Learn more about Amy Chavez and the small island in Japan's Inland Sea where she lives, as well as why and how she compiled the advice for her new book Amy's Guide to Best Behavior in Japan: Do it Right and Be Polite!
JT:"You’ve published the books "Running the Shikoku Pilgrimage: 900 Miles to Enlightenment” and “Japan, Funny Side Up.” This time, for "Amy’s Guide to Best Behavior in Japan," what convinced you to write a book on etiquette in Japan?
AC: This book is basically a response to all the people complaining about bad tourist manners. Everyday in the Japanese and foreign media here you read about poor tourist behavior and frankly, I'm afraid there's going to be a backlash — like locals not wanting foreigners in their establishments. Also, I was afraid that many tourists were actually going to take advantage of the kind Japanese and their omotenashi (hospitality).
That said, whether it's the “Ugly American” in Europe, the “Party Going Australian” in Bali or the “Pushy Chinese” in Japan, it’s my belief that people don't mean to be rude — they just don't know any better.
A lot of research went into it asking experts — like tourism boards, those who manage ryokan and restaurants, the Ogasawara School of Etiquette (to name a few) — and Japanese locals alike. Not everyone agrees with everything in the book, but we tried to find a happy medium that most Japanese people would agree on and that most tourists could comply with. No one is telling people they have to follow everything in the book. It's just telling them what the standard is for Japanese people."