On being a germaphobe: Why is this a term? To be aware of what can get you sick and staying safe rather than sorry shouldn't be shunned.
Pneumonia and influenza are leading causes of death, which start off as the flu virus or cold.
Figuring this out at a young age, I passionately hated one thing people did:
Shaking hands is an easy way to pass germs. Even if you wash your hands and have a cold, you can still give it to someone else.
Yet it's popular among English speaking cultures. I've heard many theories on how this happened. My favorite one is during wartime a soldier would use their sword hand to shake the hand of a foe to show they wanted to call a truce. So you're telling someone you're friends.
I thought upon moving to Japan people would finally stop trying to shake my hand. Refusing makes me seem like the jerk, not the handshaker for wanting to pass their germs onto me.
Come on though. Shouldn't we evolve?
The strange part: Since living here more people have wanted to shake my hand now than ever before. It's mostly locals, too. Oddly, they mostly shake hands with foreigners rather than each other.
After some investigation, one reason was: There's this nationwide assumption foreigners like to shake hands. When Japanese people are young, a teacher tells them something like, "When you say hello and goodbye to a foreigner, reach your palm to them, squeeze theirs, and move it up and down. This is called a 'handshake.' All westerners do it as a rule. If you forget, they will think you're rude."
Worst part is the majority of locals don't wash their hands before they eat. Instead they use a wet napkin or towel, which just soaks up and spreads germs around their hands. Then take into account a huge number of people don't wash their hands after using the restroom. There isn't even soap in several public toilet centers.
By the way, I told some local friends who assumed foreigners liked shaking hands: "No, not every foreigner wants to shake your hand. You shouldn't offer unless they offer. It's actually rude to assume someone likes something just because they're from a different country. It's like me assuming you enjoy eating sushi and watching sumo during your free time."
After telling a lot of people this, I got tired of explaining and just started shaking hands again to avoid seeming impolite and would wash my hands soon after.
Then a sick friend shook my hand. Low-and-behold I caught their cold. I got better, but it inspired me to plea to everyone out there to stop the insanity.
If you stop shaking hands and tell others to stop and mention it's an easy way to avoid spreading sickness, we can all live happier, healthier lives. So, please stop shaking hands.
Try a bow.
Here's more info
Skip the Handshake