Moving to Japan: 6 cultural differences to be aware of

Moving to Japan can be an amazing adventure. But this is a very specific country. Not like any other. They have such rich history and they are so proud of it. Also, their whole life is way different from people in Europe or America. If you don’t do some research on cultural differences you will have a hard time to adapt so make sure to research a lot. That is for your own benefit. The more you know the better you will be off. So let’s see some cultural differences you will be facing if you relocate there. But before we do that please note that being different is not bad, it doesn’t mean you won’t like it here. Maybe their lifestyle will suit you better.


People living in the USA or Canada are used to racial diversity. This is very common in this area. Japan is predominantly Japanese. Younger generations are actually very welcoming towards Americans and Canadians. They even know the language nowadays. The elderly population is not as good at English but they are learning. So as you can see diversity is not very common here. They like to stick to what they know and who they are and are not very open to changing their ways. Japanese adults tend to live longer with their parents than American adults.


Also, living in the states or in CA you will meet people of many different religions. In Japan, there are only two religions Shinto and Buddhism. Shinto being the original Japanese religion and Buddhism was imported in the 6th century from China. There was a poll recently (about ten years ago) and they found that 39% of Japanese people identify as Buddhist, 3.9% as Shinto, and 2.3% as Christian (ex-pats).

What is considered rude?

This one is important to know if you are planning to relocate or even just visit Japan. You should never try to shake hands with anyone. They don’t have this social gesture. Also important to know is that pointing at things or people using your finger is considered to be very rude. Just gently wave towards the object you are trying to show. They use their forefinger when referring to themselves to touch their nose instead of pointing at themselves. Any kind of public displays of affection are should be avoided since they believe that to be bad manners.


There is more than sushi in Japan. Yes, sushi is worldwide famous Japanese food but they don’t eat sushi all the time. They have so much great food to offer. But it’s still very different from what you are used to. If you are not into exploring their food just yet, don’t worry. They actually have some of the big food chains like McDonald’s in bigger cities. But be open-minded. They are very skilled cooks and have so many amazing dishes to explore after moving to Japan.

The whole world knows about sushi but there is so much more to local food in Japan.


Yes, this is something we almost never think about. From the times when we were children we were told about how it’s nice to smile and that it is a friendly gesture and the more you smile the prettier you look. Smiling so wide that your teeth are noticeable is considered to be cute right? But that is not the case in Japan. Especially for women, it’s considered unladylike to smile and your teeth to be shown. Women aren’t supposed to laugh out loud, but younger generations are starting to break those old rules.


Tipping is considered to be a gift for a good service. This is like gratitude for being served nicely. But the Japanese think that you are already paying for good service so there is no need to pay anything extra. Some even find tipping to be insulting. So even if your waiter is very nice and friendly and goes the extra mile do not tip. You don’t want to offend anybody.

A city in Japanat night.
Never tip your waiter in Japan, this is considered to be rude.

Moving to Japan

If you are preparing for long-distance or in this case international relocation you should think about hiring extra help since this kind of relocation can be quite complicated. Moving to Japan is not something only you will be doing this year but it’s a process since it’s so far away and because they are an island after all. It can be smart to hire local movers to help you out with all this hassle. Professionals can deal with transport and you deal with the packing and preparing the paperwork.

A shop in Japan.
Make sure to know all about their way of life before relocating here. It will be easier to adapt later on.


Preparing for an international relocation is not an easy task. It can get quite overwhelming but don’t worry there are experts like who can help you with the difficult part of relocation. You can start by decluttering and planning what to bring to this exciting new adventure. Don’t bring items you can easily buy there, there is no need for that. Research about all the necessities you will be needing and plan accordingly.

Living in Japan

Life in Japan will be quite different than what you are used to, but the sole adventure of it will make your life much richer. Make sure to explore everything this amazing country can offer you. Meet new people, socialize as much as you can. Don’t be shy to explore their cuisine, you will be delighted as many people are and of course try some sushi. Adaptation will take some time, but this is very reasonable. You are in a whole different country after all. But as soon as you unpack you can start making your new place a home and then you will be able to start exploring the neighborhood and meet your next-door neighbors. Give them time to get used to you too and they will surely love you.