Japanese are generally some of the friendliest, most polite people in the world. Navigating their minefield of serious social faux pas, however, is an exercise fraught with potential pratfalls. Follow these tips to help avoid some of the most common breaches of etiquette.

Chopsticks: There are two guiding principles to using chopsticks. First, never leave them stuck into a bowl of rice (or other plate of food), and do not attempt to pass food from your chopsticks to someone else’s—both practices are associated with death. Second, treat your chopsticks as eating utensils only; in other words, don’t wave them, point with them, play with them, or otherwise do anything but eat with them.

Business Cards: When passing your business card, do so with two hands; when receiving a card, accept it with two hands, and take a moment to thoughtfully inspect both sides of the card before putting it away.

Gifts: Japanese go to great lengths to provide appropriate gifts for friends, family, and business associates, though it’s the gesture (and the packaging) that count more than the actual item. If you know there’ll be an opportunity to give a gift—a business meeting or dinner party, for example—bring a small but thoughtful item along, ideally from your home country, and ensure it’s nicely wrapped or in a decorative bag. Present (and accept) gifts with two hands.

Bowing: Bowing is an art form in Japan, and the manner in which it’s done varies greatly. For visitors, a brief bow when greeting, thanking, and bidding someone farewell is sufficient.

Drinking: Do not refill your own glass—allow others to do so—but do refill others’ glasses.

Tipping: Tipping is not customary in Japan and unnecessary.