JCI Kowloon E-Dialogue – 2023 Issue 20

Japanese Business Etiquette

Bowing is a form of non-verbal communication and is used to greet, show appreciation, apologize, or express respect. The depth and duration of the bow can vary depending on the situation and the relationship between the individuals involved. Generally, a slight nod of the head is considered a casual and informal bow, while a deeper bow from the waist is more formal and respectful.

when the junior bow to the senior, bending from the waist to an angle of between 30 and 45 degrees from vertical. Men keep their arms by their sides and women may cross their hands or fingers at thigh height.

A less accentuated bow, usually about 15 degrees, is returned as acknowledgment from the more senior person.

It is considered bad manners and aggressive to hold eye contact with someone when you are bowing to them.

When bowing to a group of people or during a formal introduction, it is customary to bow to the most senior or highest-ranking individual first. Then proceed to bow to others in descending order of seniority or rank.

Handshakes are becoming more common in business settings, particularly when dealing with international counterparts.

It is polite to offer a handshake while simultaneously bowing slightly.

Exchanging business cards, known as “meishi,” is an important ritual in Japanese business culture.

While still standing, a slight bow as a form of respect when exchanging is usually performed.

When giving business cards, it is polite to bow slightly and offer the card with both hands, holding it at the top corners facing the recipient.

Receive the card with both hands and take a few seconds to review names and titles, commenting on them if time permits before putting it away respectfully.

If you are sitting down, place it on the table in front of you for the duration of the meeting. If possible, place the most senior counterpart’s card at the top with their subordinates’ below or to the left.

About JCI Kowloon
JCI Kowloon was established in 1965 and is the second most senior chapter among the 21 chapters of Junior Chamber International Hong Kong. We aim to provide development opportunities for young people to learn from the 3 JC paths: Project Management, Chapter Management and Training, so as to create positive changes to themselves and to the community.
Members in JCI Kowloon include entrepreneurs, professionals and executives. Over the years, we have organised and launched a number of impactful projects for the betterment of the community and members. Through the unique platform of learning by doing offered by Junior Chamber International, our members not only grow personally but also expand their business network.


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