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  • Things to know before visiting Okinawa

    Eating with chopsticks

    Eating with chopsticks ©Brandon Conelly/Flickr

    You might also call this post things to know before visiting Japan, as the rules of politeness that follow are quite general, apply for the whole country. However now it concentrates on how to treat the locals in Okinawa, this less known but not less lovely part of the island nation, and how you can expect to be treated.

    If you believe I have missed something and there are more things to know before visiting Okinawa, feel free to raise your voice in the comment section! 

    Meeting new people is not hard in Okinawa

    Watch the video to see how friendly the folks in Okinawa are with the average visitor, especially compared to some other parts of the world that are also shown.

    Small restaurants and bars are wonderful places to make new friends, Okinawa’s people are more likely to open up for some conversation and who knows, maybe you will find some lifelong friends.

    How to greet someone

    The Eastern version of handshake, the bow, is widely practiced in all circles of interaction, at the bank, in a restaurant, between acquaintances – it is an essential form of politeness. It is meant to express gratitude, respect, can be an apology or just showing respect. You should always return the bow at least with an informal, 15 degree, nod with the head. The formal way is 30-45 degrees.

    Visiting an Okinawa home

    You should consider it an honor to be asked to visit someone’s home. And it is absolutely imperative that you remove your shoes before you enter someone’s home. Also, if you are waring a coat, hat etc. remove them before the door is opened before you and do not put it on until it is closed behind you – it is also a question of respect in Japanese culture.

    Shoe policy in Japan

    Shoe policy in Japan ©

    Giving gifts for our host

    It is polite to bring a gift with you if you visit someone’s home – this gift should be given at the end of your visit or very privately. If you happen to receive something, you should do two things. The first is that at acceptance try to shyly refuse the given things one or two times before you actually take it. The second is that you should always return the favor when you receive something.

    Eating like a local

    There are a few things to know before eating in Okinawa. First do not blow your nose at the table – or any other public place for that matter. Then you should always eat every last rice seed on your plate – Japanese know the great value of food. Also, do not pour a sauce on the rice but into a small bowl and then dip every bite. It is good to know that they only leave chopsticks standing up in the food at funerals, so…do not do that either!

    Eating with chopsticks

    Eating with chopsticks ©Brandon Conelly/Flickr

    This might all seem a little too much for some, but hey! Isn’t getting to know Japanese culture one of the reasons to visit Okinawa? Have fun on your vacation! And if you travel to Okinawa do not forget to taste the famous awamori, a local drink distilled from rice.

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