- Avoid talking on your keitai (mobile phone) while on the train as it's considered rude, and prohibited. The reason is because train companies are afraid that the signals may interfere with the pace makers of some passengers. If you must pick up, it's best to speak in a hushed voice and your hand cupping the receiver to prevent leaked noise. It's perfectly acceptable to be using your keitai for any other purpose (such as games or email).
- On Hankyu trains, using your phone to talk on the first and last train is prohibited.
- When motioning for someone to come towards you, put your palm facing downwards and make a waving motion. Never use one finger - they use that to call an animal or to intentionally insult someone.
- When overtaking or if someone stops for you, it's best to give a quick すみません (su-mi-ma-sen) to express your appreciation.
- Ringing your bell repeatedly, or ringing it the loudest it can go is considered impolite. Do the latter only after gentle rings fail to budge the road hog.
- In Japan, pedestrians own the road, followed by bicycles, motorcycles and then cars.
- Lock your bicycle. Theft of bicycles are common in Japan even though everyone has one.
- Learn to avoid metal drain covers, metal drain grills and yellow raised areas (designed for the visually impaired) when riding.
- The drain covers are slippery, especially in the rain. If you do go have to go over it, make sure to ride straight over it without making any turns, or else the wheels will slip. On the other hand, wheels can easily be trapped when riding over the yellow raised areas and cause loss of control.
- Keeping an umbrella on your bicycle is a good idea. Learning to ride one handed is also essential, although in some areas may be frowned upon by the police.
- In Japan, the customer is God. When making a purchase, Japanese people normally don't respond to the cashier - the most they do is nod, and utter answers when asked questions. There is no need to say thank you although most foreigners feel uncomfortable with it. A quick ありがと (a-ri-ga-tou) or どうも (do-mo) should suffice.
When in the cold...
- During the winter, Japanese people tend to keep their hands inside their coat pockets rather than their trouser pockets.
- When buying new pocket sized books in Japan, the cashier will ask you if you want a paper cover for it. The purpose is to obviously protect the book from your hands when being read on crowded places like trains.
- Secon-hand bookstores never offer book covers.
- In Japan, many automatic doors will only open when you tap a small pad on the actual window located on the area where the two doors meet. This is to prevent the door from opening every time someone walks past, and to save on air conditioning and heating costs.
When buying one item at a store...
- When you buy a small item, such as bread or a bag of chips, the cashier may ask you if a "seal" is enough (セルだけはよろしですか？ se-ru-dake-wa-yoroshi-desuka）. In short, they are asking you if you want a plastic bag for your purchase. If not, they will place a small sticker on the item to indicate it has been paid for.
- The word "seal" is a hold back from the old days when you would use a literal seal to stamp on the paper price tags, to indicate that an item has been paid for.
- When buying a cooked food product, they may ask you if you want a pair of chopsticks (はし - ha-shi).
- When eating at university or city cafeterias, you are expected to bring your tray back to the counter. There will be specific areas where you can rinse the dish before placing them on conveyor belts for them to be washed.
- Throw away wooden chopsticks and rubbish into one bin, and seperate reusable chopsticks, forks, spoons and cups into their separate areas.
- Note that each cafeteria has different rules. Just follow the crowd.
- A note on noodles: do slurp, but at a moderate sound level without leaving a mess.
- Women will wear their watches with the face turned inwards, so its at the bottom of the wrist.