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Etiquette & Behavior in Kyoto

The city of Kyoto features different codes of conduct for different places. The rules and mannerisms vary depending on the locations and points of interests, as in temples, restaurants, offices and the like.

 They are also based on certain situations and conditions like meeting and greeting each other. Etiquette & Behavior in Kyoto is here to let you know about the varied customs, culture, tradition and norms followed by the locals, and the same are expected from the tourists.

It is a very important rule to take off your shoes before you step inside any house, temple or shrine. In some places you might have to remove your shoes and put on slippers to enter that place. This is done to keep that place clean and tidy, hygienic and pollution-free. Silence should be maintained in and around the temples. Taking photos, eating and drinking inside heritage buildings and sacred places are usually prohibited. Touching certain things and infringing certain areas are not allowed and any person doing so might be severely penalized. The normal procedure to be followed in a shrine is – donating money according to your capability in the box, ring the temple bell, bend and pray and then stand up to pray again. Both devotion and decorum need to be observed in the shrines.

In some places, Etiquette & Behavior are also maintained as in case of carrying umbrellas. They should not be carried along inside. It is believed as bad manners and unlucky too. Many restaurants, shops and houses have umbrella stands. You must keep your umbrella there. Some major department stores have plastic bags in which you can deposit your umbrella.

On meeting someone, it is necessary to greet with a conventional bow. This again varies with your social status in respect of the other person’s. In case of younger people, the degree of bowing should be more. However, handshake is also prevalent in the city. On any invitation, it is advisable and admirable to carry any gift for the host and hostess. It can be food items, drinks or mementoes.

There are certain table manners and decorum to be followed while dining. In many cases the restaurants provides small hot towels or oshibori. It is given to wipe off your hands. Once you do it, fold it properly before putting it back to the table. While eating, do not bend over the table. The soup and rice bowls must be held in one hand while eating. For other items use chopsticks where you can. Licking the ends of chopsticks or pointing with them is considered rude and ill-manner. However, if you are not easy and familiar using chopsticks, you can always ask for forks. In case of drinks, pour first for the other person and wait for him or her to do the same for you. If any time you catch up with a cold or something similar, then excuse yourself from the table and move out to sneeze or blowing nose. Else who knows it might offend the others and leave a bad impression !

In case of official matters or business purposes too certain Etiquette & Behavior must be followed. Business cards or meishi are compulsory. It is a usual custom on meeting someone for the first time to bow and offer your business card. The Japanese are curious to know about your job profile and designation. So it is preferable if your card shows them. But on receiving any such card, instead of putting it aside, keep it on the desk as you proceed with your meeting. Where time is concerned, Japanese are very punctual. For any social gatherings or business functions, you are expected to reach on time. While calling any colleague you can use the last name and then the common expression san. You should always try and control your temper at workplace. Anger is not the word in business in Japan. Encroaching on anybody’s personal life is not at all preferred.

On a whole, observing, following and maintaining these customs and manners simply reflect one’s upbringing, culture and tastes. Thereby, it is considered to be very important to inculcate such polished habits and conduct in one’s self and apply them in practice.
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