Things to Remember When You’re Fitting Clothes in Japan
Read up on Japanese fitting room etiquette.
Japan is known for world-class hospitality, and this extends to every service establishment you go to—restaurants, hotels, hairdressers, even clothing stores! Fitting rooms in Japan have a very specific etiquette to ensure that every customer gets the same experience every time. While it may confuse you at first, these things that you commonly find in and around fitting rooms in Japan actually make a lot of sense.
Depending on the clothing store, a sales clerk nearby will lead you to the fitting rooms, but when you are not sure where to go, look for the shichaku-shitsu (fitting room). However, sales clerks in Japan respect the customers’ privacy, and will not attempt to talk to you unless you ask them a question. Take note that some fitting rooms in Japan have a maximum limit of items that you get to try on at a time.
In popular stores, it can get crowded—so much so that there is a line to the fitting rooms. Some stores even give out number stubs so you can continue looking through the items while waiting for them to call out your number.
Once you enter the fitting room area though, here is what to expect:
Before You Enter
Sometimes, outside the fitting room you will see shoehorns that indicate that you need to remove your shoes before going inside the room. At times, you will see a different flooring (carpet or wood for example), where you need to place your shoes when you remove them. This ensures that the floor of the fitting room is clean and therefore the clothes themselves—especially long pants and skirts—will remain clean. Of course, make sure to put your shoes back on as soon as you leave the fitting room.
When You Enter
How many times have you wanted to try a crew-neck shirt, only to have makeup or hair wax smeared on the neckline by the person who tried the clothes on before you? In Japan, they offer face covers (sometimes even those that cover you until your neck) to prevent that from happening. Use these face covers when trying on clothes to avoid making it dirty. It can be a bit claustrophobic at first, but relax, it is made of breathable fabric. These things are disposable, so make sure that you throw them away after use.
When You’re Done
When you have finished trying on the clothes, make sure to leave the fitting room empty as you found it. If you are not going to buy the clothes, return them to the sales clerk, or on the hangers (if there are no sales clerks around) right outside the fitting area. Do not return them to the original place, as the sales clerks will rearrange them anyway. This way, the next customer to try on the clothes will get them off the hanger good as new.
Follow these etiquette rules in fitting rooms in Japan, and you know that the next customer after you will have the same great shopping experience, too.
(4 July 2019)