Visiting a Japanese Home: 14 Etiquette Tips

Visiting a Japanese Home

Are you invited to a Japanese home or have you been invited to a Japanese home and not clear about what to do to show a good manner? Like any other countries, Japanese people also have their own ways of doing things. There are some general rules that you should know before visiting a Japanese home. Keep these tips in mind as they will be helpful for you to show respect to the host and enjoy your time during your visit.

1. Arrive on time

Arriving too early, for example half an hour earlier might cause inconvenience to the host who maybe has not finished the preparations yet.

Arriving late is not polite but few minutes late is considered understandable. If something happened unexpectedly and you know you are going to be late, remember to tell the host earlier.

2. Remove your coat, scarf, hat and etc

Entering a Japanese house with coat, scarf or hat is considered impolite. Before entering the house, remember to remove your coat, scarf or hat. You can carry them around your arms before the host shows you or help you to hang at the coat rack.

3. Remove your shoes before entering the house

Before entering the house, you can see the genkan (玄関). Genkan is an entryway area for the house. Remove your shoes and arrange them nicely.

4. When entering a Japanese house, say Ojama shimasu

When you are entering a Japanese house, you can greet them by saying “Ojama shimasu (お邪魔します)”. It literally means sorry to disturb you. It is a common phrase that every Japanese uses when visiting a house.

5. Change to slippers/ wear socks in the house

After entering the house, if there are slippers prepared on the floor, change to the slippers.

It is not a considerate and polite manner to enter a Japanese house with bare feet because it might make the house dirty.

It is also recommended to wear socks because you might be visiting a washitsu (和室). Washitsu is a Japanese room with tatami flooring. When you are entering a room with tatami, remember to remove your slippers.

There are also separate slippers for toilet, remember to change to the toilet slippers when using the toilet and change back to the home slippers once you have finished using it.

6. Stand until you are told where to sit

After entering the house, stand until the host tells you where to sit. You do not know which place is appropriate to sit and if you simply sit somewhere you might unintentionally take the seat of the host or someone else in the house.

7. Bring a gift

Bring a Omiyage (お土産) or Temiyage (手土産). Omiyage (お土産) or Temiyage (手土産) mean gifts.

Read the articles below to get more details about omiyage and temiyage:

What are the differences between omiyage and temiyage?

How to choose a temiyage? What are the tips to follow?

8. Say Itadakimasu when offered food and drinks

When you are offered food or drinks by the host, say “Itadakimasu (いただきます)” before you start to eat or drink. Itadakimasu literally means to receive or accept in a humble way.

After you finish the food you can say “Gochisosamadeshita (ごちそうさまでした)”. Gochisosama deshita literally means thank you for the food or treat.

9. Make compliments

You can make compliments while having food prepared by the host or make compliments about the decorations of the house. If you do not say anything while having the food prepared by the host, the host might think that you do not like it or it does not taste good.

10. Help out after eating

Remember to offer to help out after eating. The host might not accept your offer but it is a good gesture to do so.

11. Say Ojama shimashita before leaving the house

Before leaving you can say “Gochisosama deshita (ごちそうさまでした)” and “Ojama shimashita (お邪魔しました)”

Gochisosama deshita literally means thank you for the food or treat.

Ojama shimashita literally means sorry that I disturbed you. It is a common phrase that every Japanese uses before leaving a house.

12. Do not open the fridge or touch anything without asking

If you really need to touch something, you can ask “Sawattemo iidesuka (触ってもいいですか)?” which literally means “may I touch it?”

13. Ask before using the toilet

Even if you are close friends, you are still not in your house. Always ask before using the toilet.

You can ask
Otearai okarishitemo iidesuka? (お手洗いお借りしてもいいですか) – most formal

Otearai tsukattemo iidesuke? (お手洗い使ってもいいですか? ) – general polite)

Otearai tsukattemo ii? (お手洗い使ってもいい? )- casual

14. Avoid playing with gadgets instead of interacting with people around you

It is rude to play with gadgets while people in the house are talking to you or when you are doing something together. It gives people the impressions that you are not interested to interact with them or you are trying to ignore them.

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