Etiquette & Customs in Japan
. Greetings in Japan are very formal and ritualized.
. It is important to show the correct amount of respect and deference to someone based upon their status relative to your own. . If at all possible, wait to be introduced.
. It can be seen as impolite to introduce yourself, even in a large gathering. . While foreigners are expected to shake hands, the traditional form of greeting is the bow. How far you bow depends upon your relationship to the other person as well as the situation. The deeper you bow, the more respect you show. . A foreign visitor ('gaijin') may bow the head slightly, since no one expects foreigners to generally understand the subtle nuances of bowing. Gift Giving Etiquette
. Gift-giving is highly ritualistic and meaningful.
. The ceremony of presenting the gift and the way it is wrapped is as important--sometimes more important--than the gift itself. . Gifts are given for many occasions.
. The gift need not be expensive, but take great care to ask someone who understands the culture to help you decide what type of gift to give. . Good quality chocolates or small cakes are good ideas.
. Do not give lilies, camellias or lotus blossoms as they are associated with funerals. . Do not give white flowers of any kind as they are associated with funerals. . Do not give potted plants as they encourage sickness, although a bonsai tree is always acceptable. . Give items in odd numbers, but not 9.
. If you buy the gift in Japan, have it wrapped.
. Pastel colours are the best choices for wrapping paper.
. Gifts are not opened when received.
On the rare occasion you are invited to a Japanese house:
. Remove your shoes before entering and put on the slippers left at the doorway. . Leave your shoes pointing away from the doorway you are about to walk through. . Arrive on time or no more than 5 minutes late if invited for dinner. . If invited to a large social gathering, arriving a little bit later than the invitation is acceptable, although punctuality is always appreciated. . Unless you have been told the event is casual, dress as if you were going into the office. . If you must go to the toilet, put on the toilet slippers and remove them when you are finished.
Understanding of Foreign Ways
. Japanese understand that it is very difficult for foreigners to work in Japan. . They will not expect you to speak or read Japanese, or be conversant with their strict cultural nuances and protocol. . Mistakes are allowed as long as genuine respect is shown at all times. . They will usually try to help you but often feel embarrassment at their own lack of understanding or English language ability. Relationships & Communication
. The Japanese prefer to do business on the basis of personal relationships. . In general, being introduced or recommended by someone who already has a good relationship with the company is extremely helpful as it allows the Japanese to know how to place you in a hierarchy relative to themselves. . One way to build and maintain relationships is with greetings / seasonal cards. . It is important to be a good correspondent as the Japanese hold this in high esteem. Business Meeting Etiquette
. Appointments are required and, whenever possible, should be made several weeks in advance. . It is best to telephone for an appointment rather than send a letter, fax or email. . Punctuality is important. Arrive on time for meetings and expect your Japanese colleagues will do the same. . Since this is a group society, even if you think you will be meeting one person, be prepared for a group meeting. . The most senior Japanese person will be seated furthest from the door, with the rest of the people in descending rank until the most junior person is seated closest to the door. . It may take several meetings for your Japanese counterparts to become comfortable with you and be able to conduct business with you. . This initial getting to...
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