It seems like people in Japan never blow their nose, even though they rather often catch a cold.
People still use tissues to touch their nose or press it a bit, but never while blowing it.

I remember a friend who came to Japan, who then blew his nose with a trumpet-like sound, triggering general hilarity among surrounding people.

Everyday during winter you can see (and hear) people sniffling, it is not rare for co-workers with a cold to sniffle all day, and nobody seems to take offense, but I would rather avoid using that solution in order to stay concentrated on my tasks.

So, how to deal with a runny nose in Japan?

  • What do you mean "deal with"? Do you want to avoid the obnoxious sniffling sound?
    – Blaszard
    Aug 11, 2017 at 9:28
  • @Blaszard: No, my question is about when my own nose is runny. I am asking for socially acceptable solutions besides sniffling.
    – nic
    Aug 14, 2017 at 1:58
  • Well, you could always try to hold your breath all day... that would definitely remove the sniffling
    – Name
    Dec 15, 2017 at 0:18

2 Answers 2


What I did during my trip to Japan (I spent a week there) was to go to the bathroom whenever I had to blow my nose. Ideally, I tried to wait for a time when there were no other people in there. When that didn't seem likely, I used flushing to mask the sound.

When going to the bathroom was not an option (such as on a street), I would at least try to find a secluded area (side street etc.) and be quick about it. I've never noticed anyone visibly reacting to me.

In my case, a slightly running nose is pretty much a chronic condition (allergies etc.). However, for acute colds, I would definitely suggest applying nasal drops or other anti-congestant and "nose-drying" medicine for the time you will spend among others.


Generally, it is OK to simply blow your nose in Japan.

Japanese people don't blow their nose because they (especially most men) usually don't carry tissues, and because they can't throw away the tissues readily since there is practically no trash bin available in public.

But I just googled it and got pretty surprised to see that some people consider it unpleasant to blow their nose in front of others. It is ridiculous, as keep making an obnoxious noise by constantly sniffling is definitely more unpleasant!

But it seems the divided opinion. I would rather like to see the poll by region, gender, and generation...

Your friend got the hilarity because of the "trumpet-like" sound; hilarity is never close to hostility, so don't mind it.

If you care about these naggers, it might be wise to go to a bathroom and blow your nose there. But I believe it goes too far and you don't need to. I also frequently see people blow their nose, especially middle-aged and elderly men but no one around them minds it!

(But for some reasons I have rarely seen women do, and in fact the google search got me to know some naysayers dislike the blowing nose only if they are women. Ridiculous...)

And some people seem to hate only when they blow their nose while eating, so you shall refrain at the dining if you care about these people.


There seems to be no poll on the web, but one website asked its readers which of sniffling and blowing is more unpleasant. Note that this website is strictly designed for wives, and over 80% readers are between 30 to 49, I guess.

  • sniffling is more unpleasant: 41 votes
  • blowing is more unpleasant: 7 votes

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