This guide introduces the basic etiquette and customs in Okinawa you are advised to know before your trip. Please check them before departure so that you can travel comfortably just like a local.
Walking the streets
- In Okinawa, litter should not be dropped on the street. It should be separated into cans, bottles, burnable and non-burnable garbage.
- Do not spit on the road, or drop used chewing gum.
- Okinawans generally talk quietly in public places, on buses and the monorail.
- Smoking is prohibited in many places. Please smoke in designated smoking areas. Smoking on the street is prohibited in Kokusui Street and Okiei Street in Naha City. Violation may lead to fines.
- It’s unusual to go shirtless in Okinawa. Wearing swimwear and going shirtless except at the beach is frowned upon.
- When eating buffet-style, avoid leaving food uneaten. You may be charged extra if you leave food uneaten. Also, do not take drinks and edibles away with you.
- Please do not bring your own food and beverages. The table is strictly reserved for orders from the menu. Fruit peelings, fish bones and other waste should be left on your plate and not dropped on the floor.
- Some restaurants serve water and provide small towels for cleaning your hands. They’re free of charge and you can ask for more. However, you can’t take them away with you.
- Many izakaya restaurants serve a small dish of food that you haven’t ordered. This is an appetizer, and it’s included in the table charge. About 200 to 500 yen is added to the bill for this. This depends on the restaurant. If it bothers you, ask when you enter a restaurant.
- You may be asked to take off your shoes before entering a building, or to change to indoor slippers.
- There is no need to pay tips when shopping, at bars and restaurants, in hotels or taxis. Just saying “Arigato” is enough.
- Japanese toilets are eitherwestern-style sitting toilets or Japanese-style squat toilets. Bear in mind the next person to use the toilet, and use it properly.