Growing up in Japan, I had never really questioned these things. These were part of my daily life.
But after moving to California, I came to realize that these were very unique to Japanese culture. In fact, when I told my American friends about these, they were quite shocked and surprised.
I want to share some of the unique Japanese customs that my American friends were surprised the most.
Japanese people believe in superstitions associated with numbers 4 and 9.
In Japan, 4 and 9 are bad numbers and there are no 4th or 9th floor in Japanese hospitals. 4 is “Yon” or “Shi” in Japanese. Another meaning of “Shi” is death. 9 is Kyuu (or Ku) and struggle is Kurushii. So people in Japan tend to avoid number 9 also. Elevator often misses a 4th floor.
Elevator does not stop at 4th floor!
In Japan, you have to silence your phone and all you are allowed to do is to text (no talking!) on the train.
Trains in big cities in Japan are super crowded. There are people who are designated to push you into a crowded subway train. That was shocking when I first saw that happening in Tokyo. I grew up in a small town and the train station was not that crowded in my hometown.
You have to turn your phone to silent mode on the train in order to avoid bothering other passengers. Japanese people are a little too sensitive, I personally think. But at the same time, there are people who have to take crowded trains everyday for work and we have to be considerate.’
It is perfectly OK to slurp noodle in public.
They do it pretty dramatically in restaurants. All my Japanese friends in Japan do that. Of course my dad does it and he does it so fast that he gets almost choked on noodle. Apparently slurping makes noodle more delicious.
I am Japanese and am still shocked when I saw the picture of capsule hotels in Japan. They are so tiny. I am a little claustrophobic so not sure if I can make it. But it is pretty cheep and it does look coo
Salarymen are almost always sleeping on the commuter train.
But according to my sisters who often do that, they are just meditating and Japan is a very small country and cities are very crowded. By the end of the day of lengthy work hours, Japanese people just want to close their eyes to take a nap or just block the surrounding by just going into the meditation mode..
What do you think about these unique customs of Japan? Your thoughts? Do you know any other unique aspects of other culture? Be sure to provide your comment in the comment section below!
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