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Having good manners and practicing them every day will definitely add quality to your life. A well-mannered person shows respect to everyone, shows equality, modesty and kindness to anyone around.
The usage of -san
First names are seldom used in Japan. In a corporate setting, people call each other using their last names together with the suffix -san. For foreigners, calling a person by their last name may sound very rigid but for the Japanese, calling a person using their first name feels uncomfortable. To be safe, you may ask the person what he/she prefers to be called upon. Besides, when you are replying to an email from a Japanese person and you are not certain of the person’s gender, using their last name with the suffix -san is the best way to go.
Manning the elevator
In Japan, the person standing near the elevator buttons must operate it. You will be the one to select which floor the rest of the riders get off. It is also a grand gesture to help a person with their hands full to push which floor they are heading to.
Slippers off the tatami
You must take off your slippers, sandals and shoes when entering a room with tatami mats. Moreover, footwear worn outside must be placed in the “genkan”. A separate slipper will be worn inside the house, while a different slipper is also worn inside the bathroom.
What to say before and after a meal
All Japanese say “Itadakimasu” while clasping both hands together before starting to eat. Itadakimasu means “I humbly receive”. On the other hand, “Gochisousama deshita” is being said right after a meal. The phrase can mean that the meal was a feast as a way of thanking the person who prepared the meal or it can also mean that you are satisfied with the service when you are in a restaurant. Both phrases present politeness towards the Japanese.
At the table, it is proper to pick up the dishes that are much closer to you. Never eat directly from the serving plates, rather put an adequate amount of food onto your plate before you start eating. The Japanese also will look at it as inappropriate if you pour a drink into your own glass. Hence, pour drinks at everyone’s glasses and let someone notice that your glasses also need to be refilled.
How to properly use the chopsticks
Do not use your chopsticks to point to something. Your chopsticks may have your saliva and you could be swishing your saliva amidst the people around you. You must use both chopsticks when picking up your food, never pierce a food with one chopstick. Another inappropriate manner in using chopsticks is letting the chopsticks stay in your mouth for too long. If your chopsticks get a little messy, let it be, do not attempt to clean it. Lastly, place your chopsticks in a designated chopsticks holder. If there is none in site, you can improvise by using a napkin in placing your chopsticks.
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