently enjoyed in Japan. The entire experience exceeded...
Our team of Japan experts have all lived in Japan for years and know its the hidden treasures. Our team is here to answer all your questions and to build your tour just the way you want it.
Jeff was born in a south suburb of Chicago named South Holland and lived in Japan for 14 years. He now lives in Commerce Township, Michigan with his wife Yoshimi, son Shota, and daughter Mina. He enjoys playing with his kids, volunteering with his daughter’s marching band, cycling and training and teaching Aikido.
Michiyo was born in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido Prefecture though currently lives in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture. Her main passions in life is traveling all around the world and enjoying their cultures.
Izumi has spent most of her life in the Kansai region, except for the 10 years that she enjoyed in the UK. Living abroad has made her appreciate her own culture and local beauty even more. She currently lives in Osaka with her family, including two cats and two dogs.
Great trips don't just happen; it takes expert knowledge and years of experience to create a truly memorable holiday. You can rely on Rediscover Tours to make your perfect Japanese experience. Our dedication to excellence makes the difference.
Your Japan travel expert will create your trip just for you
Your interests and travel style will be front and center when designing your tour
Accommodations will be selected based on your style and we will inform them of all your special meal and physical requirements
Your Japan expert has lived in Japan or is Japanese
They know the hidden treasures of Japan that you will love and most tourists miss
Most of our team lives in Japan giving them first hand knowledge of the latest trends and experiences for you to enjoy
Private local guides add a whole new depth to your Japanese tour
We only hire the best guides and review each trip with them insuring excellent experience
Your private guide will listen to you, show you sights of interest and will make on the fly changes to match the weather and crowds
Our office in Japan is here to assist and support you
Rediscover Tours has been organizing travel to Japan since 2000
You will arrive comfortable in the knowledge that all details are taken care of and that our Japan office is just a call away