Tips from Business Passport to Japan
by Sue Shinomiya and Brain
below is an excerpt from one of the useful books on Japan, Business
Passport to Japan:
and Being Hosted
Passport to Japan)
is almost an art form in Japan. Here are some assumption
regarding hosts and guests:
host should make things look as smooth as possible
should be no surprises
care of someone should be all inclusive - no time should go
needs - always be one step ahead of any eventuality
dinner, guests should be seated in order to rank, with the senior
person in the middle on the side farthest from the door.
dinner or a nightclub, the host should pay for dinner or drinks out
of sight - no discussion of bills or checks should take place (in front
of the guests).
bidding farewell, the host should accompany guests until they have
departed and are out of sight.
>Avoid awkwardness at all
>Communicate in advance to
your Japanese hosts details on the gender,
ranks and roles of all in your party, who is in charge, and whether
anyone is allergic to or unable to eat any food item.
>Graciously accept what is
thinking your hosts for their fine hospitality and
apologizing for all the trouble you are causing them
>Bring gifts - as a way to
balance the inevitable effort that will be
shown to the guest.
Note: Westerners tend to want to
make their own choices at restaurants;
to have everything already decided can make some feel shackled, as
though personal preferences don't matter. This is why the
guest-host scenario in Japan can sometimes bring on distress rather
the intended feeling of comfort. Remember that for the Japanese
letting the uninitiated guests experience the discomfort of making
tough decisions about unfamiliar food would be considered upsetting and
rude. For the guest, the part of least resistance is to go with
Getting to Know People and Doing
Business in Japan
are methodical and meticulous in their approach to most
situations in both social and business situations. They tend to
following procedures and are not known for their flexibility in bending
As in may other Asian countries, "saving face" and maintaining dignity
is absolutely critical in every situation.
to another person, the Japanese add the suffix "san" to the end of a
person's family name. It is the English equivalent of Mr. or Mrs.
The Japanese will be
impressed if you have taken the time to learn a couple of Japanese
The Japanese view
bowing as an art form. Care and attention to given to the correct
angle and style of bow. The more junior person always bows first
and with a greater depth and angle.
Meeting and Negotiation
place a very high importance on personal interactions and spend a great
deal of their time building relationships and developing trust.
Avoid scheduling meetings during the three main holiday periods and
adjacent weekends, such as year's end and the New Year, Golden Week
of April and early May) and the Obon Festival (mid-August).
Punctuality is important in Japan; therefore, be sure to take heavy
traffic into account when scheduling appointments.
Business cards are very important The presentation of business
card (meishi) is an acknowledgment of a person's identity.
It is wise to have cards printed in Japanese on one side and English on
the other. The business cards are presented and received using
Avoid appearing rash and hard in your attitude, speech, or
mannerisms. The Japanese do not respond well to aggressive
are generally non confrontational and prefer to establish unanimous
consensus when making decisions.
The Japanese do not bargain over price and other terms as much as many
of their Asian neighbors. They will usually make one issue at a
time, rather than presenting all for debate at one time.
The Japanese often avoid sustained eye contact. Junior people are
less likely to make eye contact and will keep their visual focus low
and their heads slightly bowed down out of respect for the speaker.
Most Japanese are not
accustomed to dealing with women in business situations. If you
are a foreign woman, the Japanese may find it difficult to socialize
with you on a business level. Do not take it personally.
Banks 09:00-15:00 hours
Post Offices 09:00-17:00 hours
Most businesses and government offices are open from
9:00-17:00 hours on weekdays. Some companies still operate for a
half day on Saturdays.