Thursday, 13 October 2011

Japanese Etiquette

Many teachers get overly worried about mastering Japanese etiquette for fear of making a social blunder. But one thing to keep in mind is that the Japanese don’t expect foreigners to master or really know much of Japanese etiquette.

This is not to say that it’s not important or that you need not learn it. But you’ll find that when you display some knowledge of it they are pleasantly surprised. There are more rules to etiquette in Japan than in most other cultures. In fact, once you start getting into it, you'll realize there are more rules of etiquette than you can shake a stick at! But you got to begin somewhere right?

The Importance of Limiting Eye Contact

Also, it’s important not to make a lot of direct eye contact. Japanese find this uncomfortable. One way to cope with this difficult situation is to look at the eyes and then away or preferably down before looking again. This doesn't mean that you should stare at your shoes. You can look at various places on the face before looking back at the eyes. For example eyebrows, mouth area etc. Try this simple rule: limit eye contact to 25% of the time.


Volumes could be written on this aspect of Japanese etiquette alone. There are many levels that span from just barely cracking your head to full-blown face on the tatami prostration. Age, gender, position in the company and situation all impact the length and depth of the bow.

The bow also has many meanings like, excuse me, thank you, I’m sorry, nice to meet you. Bows are also used to kick-off conversations and to acknowledge someone’s presence.
Bow with a straight back and eyes cast downward. Men have have their hands at their sides. Women have their hands in front.If someone bows to you, you return the gesture. To keep things simple and to stay on the safe side, bow slightly longer and slightly deeper than the other.

No comments:

Post a Comment