The Unspoken Rule About PDA Tourists Need To Know Before Visiting Japan

If you've started planning your honeymoon in advance and you and your sweetheart are dreaming of walking under the cherry blossom trees or watching monkeys in steamy hot springs in Japan together, you should know public displays of affection are typically frowned upon. In the United States and Europe, kissing at the end of a date, walking around with your arms around your significant other, or cuddling up in the booth at a restaurant are all seen as pretty normal and romantic things to do, but in Japan, it's likely to bother some people.


As a foreigner, you probably won't get told off for a quick peck, but you might get some dirty looks. In Japanese culture, kissing on the street or in front of strangers is considered excessive. In order to be respectful of the people around you, you should probably keep your PDA to a minimum. If you and your partner really can't keep your hands off each other, you can always book an hour or two in a love hotel for a discreet make-out session.

What counts as PDA in Japan?

As romantic as kissing on a crowded street might seem elsewhere, in Japan, kissing in public places is often viewed as gross to the people around you. While cultural norms around this may be changing, with the younger generations generally being seemingly more likely to show physical affection in public, the taboo is still very real. Just like you would be considered rude for tipping in Japan, kissing your partner is probably going to make people uncomfortable.


In on-the-spot interviews with young people on the street in Shibuya on the YouTube channel That Japanese Man Yuta, some expressed that they might consider kissing if there were only a few people around, it was dark enough to provide some privacy, or saying goodbye outside their own home, but most agreed that passionate kisses near other people are unacceptable in Japan. Hugging can be controversial, too. Some may view quick hugs as a respectful public alternative to kissing, but others may still find it to be too much for a crowded public place like a train. In general, holding hands is totally fine. Linking arms might get you some stares in smaller towns, but if you are in a major city you will probably see other couples walking hand in hand, too.


What about gay couples?

If you and your partner are planning to visit Japan or even enjoy a honeymoon there, you may be wondering how you will be received as a same-sex couple. While gay marriage isn't legal in Japan, In 2023, more than 70% of voters surveyed in Japan stated that they thought gay people should be allowed to get married. However, the rules about PDA stay the same — even in major cities like Osaka, it would probably be respectful to stick to hand-holding and avoid kissing in public places, especially trains.


There's no law about it, and there aren't necessarily established regulations like there are about entering onsens with tattoos, but you should resist the urge to cuddle in the hot springs. While you and your partner can definitely go to onsens together, heterosexual couples have to separate or rent a private one; it's a small space where people aren't expecting anything romantic to happen. It's also worth noting that in Japan, it's not uncommon to see young female friends holding hands and linking arms platonically, so if you and your partner are both feminine-presenting, for better or worse people might not realize that you are a couple.