As Japanese lifestyle, etiquette and manners are essential to be.
Japanese people are very polite and respect other people, and expect others to be so.
However, in long Japanese history, Japanese manners and etiquettes have been changing and complicating, from generation to generation, regions to regions.
If you visit Japan for the first time, you will probably wonder what you should do.
Here are some shopping customs and etiquettes that you need to know.
- Grocery Store
Use A Basket
Japanese shopping style is different from your country.
In Japan, you need to use a basket even though you use a shopping cart.
Don’t put items in the cart directly as you do in the US.
Grab a basket before starting shopping. ( if you are going to buy a few items to hold enough, it’s not necessary.)
When you are at a cashier, put a basket on the cashier counter.
You don’t need to take out all items from a basket.
Leave them in the basket so that a cashier transfers them to another basket after scanning.
You have to tell the cashier if you need a plastic bag. (It cost ¥3 – ¥5 at grocery stores.)
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Finish the payment and bring the basket to the island counter by yourself, then pack your stuff there.
Do not pack the stuff in your bag at the cashier counter.
Put An item Back At The Original Place
Put the item back in the original place as it is if you change your mind.
It’s really bad manner if you leave somewhere else.
Do Not Taste (Open) The Not Purchased Items
In Japan, you are not allowed to open the item before purchasing, even at a cashier lane.
If you open or break the item accidentally, immediately tell the staff in the grocery store.
The New Mandatory Started From July 2020 even at convenience stores.
Use A Money Tray
You might not know what “a money tray” it is, which is a tray for placing cash or credit cards when you pay at a cashier.
Japanese cashiers are a little bit bothered with customers who don’t use a money tray because they want to do something else first such as putting items in a bag, operating a cashier machine.
Do you know the lunch-time rush hour at convenience stores?
I had worked at a convenience store a long time ago, so I knew that “Speed and Smooth operation” was really required to handle endless customers.
In Japan, it is a requirement for cashiers to not let the next customers wait for long.
So using a money tray is really helpful for them.
If there is a money tray, the store indicates that they want you to place money there, so it is better to place money in the tray.
Don’t put anything else on the money tray like placing items on it.
Maybe using money tray is kind of ridiculous, but it is one of the Japanese aesthetics of etiquette.
The Confirmation Button
*Please touch the button on the screen to confirm you are above 20.
You will be asked to confirm your age is over 20 when you are going to buy “alcohol beverages” or “Tobacco”. Touch the screen button on the monitor.
Some grumpy people are not happy about this, but even you look absolutely over 20, it is the process to proceed to the payment system.
Avoid Busy Time To Order “miscellaneous work”
If you want to order miscellaneous work such as utility payments, buying stamps, the delivery service, avoid rush hours such as the time before office hours, lunchtime, especially stores in office areas, kiosks.
Don’t Cut In The Line
Look down carefully whether there is a waiting spot or not before you go to a cashier.
Convenience stores are tiny spaces, so they want to keep space open around the cashier counters. For Japanese people, it is common sense but not for you.
So look around carefully before going to a cashier.
At Clothing stores
Take shoes off in a fitting room if necessary
When you want to try clothing in a fitting room, some stores require you to take shoes off.
Use Face cover
Use a “face-cover” to avoid making a mess the clothing with your make-up and you will find a little box on the corner of the fitting rooms.
Just wear it on your head with the longer part covering your face.
It is the same thing when you go to a shoe store.
You need to put socks on before trying on if necessary.
It’s getting serious issues that clothing stores are bothered by customers who occupy fitting rooms for taking selfies.
They bring much clothing to the fitting room and keep taking selfies as if they purchased them, the worst thing is about they are not going to buy them!
To prevent bothering other customers and shop staff, some stores prohibit taking selfies.
Handle Merchandise Gently.
Especially handicraft stores and souvenir stores in Kyoto, stores are bothered that some visitors put their belongings ON delicate crafts to take pictures and sometimes break them accidentally.
Handle merchandise carefully.
Better ask someone if you want to hold delicate handicraft stuff.
At Fresh Market
At the fresh food markets,
Do not touch fresh (unpackaged) foods too much if you are not going to buy them.
In some countries, the behavior is allowed to check items out holding hands directly before purchasing,
fumbling items too much is ill-mannered in Japan.
Stores handle really delicate fresh foods such as fishes, meats and fruits,
by fumbling much some items will be bad and they can’t sell items anymore.
The open-air display style is very common in Japanese bakeries,
must use a tong and a tray to purchase bread and pastries.
For All Stores
NOT Eat and Drink
Don’t eat and drink in stores especially clothing stores.
Don’t bring a wet umbrella in the store
Do not bring a wet umbrella in stores.
- Leave it in an umbrella stand around an entrance.
- use a plastic bag or own umbrella bag.
Check out an umbrella bag at 100 yen stores!
In Japan, there are still many places that you can’t use credit cards, especially private own retails or local small retails.
Also, it often happens that an international credit card will not go through transaction the payment system.
Bring cash with you all the time during traveling in Japan.
You can withdraw cash with international credit cards at Japan Post Bank(Yucho, ゆうちょ) and Seven eleven convenience stores.
Need to Know Return Policy In Japan
I am really impressed with such a gentle return policy in the US!
It is not easy to return items most of the time in Japan, so that don’t think about the same way.
- MUST be unopened, not used,
- Required the item tag and the receipt
- Within a return acceptable period
- Accept retuning with specific reason only
Consider enough when you purchase items in Japan and it is easy to think you can’t return them.
You will hear the staff greeting something Japanese to you when stepping into the stores.
Never mind. You can ignore it, I mean you don’t have to replay it, just smile back.
It is the custom phrase that sellers say to customers, means “Welcome” “Come in and see” “Welcome in”
My husband had said “Irrashaimase” back until I told him the meaning. (Haha)
I talked about shopping etiquette tips in Japan, but I am sure you have the same common sense in these in your countries.
And don’t be so nervous, Japanese people will not expect you to follow all rules during your trip if you show respect.
Other “Etiquettes Guide”