Photo/IllutrationThe English team for the 2019 Rugby World Cup attends a ceremonial event at the Miyazaki prefectural government office on Sept. 16. (Kento Takahashi)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

LONDON--Avoid creating awkward situations in Japan by hugging or singing on the streets. Oh, and try not to get arrested for smuggling nasal spray.

These pieces of advice from the British Foreign Office are part of a humorous video series aimed at rugby fans planning to travel to Japan to attend the Rugby World Cup, which starts on Sept. 20.

Four teams from the British Isles will take part: England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

To prevent fans from annoying the locals or getting on the wrong side of the law, the Foreign Office made a series of funny videos, collectively titled, “Going to Japan for the rugby?” and starring Britain-based Japanese comedienne Yuriko Kotani.

The six one-minute videos each answer one of these specific questions: Should I hug, bow or shake hands in Japan? Are tattoos popular in Japan? Can I use my credit card in Japan? Can I bring my medicines to Japan? Do people sing and dance in public in Japan? Do people do drugs in Japan?

The public-service videos start with suspenseful sound effects, and Kotani shares her own awkward experiences living in the two cultures.

She then gives advice to the often boisterous British rugby fans who may be ignorant of laws and customs in Japan.

Some popular things that seem normal in the British Isles, such as giving casual hugs and wearing tattoos, are not widely accepted in Japan and may well lead to very awkward situations, Kotani points out.

On one particularly confusing subject, Kotani explains that some over-the-counter medicines available at British pharmacies are illegal to take to Japan, such as codeine and Vicks inhalers.

“In Japan, we get dosed-up on a thing called: Strong willpower,” the comedienne says.

“Also, we have pharmacies. But please, please, please don’t get arrested or get deported for smuggling nasal spray,” she adds.

Regarding tattoos, Kotani says: “In Japan, nowadays, it’s quite Westernized. However, traditionally, (tattoos are) associated with organized crime, yakuza. So if you go to a public bath or hot springs, they might tell you that you cannot come in if you have tattoos.”

Each segment ends with a note. Some are inspirational, like, “Think global, respect local.” But others are funny, like, “Sing in a karaoke bar, not in the street,” which was written with overjoyed and rowdy fans in mind.

According to the Foreign Office’s estimates as of August, more than 50,000 people will travel to Japan from Britain for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, the first to be held in Asia.

The tournament will continue for about a month and a half, with the final game scheduled for Nov. 2.

All four teams from the British Isles are strong contenders and are expected to advance to the final round, meaning that their fans will likely enjoy a prolonged stay in Japan.

That may not be necessarily the best news for the Foreign Office, which had to help more than 20,000 Britons who got in trouble abroad in the past year.

As a pre-emptive measure, the officials decided to produce the videos that have been uploaded on YouTube.

The videos can be viewed here: