Japan government issues ‘rules of life’ to help foreigners adapt

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Japan recently introduced a Digital Nomad Visa that allows foreigners from 49 countries to live in the country for six months.

But before you pack your bags, you might want to read the “Life and Work Guide” to Japan, which aims to help foreigners adapt.

The guide, published by the Japan Immigration Services Agency, provides advice on immigration, healthcare and housing. But the chapter on “Daily Rules and Customs” is where foreigners will find specific guidance on “rules of life” that illustrate Japan’s emphasis on collectivism and respect.

These are some of the rules.

According to the guidelines, “Japanese people tend to think that loud sounds and voices disturb others.”

Not only should party and music levels be kept to a minimum, but also “voices” and “TV” levels, according to the guide.

Foreigners are also advised to avoid making noise when using “the washing machine, vacuum cleaner or shower early in the morning or late at night.”

A Japanese guide for foreigners advises against making noise when using the washing machine early in the morning or late at night.

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Listening to music with headphones may not even be enough on buses and trains.

“Make sure your music is not too loud and cannot be heard outside of the headphones,” the guide states.

Section 2.2 of the rule book deals only with “cough etiquette.”

There are even different rules for a “sudden” cough and a persistent cough.

“If you suddenly cough or sneeze, do so into your elbow or into your jacket sleeves,” he says. “Don’t use your hands.”

Others should wear a mask, he says.

Wearing masks was common in Japanese daily life even before the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, thanks to the country’s focus on hygiene and personal cleanliness.

“Japan is home to a culture of being considerate of others,” the Foreign Ministry said in an article on mask culture. “These defining characteristics of the Japanese people reinforced their awareness to avoid causing trouble to those around them, and this may have facilitated the widespread use of masks.”

The use of masks became important in Japan during the Spanish flu, which began in 1918, and has increased over the years, according to the ministry. They are now considered “a stylish fashion item,” he added.

Many countries prohibit the use of mobile phones while driving a car. In Japan, this rule also applies to bicycles.

Bicycles are a popular way for locals and tourists to get around the country, and many tourist destinations offer bike rentals, according to Japan Guide.

Cyclists in Tokyo cannot hold, talk or text while riding their bikes. Headphones are also prohibited by law.

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Talking on the phone on buses and trains is frowned upon in Japan.

The guide highlighted that such a gesture is considered very impolite as it “annoys other people.”

Talking to your seatmates can also be offensive in Japan, if it’s too loud.

“Speaking loudly is considered a violation of customs,” the directive states, referring to passengers on buses and trains.

“Talking on the phone on a bus or train is considered rude in Japan,” states a guide for foreigners published by the Japanese government.

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Most Japanese passengers stand or sit quietly when traveling on public trains, according to Japan Rail Pass, a website for train travel in Japan.

Foreigners are expected to respect such rules and are reminded to speak to the train driver only in “emergency situations,” he said.

Anyone who has ever been hit on the head by an errant backpack can appreciate the government’s latest advice for public transport: “When a bus or train is crowded, be careful that your backpack does not disturb other people.” .

Japan is an ethnically homogeneous country with lower immigration rates than other countries, said Henri Vlahović, managing director of the Meiji Academy, a school of Japanese language and culture.

As such, it focuses on preserving its culture by encouraging foreigners to adapt, he said.

“Immigration is often seen as something more sensitive,” Vlahović said. “The government is very concerned about reducing or omitting any kind of problems that may arise if foreigners do not follow certain rules.”

Vlahović explained that these rules govern the functioning of Japanese society, which is also expected of foreigners living and visiting Japan.