Etiquette Rules You May Not Know

Safe to say most tourists aren’t going to crash drones into national parks, or kill swans and destroy 126-year-old statues to get a selfie. If you’re polite and sincere about apologizing for unwitting cultural faux pas, most locals won’t hold it against you. But some rules may not be intuitive.


Japan: Don’t Stick Your Chopsticks

It’s called Tsukitate-bashi and it is incredibly taboo because it’s a funeral ritual.

Other things you shouldn’t do with chopsticks:

  • Pass food from one set of chopsticks to another, because of a funeral ritual where family members pass bones of the deceased
  • Stab food
  • Point at someone


Korea: Be Prepared to Sing at Social Gatherings

At parties, the most honored person sings first and then other people get a turn.

Other social rules:

  • No hugging; you greet people by bowing, and the more elder or respected the person is, the deeper the bow.
  • Take off your shoes before entering a Korean home.  Put them in a closet near the door or just leave them by the entrance.