Japan Tourism Agency etiquette
Screenshot: Japan Tourism Agency/YouTube

Ninjas and geisha explain Japanese etiquette in these Responsible Traveler videos

Get ready for your trip to Japan with the help of these informative videos by the Japan National Tourism Organisation

Kasey Furutani
Written by
Kasey Furutani

Initially released ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Games, the Japan National Tourism Organisation released ten videos in English, Chinese and Korean, explaining the unwritten rules of Japanese manners and etiquette to the unaccustomed visitor. These short and sweet and entertaining videos star samurai, sumo wrestlers, ninjas and geisha to explain common travel topics like photography, tipping in a restaurant and visiting a temple or shrine

It's now the perfect time to revisit these videos as Japan gears up to reopen to the world on Tuesday October 11.

In autumn 2019, Kyoto placed a ¥10,000 fine for photography of geisha and private alleyways in the historic Gion. The World Heritage city also launched a smartphone update informing tourists of respectful behaviour. This video touches upon photography etiquette and teaches tourists to only take photos when the subject consents to it. 

Bathing in an onsen or sento is a distinctly Japanese experience, but it can be intimidating for those not used to bathing in public. This video explains the basics of public bathing etiquette, such as not placing your towel in the bath (hint: place it on top of your head). Nothing is worse than feeling confused without any clothes on, so read our onsen etiquette guide for a more detailed explanation of public bathing.  

Okay, we’re all guilty of letting a friend join us in line. However, this video explains why that's frowned upon in Japan. We even think queuing doesn't have to be frustrating, as we explained in our queuing etiquette guide. This video also explains how to be thankful for your food – so after finishing a meal, say 'gochisosama'

Tokyo is home to some pretty cool streets. However, foot traffic is pretty high and it's only going to get busier as tourism resumes. This video explains simple dos and don'ts when walking on the streets. Just be sure to watch where you're going and put away your smartphone to enjoy the views. After all, you're finally in Japan!

While Tokyo's transport system is one of the best in the world, trains can get really packed come rush hour. As this video demonstrates, be mindful of your surroundings and considerate of those who may need a seat. Oh, try not to get lost in these stations, too. 

Go watch the entire series here. While you’re practising your good manners, check out our comprehensive etiquette guide, which covers topics like bowing and greeting, using chopsticks and taking a taxi, among others.

This article was published on February 3 2020 and updated on September 29 2022. 

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