Japan by liwenting


									                        Professional Travel and Cultural Competence


Tips on Greeting
    The oldest person in a group is always revered and honored. In a social situation, he/she
       will be served first and drinks will be poured for them.
    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.
    Regardless of sex or marital status, the Japanese typically address a person by last their
       name, while using “san”, a suffix showing honor. Never use this suffix when referring to
       your own name. When refering to professors, doctors, lawyers and other professionals
       using “sensei” rather than “san.” It’s rarely wrong to be too polite. “Sensei” is more
       polite than “san”.
    The Japanese consider corporate titles and ranks extremely important. They address top
       senior executives by title instead of last name. For example, people address Yohei
       Mijoshi, company president, as Shacho-san (Mr. President), not Mr. Mijoshi or Mijoshi-

Business Cards
    Business cards are exchanged constantly and with great ceremony.
    Invest in quality cards. Always keep your business cards in pristine condition.
    Treat the business card you receive as you would the person.
    If feasible, it is wise to have one side of your business card translated into Japanese. You
       may be given a business card that is only in Japanese.
    Business cards are given and received with two hands and a slight bow.
    Give your business card with the Japanese side facing the recipient.
    Make sure your business card includes your title, so your Japanese colleagues know your
       status within your organization.
    Examine any business card you receive very carefully.
    During a meeting, place the business cards on the table in front of you in the order people
       are seated. When the meeting is over, put the business cards in a business card case or a
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.
     The gift need not be expensive. Appropriate gifts during an initial business trip include
       mementos from your home region or impersonal products bearing your
       university/company logo (photo book, pen set, etc). Gifts produced in the U.S.A are
       preferable, and items unique to the location are very much appreciated.
     Good quality chocolates or small cakes are good ideas. Popular items that Japanese
       people take back as souvenirs when traveling abroad are regional foods (macadamia nuts
       from Hawaii, beef jerky from the Midwest, Frango Mint chocolates from Chicago, etc.) If
       the present is going to a group, it should be something that all can share: food items that
       come in small pieces (chocolates, individually wrapped small cakes) or an item that can
       be displayed (painting/print, book).
     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
     Give items in odd numbers, but not 9.

    Acceptable topics
          o Weather
          o Food
          o Family
          o Hobbies
          o Home regions (yours or theirs)
          o Your host’s hospitality (praise it often)
          o Sports (particularly golf and baseball)
    Unacceptable topics
          o Appearance
          o Ethnic minorities
          o Religion
          o Personal compliments
          o Korea
          o World War II
          o World history
          o Work

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.

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       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 know you time is
        crucial to laying the foundation for a successful relationship.
       Never refuse a request, no matter how difficult or non- profitable it may appear. The
        Japanese are looking for a long-term relationship.
       Always give a small gift, as a token of your esteem, and present it to the most senior
        person at the end of the meeting. Your Japanese contact can advise you on where to find
        something appropriate.
       Always provide a package of literature about your company including articles and client
       They have a difficult time saying 'no', so you must be vigilant at observing their non-
        verbal communication.
       It is best to phrase questions so that they can answer “yes.” For example, do you disagree
        with this? Group decision-making and consensus are important.
       The Japanese often remain silent for long periods of time. Be patient and try to work out
        if your Japanese colleagues have understood what was said.
       Some Japanese close their eyes when they want to listen intently.
       The Japanese do not see contracts as final agreements so they can be renegotiated.

Japanese Non-Verbal Communication
    Upon meeting, people may fall silent for several seconds. The silence is normal; don’t
       interrupt it.
    Nodding is important! When listening to someone, especially in English, nod to show
       you understand the speaker.
    They often trust non-verbal messages more than the spoken word as words can have
       several meanings.
    Expressions to watch out for include inhaling through clenched teeth, tilting the head,
       scratching the back of the head, and scratching the eyebrow.
    Non-verbal communication is so vital that there is a book for 'gaijins' (foreigners) on how
       to interpret the signs!
    It is considered disrespectful to stare into another person's eyes, particularly those of a
       person who is senior to you because of age or status.
    Frowning while someone is speaking is interpreted as a sign of disagreement.
    The context in which something is said affects the meaning of the words. Therefore, it is
       imperative to understand the situation to fully appreciate the response.
    Sit up with both feet on the floor. Never rest your ankle on your knee.
    If you buy the gift in Japan, have it wrapped. Pastel colors are the best choices for
       wrapping paper.
    Gifts are not opened when received.

    The Japanese often drink to excess, and drunkenness is generally accepted. Never
       criticize anyone who’s drunk.
    Never decline a drink. If you must, sip or pretend to drink it. If you don’t drink or don’t
       want to drink, it’s acceptable to say that you’re allergic to alcohol. But you have to be
       consistent! You can’t be allergic one day and not another. Another trick is to drink iced
       oolong tea—it looks just like whisky.
    Never pour your own drink and always pour others’ drinks.

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       Your drink will always be refilled, even if you just take a sip. So if you don’t want any
        more, don’t drink at all once your glass has been filled.
       Toasting: Kanpai (KAHN-pie) “means bottoms up.”
       Here’s how to give a toast:
           o Raise your glass in front of you
           o Make eye contact with everyone near you
           o Shout “Kanpai!” then drink.

Dining Etiquette
    Wait to be told where to sit. There is a protocol to be followed.
    The honored guest or the eldest person will be seated in the centre of the table the furthest
       from the door. The honored guest or the eldest is the first person to begin eating.
    It’s considered polite to slurp your noodles.
    Soups accompany meals. Never finish your soup before eating other dishes. When
       finished eating, replace soup bowl lid.
    It will yield tremendous dividends if you learn to use chopsticks.
    Do not pierce your food with chopsticks. Never point your chopsticks.
    Chopsticks should be returned to the chopstick rest after every few bites and when you
       drink or stop to speak. Do not cross your chopsticks when putting them on the chopstick
       rest. Do not stick your chopsticks in the rice and leave them standing there.
    Place bones on the side of your plate.
    Try a little bit of everything. It is acceptable to ask what something is and even to make a
       face if you do not like the taste.
    If you leave the table, bend at the waste to keep your head and shoulders slightly lower
       than those seated until you’re out of everyone’s line of sight.
    Mixing other food with rice is usually not done (only in “rice bowl” styles of food). You
       eat a bit of one and then a bit of the other, but they should never be mixed together as you
       do in many Western countries.
    Do not put soy sauce on your rice! This is an insult—you’re saying the rice is no good.
    If you do not want anything more to drink, do not finish what is in your glass. An empty
       glass is an invitation for someone to serve you more.
    If you leave a small amount of rice in your bowl, you may be given more. To signify that
       you do not want more rice, finish every grain in your bowl. It is acceptable to leave a
       small amount of food on your plate when you have finished eating.
    When you have finished eating, place your chopsticks on the chopstick rest or on the
       table. Do not place your chopsticks across the top of your bowl.
    Conversation at the table is generally subdued. The Japanese like to savor their food.
    After a meal, say to your host “gochisosamadeshita” (go-CHEE-so-sah-mah-DESH-tah),
       which means “the dishes were delicious and enjoyed.”

    On the rare occasion you are invited to a Japanese house:
           o Remove your shoes before entering and put on the slippers left at the doorway.
           o Leave your shoes pointing away from the doorway you are about to walk
           o Arrive on time or no more than 5 minutes late if invited for dinner.
           o Unless you have been told the event is casual, dress as if you were going into the
           o If you must go to the toilet, put on the toilet slippers and remove them when you
               are finished.

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Dress Etiquette
    Business attire is conservative.
    Men should wear dark-colored, conservative business suits.
    Women should dress conservatively.

Internet Resources
Kwintessential Cross Cultural Solutions

CIA Fact Book

Tourism Information


Norbury, Paul. 2006. Japan - Culture Smart!: A quick guide to customs and etiquette. Kuperard.

Bosrock, Mary Murray. 2007. Asian Business Customs & Manners. Meadowbrook Press.

Morrison, Terri and Conway, Wayne. 2006. Kiss, Bow, or Shakes Hands, Asia: How to Do
Business in 12 Asian Countries. Adams Media Corporation.

For health and safety tips, visit:
U.S. Department of State: Info on Japan

McKinley Immunization and Travel Clinic

Travel Regulations (OBFS)

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