Seancar2010 (Level 12)

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  • Thou shalt NOT BE LATE for appointments.
  • There is no custom of "Ladies First."
  • Avoid excessive physical and eye contact--forget the back--slapping, prodding, and pointing directly at someone with your finger (use your hand to point, if you must).
  • Japanese often use silence for communication as much as speaking.
  • Do not chew gum when working or in other formal situations.
  • When Japanese start working at 9 AM, they START WORK at 9 AM.
  • Avoid lots of jewelry or very colorful clothes when going to work.
  • White-collar Japanese typically leave the office only after their superiors have done so. Do not expect someone to be instantly free once the official business hours are over.
  • Exchanging business cards is de rigueur in formal introductions. You should extend your card to the other person with both hands also. Be sure to look at the card and not just pocket it. Never put it in your pants pocket and sit on it in front of them.
  • It is polite to put "-san" after anothers name, or "-chan" after a young girls name, or "-kun" after a boys name, but NEVER use these after your own.
  • Do not scream why workplaces or restaurants are filled wit chain-smokers. The "health thing" is not big here yet.
  • Avoid shouting loudly at someone to get their attention--wave, or go up to them.
  • If you have to blow your nose, leave the room, or at the very least try to face away from other people--and use a tissue--not a handkerchief.
  • Don't wear tattered clothes outside, nor socks with holes when visiting someone.
  • On escalators, stay on the left side if you plan to just stand and not climb them.
  • Japan has no tradition of making sarcastic remarks to make a point, nor "Bronx cheers" or "the Finger" -- avoid using them.
  • The Japanese gesture of "Who, me?" is pointing at their nose, not their chest.
  • The Japanese gesture for "Come here" is to put your hand palm out, fingers up, and raise and lower your fingers a few times. The western gesture of palm-up, closing your hand is only used to call animals to you.
  • The Japanese gesture for no is fanning your hand sideways a few times in front of your face. 
  • Japanese residences have thin walls and poor insulation - don't blast your stereo or television.
  • Don't wear your slippers into a tatami (straw) mat room.
  • It's customary to sit on the floor in a tatami room (called "washitsu")
  • Don't wear your slippers  into the genkan (at the entrance to a home, where the shoes are kept), nor outside.
  • Don't wear the toilet room slippers  outside the toilet room.
  • It's better to wear shoes slipped on easily when visiting someone.
  • Japanese wear kimono or yukatta (light summer kimono) with the left side over the right. The reverse is only for the dead at funerals.
  • It's polite to initially refuse someone's offer of help. Japanese may also initially refuse your offer even if they really want it. Traditionally an offer is made 3 times. It may be better to state you'll carry their bag, call a taxi, etc., instead of pushing them to be polite and refuse.
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I mostly learned these from watching anime, but was also taught in a japanese conversation class:
  • Yatta (I did it!): Use when you accomplished something big, receive a great opportunity or feel victorious.
  • Honto (Really?): Use it to confirm what you've just heard.
  • A, so desu ka? (Oh, I see): Use it every time your conversational provides a new piece of information. Be sure to nod as you say this expression.
  • Mochiron (Of course!): This is the favorite adverb of confident people. Use it when you are confident of your opinion.
  • A, yokatta (Oh, good): Use it every time you feel like saying "What a relief."
  • Zenzen (not at all): Suppose someone asks you, "Am I disturbing you?" when he's not bothering you at all. Say it and shake your head.
  • Doshiyo (What shall I do?): Use it when you are in a panic and have no idea what to do.
  • A, bikkurishita (What a surprise!): Use it when you are very suprised.
  • Yappari (I knew it would happen): Sometimes you have a vague suspicion that something will happen, and then it actually happens.

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What is the better term to be used for Bleach, shinigami or soul reaper?
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