How to put your best foot forward when stepping into a Japanese tatami room

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Only a few centuries ago, good manners sometimes meant the difference between life and death. Back in the Edo Period (1603-1868), even lower-ranking samurai had the right of 切捨御免 (kirisute gomen), which translates as “permission to kill commoners for perceived affronts.”

These days, being 礼儀正しい (reigi tadashii, well-mannered) isn’t quite so vital, but it is still taken for granted that マナーは人柄を映す(manā wa hitogara o utsusu, a person’s manners reflect their character). Unfortunately for me, my manners are still calibrated to “American.”

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