What are quirky local customs in Tokyo?

Answers from Our Experts (1)

Sandra Barron

Let’s focus in on an area you might not expect to find cultural differences in Japan: shopping. In Japan, you will never carry a dripping umbrella through a store. Museums and some restaurants will have racks with keys out front where you can lock your umbrella while you’re inside. But many stores will have a contraption out front that you dip your umbrella into, and then pull it out fully sheathed in a plastic bag. Simply discard the wet bag on your way out in the bin attached to the bag dispenser.
You know you have to take your shoes off when you go into someone’s home and even in some nice restaurants. But did you expect you’d find yourself suddenly barefoot in the middle of a clothing store, even familiar western stores like The Gap? You will take your shoes off when you enter any dressing room, whether it’s simple or opulent. Each stall will have a section that’s raised or carpeted, and that is a no-go zone for shoes. Once inside the dressing room, women will find disposable “head covers,” soft, translucent bags that go over your head as you try on clothes to avoid smearing your makeup on the clothes.
Finally, at the register, look for a small tray. Place your cash or credit card on this tray instead of handing it to the clerk directly.

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