Spotlight on Japan: Professional Dos and Don’ts
When going on a business trip to Japan, it is essential to research how the Japanese actually conduct business. Japan is incredibly warm and friendly to foreign visitors, but their culture is unique and there are quite a few rules to follow. If you want to build a strong rapport with your Japanese business partners, read through a few of our do’s and don’ts before you go.
DO bring a gift from your country.
It’s a good idea to bring a small gift from your home country. While it may seem forward, gift giving is considered more like a ritual between business partners and is seen as polite.
DO give and receive business cards with both hands
You need to give and receive business cards with both hands, even if it seems needlessly complicated. Handling a business card in the wrong way is a direct insult to the other person.
DO bring Japanese Yen
It may be surprising for a technological giant like Japan, but a cashless society is far in the future for the Japanese. Although the rate of card payments is increasing, around 60% of payments in Japan are made in cash (compared to only around 25% in the UK).
DON’T confuse YES with agreement
Often in Japanese conversations, the element of aizuchi (相槌), literally: brief response, comes into play. The Japanese will say things like, ‘yes,’ ‘indeed,’ or ‘really?’ to show that they are listening. If you weren’t aware, you might be surprised to find that what you thought was an agreement turned out to be the opposite!
DON’T be late for an appointment
The Japanese are extremely punctual. Lateness leaves a very bad impression in Japan, and if you find yourself running late, notify the person you are meeting as soon as possible.
DON’T blow your nose in public
When eating noodles in Japan, you’re meant to slurp as loudly as possible, as it shows that you are enjoying a dish. However, blowing your nose in public may offend locals.