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  • Some people think Japan is a strange and different land, that they'll never understand.

  • Why do the Japanese do what they do?

  • Well, Japan and its people are not so hard to comprehend,

  • once you realize that it's all about the rules.

  • Once you know them, your time here will be easy peasy, Japaneasy.

  • And I'm going to break a rule of my own,

  • which is that every shot should be there because it helps tell the story.

  • These shots...

  • I just had a bunch of sweet night time shots and I didn't want them to go to waste.

  • Anyways...

  • It'd be my pleasure if you join me in discovering the rules that rule Japan.

  • Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of rules, both written and unwritten.

  • But don't fret, that's why I made this video.

  • And to ease you in, let's start with a very simple one:

  • what side of the street to walk on.

  • And it couldn't be easier, it's just like driving.

  • Drive on the left, pass on the right.

  • To the 35% of the world, especially those hailing from the former British empire,

  • this will make complete sense.

  • To the other 65%, well,

  • focus on what you think is the right way to do it,

  • and do the complete opposite.

  • So when walking, left is right, and right is wrong.

  • Tsk... that's a bit confusing.

  • Left is good, right is bad?

  • Ahhh... just... if you're playing chicken with some oba-san,

  • veer left and you should avoid a direct confrontation.

  • And this basic rules flows to non-street situations as well.

  • Like take escalators.

  • Sticking left will always work.

  • Except if you're in Osaka,

  • because they do it the other way just to be different.

  • We'll leave them out of it.

  • In Tokyo, which, come on people, is Japan, people stick to the left.

  • See.

  • Well, this is a special situation, where they probably had building constraints

  • where they had to switch sides, so in this case,

  • left is wrong and right is right.

  • But just the same as driving, stick to the left, pass on the right.

  • There are not always escalators in train stations,

  • so if you have to use the stairs, it's the same thing.

  • Move on over to the left side.

  • Clearly this station put their labels on the wrong sides,

  • and it's quite confusing for the normally very rule abiding Japanese citizens.

  • I played it safe and walked up the middle.

  • It's the only way to be wrong, whichever way was right.

  • Except in this situation,

  • where staying in the middle was the correct move.

  • And when it comes to scrambles, well,

  • it's everyone for themselves.

  • I think the key is to move with confidence.

  • Rules about how and where you move continues at Shinto shrines,

  • where you'll always find a Torii gate.

  • This is the boundary between holy ground and the secular world.

  • When you pass through the gate, you are stepping into the domain of the deity.

  • Proper etiquette is to bow once before entering.

  • Also, the middle is where the deity walks, so stick to the sides.

  • What happens if you walk around the gate?

  • It's uncertain...

  • it's got to be some type of loophole though.

  • Something I also found out, is that if you're at Meiji Jingu

  • and doing your requisite photo or video taking,

  • don't use sankyaku, which literally means three legs,

  • but in this cases means tripod.

  • But by all means, photograph away.

  • What about these elaborate water troughs?

  • The temizuya, is there so that you can perform misogi,

  • which purifies your body and mind.

  • While originally this was done in the nude at places like an ocean or river,

  • now it's enough to only wash your hands and mouth.

  • People just don't follow traditions like they used to.

  • But this is what you do. Clean your left hand,

  • then your right hand, then your mouth using your left hand.

  • Let the water wash the ladle, all in one scoop!

  • I gotta say, clean execution all-around.

  • How about making an offering at the shrine?

  • First you throw in your saisen coin as an offering to the deity.

  • Then ring the bell as a greeting.

  • Bow twice,

  • clap your hands twice and keep them together, then bow once to pray.

  • When it comes to Buddhist temples, well, the rules go out the window.

  • It's not as strict as a Shinto shrine.

  • Except clapping, don't clap.

  • I don't know why, just don't do it.

  • And how do you know if you're at a Shinto shrine or a Buddhist temple?

  • Shrines always have torii gates, while temples don't,

  • except when there's the temples that do.

  • Like the Senso-ji Buddhist temple grounds that has this Shinto shrine within it.

  • So how would the clap rule apply in this situation?

  • If you're at a shrine clapping is good.

  • If you're at a temple, clapping is bad.

  • If you're at a shrine on temple grounds, clapping is...

  • What we can all agree on though, is that this guy is very cute.

  • What you can do at a Buddhist temple is wash yourself with incense smoke.

  • Even your pet can have their body and spirit purified.

  • If smoke flowing over your body is a good thing,

  • then surely smoke being inhaled must be a great thing.

  • I'm certain that's why the Japanese really took to tobacco

  • when Portuguese sailors introduced it in 1543.

  • Because unlike most other developed countries,

  • smoking indoors in Japan is still a common thing.

  • You can also find outdoor temples to smoking all throughout Tokyo.

  • Conscious of the fact that not everyone shares the same religion,

  • there are signs to not openly practice when just walking out and about though.

  • To summarize, smoking while walking is bad,

  • but if you to have to, do it at a designated temple.

  • If you're indoors, then follow the proprietor's religion.

  • You know, I'd like to circle back around to the walking rules.

  • I realized that they're not as easy as the rules for automobiles,

  • because one's a set of rules for people, who are complicated,

  • and the other is a rule for machines, which aren't.

  • Bicycles are machines, so surely the rules for them will also be simple.

  • Roads are for vehicles, so bikes go there.

  • See, the markings say so!

  • Sidewalks are not, so pedestrians go there.

  • And this guys is following the rules, good guy!

  • I have now realized the error in my logic.

  • Cars are not human powered vehicles, so they have to go on the road,

  • but bikes are human powered,

  • so they can go on the sidewalk or the road!

  • In fact, some sidewalks have special markings on them

  • to show where bikes go and where pedestrians go.

  • For example, bikes are on the right, humans on the left.

  • I mean that guy had a kind of machine, so he's allowed in the bike lane.

  • This lady though...

  • woh, she's clearly and brazenly breaking the rules.

  • As are these people.

  • When you're at a crosswalk,

  • there are also clear divisions for pedestrians and cyclists.

  • Not that anyone cares.

  • Obviously, these road painters have figured out

  • that there's no point in having a dedicated bicycle lane and drew over it.

  • While following rules around bicycle riding is not a strong suit of the Japanese people,

  • they do like to follow parking rules.

  • See.

  • No parking sign, no bikes parked.

  • The garbage... I don't know about that.

  • Another sign, yet again, no bikes.

  • Except for over here.

  • And here.

  • And here. Fine, basically everywhere.

  • I have to get myself into the bike towing business.

  • Clearly lots to be had.

  • And that's where the humble traffic cone comes into play.

  • Japanese love their cones.

  • See, this cyclist clearly knows that no matter what rules he breaks,

  • there's no crossing the cone barrier when you're not supposed to.

  • To take advantage of the Japanese person's deference to the cone,

  • you'll even see signs attached to them.

  • But cones aren't only used to manage bikes.

  • Oh no!

  • They're there to enforce rules everywhere.

  • They're there as a message of caution.

  • They're used to tell people not to stand somewhere.

  • They can demark the lines between vending machine users and non-vending machine users.

  • And yeah, you also see them used in construction, which there's always a lot of.

  • At night they can even light up!

  • So pretty.

  • So cones are clearly what rules it all in Japan.

  • I mean...

  • these cones are in the middle of the park between two trees and nothing else,

  • but you can bet your bottom dollar that I didn't go near there,

  • nor did I see any Japanese people come within spitting distance.

  • Here's another easy rule to follow.

  • If you see a line, get in it.

  • Especially if it appears near somewhere that has food.

  • Because it has to be good, right?

  • Except for me, my rule is to avoid food lines with a ten foot pole...

  • except when my kids don't.

  • But standing in line is a good idea when waiting for a train.