The custom of buying souvenirs while traveling exists overseas as well, but what makes souvenirs unique is the purpose of the purchase. Souvenirs are called “Omiyage”, and this word is specifically used for presents bought while travelling and sightseeing.
Buying souvenirs not for oneself, but for one’s workplace or close friends, is unique to Japan. It is almost an unspoken rule to bring any presents back to your coworkers and close friends after you have been travelling. It is also important to note that most omiyage are individually wrapped so that they can be distributed to as many people as possible.
The reason why the bowing culture is so surprising is because of the diversity of its uses.
Many foreigners are surprised to see how a single action can have multiple meanings, such as “thank you,” “apology,” and “greeting,” and how we use them in our daily lives.
I think this is a culture where you can feel that the people value courtesy.
Most Japanese are familiar with hot springs, but many foreigners are surprised to learn about them. The reason for this is the custom of soaking in hot water, without any clothes on.
There are also hot springs overseas, but in most cases, bathing suits are required.
Even after moving to Japan, some people find it difficult to get used to it.
A “hanko” is almost indispensable when it comes to work, contracts, or any kind of procedure in Japan. For Japanese people, this is a common sight, but visitors from countries with a signature culture may be surprised. We have an article specifically about hankos, so feel free to read about it too!
To wrap it all up
Although each of these customs may be unique and unfamiliar to you, learning them may make life easier in Japan! In addition these customs could be conversation starters with Japanese friends and co-workers!