At Kobalt we strive to help companies build a bridge between sometimes vastly different cultures and markets, and if one wants to begin this adventure on the right foot, prior knowledge of certain cultural differences and sensibilities can often tip the scales towards success. And when the business talks are over and the deals are struck, there's always a beautiful country at your fingertips wanting to be explored. Luckily, we can also help with that too. So put on your kimonos and enjoy some practical tips to experience such a wonderful country to its fullest potential!
Mastering the bow.
The world renowned bow of the Japanese people is their way of showing respect or thanking someone. You should be using it extensively whenever the situation calls for it, from a slight bow to the staff after enjoying a meal, to a far more pronounced one if you happen to meet the Emperor of Japan for any reason.
Though most Japanese people don’t necessarily expect foreigners to adhere to their customs, making a bit of an effort is a huge plus that almost always will make for a more enjoyable trip. As the saying goes: When in Tokyo…
On the move.
While the Tokyo rail system map can look daunting, it’s unarguably the best way of getting from A to B. Make sure to pick up the rechargeable Suica and Pasmo cards as soon as you arrive and it will make using public transport a breeze.
Keep in mind that trains only run until midnight, so if you miss the last one you’ll be stuck wherever you are until 5 in the morning when they resume service. That being said, Tokyo at night has an otherworldy atmosphere that is completely unique, so missing that last train can be somewhat of a blessing in disguise!
Decibels of discretion.
Politeness is highly valued in Japanese society, so everyday things like speaking on your cellphone or blowing your nose in public is a no-go from the moment you set foot on the island. While it may seem a bit strange at first, and rather uncomfortable if you happen to have a cold at the time, it quickly pays off when you realize you can read or have a nap in quasi-silence almost around every corner.
This especially applies to public transport, as cars are heavily taxed in the Tokyo area and most commuters use the train and metro to move around. The trip to work and back is probably one of the few moments of relaxation for a lot of busy workers.
A meal to remember.
If you’re ready to taste what is undoubtedly the best sushi in the world, there are a few things you should know beforehand.
If the waiter does not guide you to a table when you arrive, it means you are free to sit wherever you wish, and if you haven’t the slightest idea of what you want to order, just look around for plastic props of the meals aimed at tourists. While not all restaurants have them, and some of them look more like abstract art than food, it’s a good way of getting an idea of what you’re in for.
When you have finished your meal and are ready to pay, just cross your forefingers in the form of an X and the waiter will attend you as soon as he can. Oh and don’t even think of tipping them, it’s considered rude in almost all of the country.
Ready for more?
There are plenty of little tips that can enhance your stay in the land of the rising sun, so stay tuned for our next post soon!