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Basic Etiquette to get unscathed while visiting Japan

Japan is a place full of traditions and etiquettes but also a modern country nowadays, don't be afraid to make a fool of yourself, just be friendly and polite when you don't know how to act in certain situations.
 
 
 
Basic Etiquette
 
1)Meeting someone for the first time?
 
Bow while saying -''Hello, nice to meet you!'' (Hajimemashite)
Some japanese knowing you're a foreigner may offer a hand to shake if not don't offer yours, Japanese people are not very fond of body contact with strangers.
 
2)Eye contact
 
Don't stare at them create an imaginary square above the person's shoulder along his/her face and look at it, if you're meeting someone in a higher position.
 
3)If you're invited to enter a house
 
It is polite to say ''Excuse me I'm going inside'': (Ojyamashimasu), before you walk in and say ''Thank you for having me in'' : (Ojyamashimashita), when you leave.
Take off your shoes, before steping inside make sure you leave your shoes in a position prepared for when you leave and not in the middle of the entrance(genkan), and change into slippers usually provided by the host, be aware not to step on Tatami floor wearing slippers you must take it off, if you enter such a room.
 
4)Giving Gifts: (Omiyage)
 
Japanese have the tradition to bring presents when visiting each other, so remember to bring a souvenir that represents well your hometown to present your host you will meet through business trips.
Gifts are given and received with both hands, don't be surprised if you receive something too, if the present is wrapped, only open it after you leave, don't open in front of the person, if the present isn't wrapped look at it and show how much you apreciated the present.
 
5)Eating or Dining out with a Japanese
 
If you're invited to dine out or for a drink don't expect to be sharing the bill the one who invites pays, that apply if you're the inviter.
When drinking in a public place don't fill your own glass wait for your host to serve you and do the same for your host never let his/her glass go empty, if you're drinking alcohol, try to drink by taking small sips not to finish very fast and make it two glasses maximum.
Before starting to eat is polite to say ''How grateful you are for the food'': (Itadakimasu)
And when you're finished to say ''I've had enough'': (Gochisousama deshita)
Wait for your host to start to eat first, just start to eat first if the host insists you to do so.
Eating with Chopsticks are not so easy for first timers, hold your chopsticks toward their ends, not in the middle.
When serving yourself food from a communal dish, turn the chopsticks upside down using the part that hasn't been in your mouth to put the food in your plate and one should never give food from chopstick to chopstick, this is only done with the bones of the cremated body at funerals.
After you've finished eating align your chopsticks with the tip to the left before your plate in front of you.
Never play with the chopsticks and do not stick your chopstick vertically in your rice bowl, this is taken as an insult, since this is only stored this way while in a Japanese funeral, like incense sticked vertically in respect to the deceased.
 
 
Business Meeting Etiquette
 
1)Casual American style still uncommon for business, dress up appropriately for the meeting.
 
2)Women should not wear trousers, the best is to wear a dark colored skirt down to your knees while attending a meeting, Japanese bosses don't like if the woman walks side by side the woman has to walk a few steps behind him(Japan still a male dominated world)*sigh*
 
3)Remember to take a souvenir and enough business cards for everyone so you won't run out of cards, Japanese exchange cards a lot, when handing and receiving business cards always use both hands, never sholve the business card you've received in your back trouser pocket, if your standing while exchanging cards(best way to exchange them), after reading it carefully place it in your shirt pocket or in your wallet.
If you're seated while exchanging cards place the card gently on the table in front of you, if you receive many cards place them all together aligning neatly and don't forget to pick them all up before leaving, I've seen many business men forget to take the cards with them it's an insult.
 
4)Wait to be seated in a meeting table all places are marked, after your host show where you'll be seated, wait until he tells you to seat down, the bosses have to seat first and are the first to stand up when the meeting is over, wait for your host to stand up before you do.
 
5)Taking notes in a meeting shows how interested you are about the business you're making.
 
6)Sometimes business are not concretized in a meeting room some Japanese business man like to close the deal after they take you out to dinner or to a high class drinking bar, so be a sport about any kind of invitation to go out before or after the meeting is held.
 
 
And remember bowing and polite actions are always welcome if you forget what to do.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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