Proper Etiquettes to Do Business in Japan

This is a guest post by Andrew Black. To write an article for our website, please see our write for us guideline

When you are doing business in Japan, you do not want to spoil your deal by violatingJapanese business etiquettes. Japanese take pride in their customs, traditions andculture, whereas business etiquettes are no exception.

Practically, Japanese business etiquettes are not very different from what is practicedin other parts of the Asian region and somewhat in the West. Sensitivity, harmony,politeness and manners are the pillars of their etiquettes. However, one may find theJapanese business more formal as compared to those practiced in the Western world.

Fortunately, the Japanese do not treat business people so strictly and you can expectminor contraventions to be tolerated. Japanese follow certain rules in great detail andmake sure these are religiously practiced. Those etiquettes are just as the Japanesesaying goes, “The nail that sticks up gets hit with the hammer”.

1.  Attire:

There have been some changes in the Japanese business attire; however, thereare no changes in the business attire yet. Men wear dark colored suits with white shirtand tie from October until April and gray suiting from May to September. Men usually wearhalf sleeved shirt during summer. Women wear longer skirt suits or trouser suits with thesame colors as men. Women wearing short skirts, jewelry and high heeled shoes are notencouraged. This is strictly against the business attire etiquette.

2.  Communication:

Japanese business persons are downright conscious about timings andexpect you to respond in not more than 24 hours. You are expected to inform beforehand ofany delays and so on. Japanese tolerate long silences easily, so do not offer solutions.Delegate a subordinate to take meeting minutes. The Japanese are brilliant at takingnotes and can quote you exactly years later.

3.  Business Cards:

According to Japanese business etiquettes, business cards hold animperative place. If you are going for a week to Japan, carry at least one hundred cards.If your original business card is in English, then get double-sided business cardsprinted i.e. each side for both English and Japanese. Never attempt to write anythingon the business cards, instead use a small diary or notebook. When you are offered abusiness card, accept it with both the hands and say thank you or “Hajimemashite”.

4.  Business Meetings:

Make appointments several weeks in advance. It is best to make anappointment via telephone instead of fax and email. Be punctual and arrive on time asother people will also do so. Never refuse an offer, no matter how non-profitable ordifficult it may seem. The Japanese look for investing into long term relationships.Always bring along printed literature about your company that should include businessinformation, client testimonials and articles.

5.  Personal Habits:

Well mannered people are highly appreciated in Japan. The mostinteresting fact is that most Japanese business persons avoid shaking hands, and if you do so they might not want to meet you ever again. When addressing about your employees,never use derogatory remarks, as it highly detested as per Japanese business etiquettes.Be pleasant and smile when needed. Ask questions about their business and other relatedissues, and display willingness to learn.

Besides, the above mentioned Japanese business etiquettes, being a foreigner you shouldalways expect direct questioning. For example, you might be asked on some privatematters, such as the size of your house or your monthly income. Don’t be offended as theyare customized questions; however, never reciprocate to these questions.


Andrew has been doing business in Japan for 3 years, where he has learnt the variousaspects of the Japanese culture. When he is not travelling, Andrew distribute rice ball machines and sushi machines

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *