Japan is warm and welcoming to travellers, but correct manners are very important among the Japanese. To help create a faux-pas-free journey, arm yourself with a few of these handy etiquette tips before your trip, from when to bow and take your shoes off, to what not to do with your chopsticks.
Be sure to keep enough distance to avoid bumping heads!
Hot Springs (Onsen)
Tattoos are uncommon in Japan and can be associated to ties with the Japanese mafia, so check the guidelines of the establishment you are planning to visit before entering.
There is just one thing to be ready for, and that’s getting naked in front of total strangers. In most cases, wearing a swimsuit / clothing of any kind is not permitted whilst using the baths. Some resorts offer a choice of private onsen facilities, mixed gender and separate male and female options.
When you enter, leave your own shoes outside and switch to the bathroom slippers. These are for sole use within the bathroom so be sure to change back to your own shoes upon leaving.
Knives and forks are sometimes available upon request but are not commonly used.
If you are faced with the prospect of handing anything of value directly to someone (such as a credit card), clutch the item with both hands and deliver with it a subtle nod. It demonstrates that both parties are exchanging something of value and they respect both the item and each other enough to entrust it to the other.
Removing Your Shoes
You should line up your shoes at the edge of the lower side of the floor, but if there is a kutsubako (shoe box) or locker available then leave your shoes there. Slippers may sometimes be provided for you, however even these must be removed when entering a room floored with tatami matting.
Aside from this, hotel staff in Japan will not expect you to tip and are trained to say "no thank you" if you offer.