Is it Rude To Stare in Asian Culture?

In Asian culture, many of the basic rules of etiquette are vastly different than the rules we are used to in Western society. 

For example, tipping is considered rude and sometimes aggressive, in Asian culture.

But, what about making eye contact? Or should you strictly look at your feet?

Further, is it rude to stare in Asian culture? Read on below and find out for yourself!

Is it Rude To Stare in Asian Culture?

Making eye contact in Asian Culture is not rude. What is rude is staring.

When you make eye contact with folks in Asian countries, it is polite to break eye contact shortly after making it.

To stare for a long period of time is considered rude and uncalled for. In some Asian cultures, like Japan, eye contact longer than a second or two is often considered a hard (and rude) stare.

How Rude Is it?


On the rude meter’s scale of 1 to 10, staring in Asian culture rates 9

The cultures of Asia are more often than not much more disciplined and strict than Western cultures. 

For example, if you hold eye contact for more than a second, it is considered staring… which is rude.

It is better to walk around looking at people’s shoes than it is to walk around looking at people’s faces (in Asia).

Why is it Rude?

In Asian culture, staring is like slapping someone. There are very few times that openly staring at someone in Asia is socially acceptable.

In fact, in most Asian cultures, looking directly at someone for more than a brief moment when your eyes meet is considered highly rude.

The bottom line? Break eye contact almost as soon as you make it, or risk being considered rude by locals.

Common Questions

What is rude to Asians?

One of the rudest things you can do in any Asian country is an attempt to publicly humiliate or shame someone. 

Whether it is by pointing them out, staring them down, or verbally making fun of them in front of others, if you shame someone, you’ve done the worst offense aside from attacking them physically.

Another significant action found to be extremely rude in Asia is staring at people. 

If you don’t look away directly after making eye contact, you are staring and it’s rude.

What is rude in China?

Making eye contact in China means you are directly challenging someone, asking them to get angry. 

That means, when you make eye contact and smile at someone, in China, they will think you are a great big jerk, not a polite traveler, and are looking for a fight. 

Other Asian countries view prolonged eye contact in a very similar way (though not as extreme). 

What is rude in Japan?

In Japan, there are many seemingly strange things considered rude, that we do frequently in the west. 

For example, walking and eating at the same time is rude, as is making eye contact with someone for more than half a second or so. 

Tipping is rude in Japan as well as making phone calls on public transit, and greeting people with a hug or kiss.