July 17–20, 2014
Kiwanis International Convention Tokyo Chiba 2014

Convention news

Fun facts, useful tips about Japan

Jan 16, 2014
Read these fun facts about our host country and navigate the culture seamlessly using these useful tips.
  • Tips not accepted. Impeccable service is the norm in Japan, but tipping is not expected, nor accepted.
  • The theft rate is extremely low in Japan. In fact, you may even see bikes that aren’t locked or chained.
  • Upon arriving and departing, buses are often saluted by bus employees staying on the ground. A deep bow is in order.
  • You will see some people wearing white masks over their mouths. In Japan, this is a common way to protect against germs—and to prevent the spread of germs when one is sick.
  • People waiting at a bus stop or for a train will form a line.
  • Common convenience store chains are 7-Eleven, Family Mart and Lawson. They sell everything from magazines to cigarettes, toiletries, soups, candy, beer, rice balls, skewered chicken, the iconic clear umbrellas and even thermal underwear.
  • Vending machines are everywhere. Cigarettes and drinks (both hot and cold) are the most common items sold.
  • Cars will stop at a pedestrian crossing the moment a pedestrian is about to cross.
  • Children and teens wear an elaborate uniform to school. It often includes a hat or a cap.
  • If you look lost while holding a map, a small crowd might soon form around you to try and help. Don’t be surprised if people go completely out of their way to help you find the place you were looking for.
  • Cigarette vending machines require the buyer to insert an ID to prove his or her age.
  • Many convenience stores are open 24 hours a day.
  • Umbrella lockers are available.
  • Bikers ride on sidewalks. The good news: It’s common enough that riders are good at seamlessly avoiding pedestrians.
  • Do not cross the street when the sign is red at an intersection—even if there are no cars or bikes in sight.
  • Outside of restaurants, plastic facsimiles of dishes serve both as menus for non-Japanese speakers and enticements for Japanese-speaking customers.
  • Magazines in stands are sometimes protected by a strip preventing their being read in the store, thereby keeping the magazine intact for the actual buyer.
  • When entering a store or restaurant, employees may greet you by shouting, “Irasshaimase!” Don’t worry—they’re saying, “Welcome!”
  • Slurping is fine when eating noodles.
  • You may notice the word “kudasai” being repeated very often. It means “please.”
  • If you wish to stand still while going up an escalator, stay to the left. If you walk up, use the right side.
  • Stairs in the Tokyo metro are coded with arrows—one side for going up, the other for going down. They’re particularly important to follow during rush hour.
  • On the Tokyo metro, wait until people exit before attempting to board a train.
  • Taxi cabs often have white lace slip covers over the seats.
  • On the streets during rush hour, companies often hand out packages of tissues with their logos and business information.