Here are 11 customs you should know before traveling to Japan.
1. No. 4 is avoided at all cost.
In Japan, the number “four” is avoided because it sounds very similar to the word for death. In the same vein as No. 13 in Western culture, No. 4 is extremely unlucky and is used as little as possible. You must always avoid giving anyone something in fours because it can be seen as a very ominous gift.
Elevator labels will often be missing a fourth floor — and in extreme cases, they will not have floors 40 to 49. No. 49 is especially unlucky, as it sounds similar to the phrase that means “pain until death.”
The practice of avoiding No. 4 is called “Tetraphobia,” and it is common in many East Asian and Southeast Asian regions.
2. Blowing your nose in public is considered rude.
Blowing your nose in public is seen as not only rude, but simply disgusting. Instead people will generally sniffle until they find somewhere private. If you simply must blow your nose, it is recommended that you do so as discreetly as possible.
The Japanese are also repelled by the idea of a handkerchief.