6 Important Japanese Customs

Japanese customs are at the center of Japanese culture. First and foremost, there are the etiquette traditions and rules that we have outlined in our cultural guide to Japan. These are important and tourists should strive to follow them as a sign of respect. But on top of that, there are many customary Japanese activities worth experiencing during your time in Japan. Here are six of the most recommended Japanese customs to partake in.

1. Tea Ceremony

japanese tea ceremony customs

The traditional Japanese tea ceremony, known as “Sadō” or “Chanoyu,” holds deep cultural significance. Rooted in Zen Buddhism, the tea ceremony emphasizes harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility. Participants engage in a ritualistic preparation and consumption of matcha, a powdered green tea. Attending a Japanese tea ceremony provides insight into Japan’s cultural heritage, etiquette, and aesthetics. Guests should follow the precise movements and appreciate the meditative atmosphere, fostering a deeper understanding of the importance of mindfulness and connection in Japanese customs.

Join a Traditional Tea Ceremony

2. Visit an Onsen

japan spa onsen

Onsens, or hot springs, play a vital role in Japanese culture and are famous for their therapeutic properties. Bathing in an onsen is a communal activity deeply ingrained in Japanese society and it is an important component of the spa and wellness industry. Proper etiquette is crucial, such as thoroughly washing and rinsing before entering the communal bath. This practice not only rejuvenates the body but also symbolizes purification and spiritual cleansing. Beyond the physical benefits, experiencing an onsen reflects the Japanese appreciation for nature and the belief in the healing powers of natural elements.

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3. Shrines

Toshogu Shrine Nikko, Japan

Japan is home to countless beautiful shrines, each offering a glimpse into the country’s rich religious and spiritual traditions. Shinto and Buddhist shrines are scattered throughout the landscape, serving as places of worship and reflection. When visiting a Japanese shrine, visitors are encouraged to participate in customary rituals like washing hands before entering, making offerings, and bowing respectfully. These practices highlight the profound connection between the Japanese people and their spiritual heritage, emphasizing harmony with nature and the divine.

Visit The Nikko Shrine

4. Sumo Matches

sumo wrestling japanese customs

Sumo wrestling in Japan stands out as one of the country’s most iconic and ancient traditions. Attending a sumo match provides an immersive experience into the world of this revered sport. The rituals, such as the elaborate ring-entering ceremony and the rhythmic stomping of feet, showcase the respect and discipline inherent in sumo. Understanding the symbolic gestures and rituals enhances the spectator’s appreciation for the sport’s cultural significance, illustrating the unique blend of athleticism, tradition, and spirituality. Unfortunately, sumo matches are not frequent throughout the year, so your best option is to attend a sumo practice and gain an insider look at the sport.

Attend a Sumo Practice

5. Sleep in a Ryokan

japanese customs ryokan hotel

A stay in a traditional Japanese inn, or ryokan, offers a distinctive blend of comfort and cultural immersion. Characterized by tatami mat floors, futon bedding, and elaborate kaiseki meals, ryokans provide a glimpse into traditional Japanese hospitality. Guests are expected to observe customs such as removing shoes before entering, wearing yukata (cotton robes), and practicing humility and gratitude. This cultural experience emphasizes the importance of simplicity, mindfulness, and appreciation for the aesthetics of daily life.

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6. Karaoke

japanese customs karaoke japan

Karaoke, a popular form of entertainment in Japan, offers a unique glimpse into the more modern aspects of Japanese culture. While it may seem lighthearted, there’s a cultural etiquette to karaoke. Participants take turns singing, and the emphasis is on enjoyment rather than talent. This social activity fosters camaraderie and breaks down social barriers, showcasing the Japanese love for fun and community. Understanding the nuances of karaoke etiquette adds a vibrant and contemporary dimension to one’s exploration of Japanese customs.

Experience These Japanese Customs With Tourist Japan!

Whether you want to participate in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony or pray at a beautiful shrine, Tourist Japan is here to help make it happen. With our wealth of knowledge and experience, we’ve sought out only the most authentic and genuine Japanese cultural experiences. Don’t go for some touristy adaptation of these Japanese customs, secure the real deal and live like a true local – even if it’s only for a few hours! Once you’ve booked your cultural tour, get prepped with our handy Japan culture travel guides.

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