Those of you familiar with our Japanese site are probably aware that our reporters often travel overseas to bring interesting stories from around the world to our Japanese readers. Recently, one reporter shared with us an eye-opening realization he had while traveling, one that could have serious bearing on the reputation of Japanese tourists abroad.

Being Japanese and also very fond of traveling myself, this was a story I couldn’t take lightly!

During a recent trip, our reporter was surprised to hear a local tour guide comment that Japanese tourists have bad manners. Now, Japanese people in general tend to place a huge emphasis on trying to be polite to others, so this was a bit unexpected.

When our reporter listened further to what the tour guide had to say, it became clear that the problem had to do with the behavior of Japanese tourists when taking pictures. Of course, this probably doesn’t apply to all Japanese tourists, but we wanted to know what we Japanese seemed to be doing wrong, as it’s always a good idea to try to leave as good an impression as possible when you’re traveling,

So, what should Japanese travelers be careful of when taking pictures? According to what our reporter was told, it appears many Japanese tourist take pictures without asking permission. Perhaps it just never crosses their mind that they should ask, or maybe the foreign language makes it difficult for them to communicate (and Japanese people can be shy with strangers to begin with), but I guess we can understand how it may be upsetting to have someone suddenly take a picture of you or your house or shop without saying anything.

Our reporter recalls when he was in Morocco and wanted to take pictures of interesting merchandise at the local market. He found and negotiated with a store owner who would let him spend some time taking photos in his shop. At that time, the store owner had said, “I don’t mind letting people take pictures of the merchandise for free, even if they don’t buy anything, but it is unpleasant when people take pictures without saying anything. If they would just ask, ‘I know I’m not buying anything, but is it okay if I take some pictures?’ I would feel so much happier.”

Our reporter also recalls a veteran Japanese tour guide he met abroad who told him, “Some people, Japanese tourists included, say that Chinese tourists have bad manners, but when it comes to taking pictures, I think the Japanese are just as ill-mannered as the Chinese. The behavior of Japanese tourists definitely has gotten worse in recent years.”

It’s true that with high quality cameras and smart phones more readily available than ever, it’s now easier for everyone and anyone to be an amateur photographer, and be pretty good at it too. But perhaps our manners haven’t quite kept up with the technology that has made photography so accessible. Yes, sometimes you can get excited about a photo opportunity, especially when you’re in a foreign land, but no doubt it’s a good idea to take a breath and ask, “Is it all right if I take some pictures?” before you start snapping away. There’s no reason not to, if something so simple can keep everyone happy.

So the next time you travel, we hope you remember to take your manners with you along with your camera (I know I certainly will be more careful in the future), and have a safe and happy trip!

Original Article Edited by: Food Queen Sato
[ Read in Japanese ]