Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Asian No-No's

Off to Asia for a few weeks. First stop is Tokyo, then Hong Kong. Check back here for (hopefully) regular updates on the adventures. Unless I get traded for silk and spices, then you'll have to read elsewhere. Before I go, I leave you with a lesson in Asian customs.

Japan: no tattoos in capsule hotels or mineral baths (in Japan only Mafia and gang member's have tattoos and are therefore not welcome at most places).

Never stand chopsticks vertically in your rice bowl, this is a big insult anywhere in Asia

Never pass food from one set of chopsticks to another – funeral ritual

When taking food turn chopsticks upside down and use the sides that have not touched your mouth to serve food

China: never ever give a gift that comprises 4 of something – the word for 4 is the same as funeral

Consequently all phone numbers (purchased as SIM cards) in china that start with 4 are undesirable and therefore cheaper to buy.


Insensible said...


2, basically any place you go to that would require you to show off a large tattoo (not just any tattoo) is probably going to be skittish about allowing you in.

3 & 4, I've only heard of this relating to the Japanese. Both of them are funerary rites. The chopsticks standing up are meant to symbolize the food as an offering for the dead, and the passing from one chopstick to another is how bones are transferred.

5, never heard of this one as a taboo before, but then again you can never be too polite.

6 & 7, four is actually pronounced the same as death, not funeral. Akin to piece and peace. Some buildings take this even further and don't have fourth floors. It is either skipped or filled in.

Have fun and take lots of pictures!

sara said...

Another taboo in Japan is wiping you nose in public which for me was tough since I can be a snifflepuss when traveling. so it was torture on the metro when I couldn't blow my nose!