It’s no secret that a cultural divide exists between east and west, and, likewise, it’s no secret that people leaving one culture to visit another sometimes commit accidental faux pas while traveling. If you’re headed to Japan anytime soon and the culture is one that’s new to you, you might want to check out these 15 “oops” moments committed below – so you don’t follow in their cringe-y footsteps.
#15. I gagged.
“Full (and native) Japanese girl here! something I can finally answer! English is my second language so sorry if I do that thing where I don’t make sense lol.
I think the most cringey thing I have ever witnessed is at a sushi store.
Some sushi places, we have a container with (green) tea powder and you basically make your own hot tea (there’s a spout where you push and hot water comes out on your table/counter). So you basically put in the powder then add hot water into your cup and you have your tea.
I was eating sushi one day in Shibuya which is a very populated tourist spot and there was a family who were clearly foreign. One stood out to me as she was the daughter and seemed to scream “I love japan” from her clothes and everything. So her parents were asking her things and she would confidently answer.
So they asked her what that green powder was.
She confidently said it was wasabi.
So she proceeded to instruct them to put the green tea powder into the soy sauce and mix it together. So they did. I gagged a little.
Then she encouraged them to use their chopsticks to grab ginger out of a box that is used to share with others (basically a communal box of ginger with a tong in it so it doesn’t cross contaminate).
Not only did they use chopsticks to grab the ginger… they eventually used the tong to eat their sushi since they couldn’t figure out how to use chopsticks… then they put it back in the ginger container for the next customers to use. I gagged again.”
#14. People who are loud.
“I work in a Japanese office, so I asked my co-worker this question.
He says that, despite what some may think, many Japanese don’t find it cringey when foreigners wear Japanese Kimonos or Yutaka. He also said, though it’s laughable, bad Japanese/anime Japanese at least shows that the person is trying to learn. So he doesn’t find that cringey.
People getting shit-faced and making an ass of themselves? Well plenty of salarymen and other Japanese workers do that just as often, so it’s not that bad.
People who can’t use chopsticks are to be expected, as they’re not used elsewhere.
So then, what does he find cringey?
People who are loud and butt in on conversations. People who are overly touchy-feely to people they just met (he said even hand shakes can be considered a bit of a cringe situation depending on how they’re done). Tourists trying to pick up girls at HUB is pretty cringey too, especially the super unhygienic ones that smell awful.
Edit: I talked to another co-worker. He said there was a foreigner in a park just bumbling around. The foreigner saw a bunch of little kids playing and went and tried to play with them. He took the ball and started saying “boing boing.” The mothers of these children immediately came over and took their kids away. Evidently boing is an onomatopoeia for boobs bouncing here and they thought he was being lewd.”
#13. Every old person or sad-looking girl they see.
“I hate seeing bearded Hipsters who show up wearing all North Face with huge expensive cameras hanging off their necks. They then take pictures of every old person or sad looking girl they see. I’ll take whites dressed as narator or one piece any day.”
“I’m not Japanese but I saw some very short western tourist walking through Ueno station heavily intoxicated, stopping to throw up on the train tracks. A lot of Japanese people were staring at him disapprovingly. He then tried to get in a taxi but couldn’t explain where his hotel was because he was too pissed up. Oh I suppose I should state that this person was me back in my younger days. What an absolute melt I was.”
#11. A decent human being.
“As long as you have common sense, people are generally quite tolerant and understanding of tourists not knowing all the little cultural intricacies. Really, it’s quite hard to do something actively offensive without deliberately trying. Just be a decent human being and I sincerely doubt you’ll get in any trouble.”
#10. Directly onto the road.
“Someone clearing their nose/sinuses in the street. You know, cover one nostril then blow… letting everything fall directly onto the road.”
#9. Like an anime character.
“I have a friend who lived in Tokyo until last year and he said the worst thing is a white tourist who speaks Japanese to a Japanese person but gets it completely wrong and talks like an anime character.
He says it’s nice to hear someone try to speak their language but the Americans taking like an anime character is the worst thing ever.”
“How is Logan Paul not on the top of the list? I saw a video showing a compilation of his Japan trip. Even the stuff he did before the forest was horribly cringe-worthy and disrespectful.”
#7. The comments in this thread.
“The comments in this thread are cringier than most things I’ve seen listed so far.”
#6. Ah, levity.
“Run out of business cards.”
#5. Just…so much cringe
“Asked my wife.
She stopped for a moment and then said “Fat sweaty guys in hentai t-shirts in Akihabara trying to pick up the touts for the maid cafes while holding their purchases from the onaho shop”
I gotta say, that sounds pretty fucking cringy.”
#4. What a guy.
“I lived in Japan for a few years, I’m not Japanese but speak the language.
Mostly guys in bars who think they’ll get a free flock of cute Japanese girls around them. Sure you get by easy in conversation as a foreigner but the shit some of them try to pull is crazy to me. A guy I went to school with had this “tactic” to trap girls in 4seat booths by just sitting down and not leaving. We all told him he’s being a dick but I think that made it worse. He started carrying a notebook of “pickup lines” and thought himself of some pickupartist. The cringiest I saw of him was probably how he rated all the girls in a coffee place as he entered in his notebook and then went on to try to speak to as many as he could(or the best looking). It would seem he’d study Japanese and needed help but he just had a number of cheesy pickup lines. Guys like this was not uncommon, this guy in particular even had a “apprentice”..
I later found out he married, got her pregnant and then cheated on her “openly” but didn’t give a shit. Then got fired and went back home. What a guy.”
#3. In the suicide forest.
“Film a dead body in the suicide forest.”
#2. Believe it or not.
“Not Japanese but lived there. Touch and harass maiko/geisha.
Believe it or not they’re people trying to get to their jobs. Let them get there without accosting them for your Instagram pic.”
#1. In public.
“Ask for senpai notices in public.”
The more you know!