Akimahen: the guide to good manners in Kyoto 京都のあきまへん
The Akimahen guide of rules to follow in Kyoto
A geisha in a Kyoto temple.
Taxi doors in japan open automatically
Credit: David Hall
People lining up to take the bus
La Kayaki house in Tokyo, one of our rental houses with a traditional tatami room
Torii of Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto.
The famous Shinkansen, Japanese bullet train
Always follow the signs in Japan
Credit: 鶴 野 紘 之
Dry garden of Ryoanji temple.
When in Kyoto...
In Kyoto, there are rules to be respected. The city publishes a guide to good behavior for travelers on its website, a mixture of common sense and explanations of Japanese culture. It contains tips for avoiding trouble or embarrassmenr in the old imperial capital, and all over Japan.
"Akimahen!" In kansai-ben (Kansai dialect), means "Forbidden!" This is the title of the document that the Kyoto City Council publishes for travelers who visit the city and who may not understand much about the customs of Japan. The subtitle, "Kyoto-ites are pretty fastidious!" sets the tone. Inside, there is a set of 19 polite tips and other rules that should be followed. Here they are:
- Do NOT bother the maiko
Read also: What is a geisha?
- Let the door of a taxi open by itself
- Line up in a row
- Do NOT touch old buildings or objects
Rules of etiquette
- Say "okini" rather than giving a tip
Read also: Japanese table manners
- Take off your shoes before entering
- Do NOT bring your own food to a restaurant
- Do NOT cancel a reservation at the last minute
- Give up your seat on public transport
- Keep toilets clean
- Leave room when walking in the street
Respect in temples and shrines
- Stay silent and respectful
Treat these places of spirituality with calm and respect, especially for religious personnel.
- Remove your cap and sunglasses
- Do NOT take pictures when it's clearly forbidden
In some parts of temples and shrines, it is forbidden to take pictures or use the flash of your device, so please respect this rule.
For your safety
- Do NOT take pictures near the rails
- Do NOT smoke outdoors
- Do NOT leave your bike on the street
- Do NOT throw your garbage anywhere
- Do NOT ride your bike while drunk
Finally, learn this phrase: "Gou ni ireba, gou ni shitagae", the Japanese equivalent of "When in Rome, do as the Romans do"!