"SOCIAL LIFE" (Transportation, Social intercourse)

23) Working hours and lunch breaks

The working hours in many offices and factories are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Our lunch break is usually from 12 to 1 p.m.

24) How we commute and the time it takes to do it

In large cities, it is normal to take more than an hour to reach one's office. Public transport is the usual form of transportation.

25) Traffic laws and roads

We drive on the left side of the road, and generally observe traffic regulations. Our sidewalks are not very well maintained. Roads usually have telegraph poles on both sides.

26) How one looks after his car?

A Japanese car owner doesn't usually remove the vinyl seat covers in his car until they are torn. He generally keeps his car in a good condition. Many people hang "Omamori" (lucky charms) in their cars to safeguard them from accidents.

27) What office workers wear?

Many office workers wear ties and suits even in summer.

28) Getting on and off buses

Bus drivers generally follow the rules regarding the passengers getting on and off their buses, rather closely. For example, passengers can only get on and off buses at designated bus-stops, and the driver won't start the bus until he has shut the door. The one rule which they don't bother to observe is the passenger limit.

29) Taxis

All taxis have automatic doors. The meters are often checked over, and well maintained. Tipping isn't required.

30) Announcements on trains, at railway stations and so on

The time of arrival and diparture, the destination and connection of a train will usually be announced at the railway or subway station. However, these things are not always announced inside the train.

31) Passengers and crowded vehicles

We usually get on a bus or a train even if it crowded, rather than wait for the next one. People often dash into a train just before the door closes. We even have men who are specially employed to push people into crowded trains during rush hours.

32) Inside buses and trains

Most people read books or newspapers, or sleep while they are travelling in buses and trains.

33) When one feels a stiffness

We often feel a stiffness in the neck, the shoulder and the back. Handfuls and troubles are called "kata no ni"(load of the shoulder). In order to feel easy, we round our head or massage at the shoulder. There's an electric massage machine in some houses in order to feel easy.

34) When one has a cold

It is common to see people wearing a mask over their mouths when they have a cold. It is also common for people to try to get over a cold by taking medicine, rather than going straight to bed. A person with a fever usually tries to sweat it out of himself by going to bed and piling on "futon" (extra quilts). Sometimes a water pillow is used.

35) Manners in public


Many Japanese men think nothing of spitting and throwing their cigarette butts onto the road. They usually rub the spit with their shoes to try to make it look inconspicuous.

36) Drunkeness and urinating in the street

Men often urinate in the street, especially when they are drunk. Drunken men often vomit on the street, or in trains and buses.

37) Singing in public

When we get together, we usually sing songs, and we like to let other people sing. Often on sightseeing buses, the guide and passengers sing songs together. In companies, it is common for the emplyees to sing the company song together.

38) Drink or be drunk

Men often drink too much and end up drunk. The amount of liquor a man can consume is considered to be a measure of his manliness.

39) Drinking habits


Some people move from pub to pub when they are drinking, and others sing loudly wherever they may happen to be, when drunk.

40) Breaking the law and making mistakes when drunk

There is a tendency to overlook infringements of the law and mistakes in the case of a person who is drunk, the exception to this being violations of the traffic code. Some people thus pretend to be drunk to avoid punishment for their offence.

41) Japanese parties

People sit in a fixed order drinking "sake". As the drinking progresses, they leave their original position and go to sit in front of people such as their superiors or in the case of a host, his guests, in order to exchange sake cups.

42) When one makes speeches

Speeches are usually made at the beginning of a formal party or dinner.

43) Making speeches

In a speech people often make an apology, such as "fuyuki todoki no ten" (sorry that the service has been so poor) or "nanimo okamai dekinai koto" (excusing our poor hospitality). At the beginning of a speech, some people cough to attract the attention of the audience.

44) Duration of a party

A formal party will begin and finish very close to the pre-arranged time. At home guests are entertained for, as long as they care to stay. If they stay until very late, we invite to stay overnight.

45) Punctuality

We are very punctual. "Chotto" (a moment) usually means five to ten minutes. Though we say, "see you again," it doesn't come out.

46) "Kissaten" (coffee shops)

Coffee shops are very popular, and we often arrange to meet people there.

47) The place where one entertiains guests

In large cities we don't usually invite guests into our own homes. Instead, we usually entertain them at a restaurant.

48) Souvenirs

When we visit someone, we normally take a present with us. When we return from a trip, we make a special visit to friends and relatives to give them the souvenirs which we bought for them. People leaving on a trip are given "Senbetsu", farewell gifts, which is often money.

49) That which we say when giving a present

When we give a present to someone, we usually say something humble such as "Honno tsumaranai monodesuga..."(This is only a little something, but...). When we are given a present, we don't usually open it there and then.

50) How we respond to flattery or a compliment

A woman, who is flattered or has a compliment paid to her, denies it shyly, or pretends to.

51) When a woman laughs

When a woman laughs, she covers her mouth with her hand and tries to repress it. It is said that girls going through puberty, laugh a lot. We often try to gloss over mistakes by laughing.

52) Social and physical anthropology

A dimple and an oblique tooth are regarded as attractive in young women. Japanese men have long been fascinated by the white nape of a woman's neck, and by the way the hair there is arranged. Circumcision is not common.

53) Greetings

A typical Japanese greeting is just to bow the head. When we want to be polite we bow deeply or repeatedly. Some people even bow when they are speaking on the telephone. Sports are no exception. At the beginning and the end of a game, the members of both sides bow to each other. Nowadays shaking hands has become common. However, even when we shake hands, we still make a slight bow.

54) When one meets people in the street

When we meet neighbors in the street, we often ask "Dochirae?" (Where are you going?), to which the other person replies "Chotto soko made," (Just over there). In Osaka, people running a business say "Mokari makka?" (Do you get much money?), the reply to which is often "Ma bochi bochi." (So-so).

55) Social language

When people, who don't know each other very well, happen to meet, one will say "Please come and visit me some time," the other will reply, "Yes, I'll drop in some day." However, in such a case, neither of them have any intention of carrying out their promise.

56) Praise

Praising something is a way to praise the person to whom those things belong. But, if we talk tediously about it, it will be trouble for him or her.

57) The relationship between a host and his guests


A host tries as much as possible to entertain his guests, while the guests try to remain as reserved and polite as they can. The host will say, "Nanimo arimasenga, dozo meshiagatte kudasai" (It's nothing really, but please help yourselves.). Even when the guest replies, "Mo kekko" (I've enough thank you), the host will urge him to eat more.