In Japan, there are more opportunities for making etiquette mistakes than you can shake a chopstick at -- hang on, better not do that, it may cause offense. No seriously, that's a Japanese etiquette mistake you really don't want to make. But to help smooth things along and keep that all-important social harmony intact, the city of Kyoto has launched a guide intended for foreign tourists in an effort to keep them from committing etiquette mishaps.
The city of Kyoto has launched a guide intended for foreign tourists in an effort to keep them from committing etiquette mishaps.
In Japan, good manners are taken very seriously, especially if you are a tourist. Kyoto, located in the center of Honshu Island, is a tourist haven: visitors flock to the island and inhabitants criticize the lack of respect many tourists show towards Japanese traditions.
The city's recommendations to visitors include abstaining from riding a bicycle when intoxicated, not canceling a dinner reservation at the last minute and remembering to take off both hat and sunglasses when entering a temple or sanctuary.
The ancient city reminds visitors that it is always important to remain very polite when taking a photo of a maiko, or geisha-in-training. Other advice: follow the guidelines displayed outside temples, where taking photographs is forbidden.
Finally, the city of Kyoto adds that it is a good idea to thank restaurant wait staff in their native language. Tourists can learn to say "okini" (thank you) and earn appreciation from the local population.
In sum, 18 guidelines have been assembled in the document. Each one is accompanied by an emoji to warn tourists of what they should avoid doing and what could potentially shock the Japanese locals.
The complete guide is available online, in the form of an infographic at kyoto.travel.