Tokyo is a beautiful city; of this, there is no doubt. But like many highly visited destinations, it’s easy to commit a cultural faux pas during your trip. Here are five things that you should—and the five that you shouldn’t—do while in the Japanese capital.
DON’T GO TO THE TOYOSU (formerly Tsukiji) FISH MARKET AUCTION
More a one-and-done thing if you are really so inclined, you get to witness the auctions for about 20 minutes, before being sent off your way. This, after being up for almost five hours. (Remember that the trains in Tokyo stop service
DO HAVE BREAKFAST AT THE TOYOSU FISH MARKET
For a better treat that doesn’t require you to stay up for five hours, go to the market at around 6:00 AM, when the vendors ply their trade. You can duck in at almost every stall that has vacant seats and
Visit the website at http://www.shijou.metro.tokyo.jp/toyosu/ for more information regarding the new market’s operations.
DO EAT AT A RAMEN SHOP
Ichiran Ramen may be what everyone overseas is raving about, but the city is home to thousands of restaurants all plying what’s arguably the best hangover cure slash lunch-to-be-had-on-a-cold-day. If you have the luxury of time (and if you’re on a holiday, you do), go for a stroll around your neighborhood around 6 or 7 at night. Look for shops that have a line of Japanese customers. Chances are, they serve a good bowl.
DON’T FORGET TO SLURP THE NOODLES!
Not only does it make the ramen taste better, it’s also a sign of appreciation to the person who made your bowl. Don’t think too much about it—it’s not at all rude to do so in Tokyo.
DON’T LIMIT YOURSELF TO THE GOLDEN GAI
Tokyo’s famous beer-and-bites alleyways, known as “Yokocho 横町” are a welcome respite from the city’s expensive food scene. Here, small stalls that can only fit at most 10 customers at a time, serve up deep-fried or grilled meat in skewers, along with ice-cold alcoholic beverages. In short, these are the type of things you would love to eat after a night out of drinking. It feels a lot more familiar because you’re so close to everybody else.
DO EAT AT A YOKOCHO
When you hear of alleyways, you always think of Shinjuku’s Golden Gai. While the place does have its share of good bars for eating and drinking, its popularity in recent years caused prices to go up and for some proprietors to take advantage of a tourist’s willingness to pay more. Cover charge costing ¥1000 to ¥1500 isn’t uncommon to go in a Golden Gai bar.
DO VISIT A TEMPLE
Have a five-Yen (五円) coin handy.
- Bow slightly once you get to the front of the temple.
- Throw the coin to the collection box.
- Do two deep bows.
- Clap twice.
- Pause and say your prayers or just enjoy the moment.
- Do one final deep bow.
DON’T FORGET TO CLEANSE
Temples have a small basin of water where you are meant to cleanse yourself.
- Pick up the ladle with your left hand, fill it with some water from the spout (don’t scoop the water that’s already collected in the basin). Rinse your right hand with it.
- Switch hands.
- Rinse your mouth with the water. You don’t need to gargle or swallow the water. You can just let it swathe your lips.
- Finally, raise the ladle and let any remaining water fall to the basin.
DON’T FETISHIZE JAPAN
Tokyo—much like the rest of Japan—is a thing of beauty. Its citizens will out-polite you. So please, spare them the crazy antics as if you’re on a two-week acid trip.
Do the opposite of what that doofus Logan Paul did in Japan.
DO SEE JAPAN AS JAPAN
Always remember that Japan is, like the country you came from, a place where people live out their lives. As a visitor, appreciate their culture, their citizens, and their day-to-day routine.