Japanese Business Etiquette Tips: Gifts And Gift Giving, San And After-Hours Entertainment Customs

10 Japanese Business Etiquette Tips you want to know before making embarrassing mistakes: Etiquette in Japan for Gifts, San, Women

Doing Business in Japan without knowing these customs is like diving into a pool without checking the water.

The more you know about the culture of Japan the better you can present yourself.If you are not familiar with the Japanese business culture you are risking the whole purpose of your business trip.

Above all, in Japan respect is fundamental.

The Etiquette in Japan

You are being examined even on your tenth meeting. The Japanese are very detail orientated. Expect lots of questions repeated in different ways. These questions are intended to check your integrity and reliability. Be sure to have all the answers or you will appear unprofessional.

Silence is often used as a negotiating strategy. This silence can go on for minutes (which will feel like hours…). Do not be tempted to jump in.

Non-verbal communication is very important in the Japanese business etiquette. Your movements, your clothes, the way you talk and even your Japanese table manners are being examined.
See More: Dressing Code In Tokyo
See Also: Japanese Table Manners: Common Mistakes Westerners Do

Japanese Business Etiquette: Gifts And Gift Giving

Bring Along Plenty of Gifts. For hosts, assistants, wives, even for the maids at the Hotel. Believe me you’ll want to give them (service is outstanding here).

Japanese Business Etiquette: San

Its Really very simple. You call everyone by his/her last name+San. That’s basic Etiquette here.

If you’d like to add in a few words in Japanese you’d gain lots of extra points with your hosts.
Rates and Reviews: Electronic Japanese/English translator (compact little Appliance, that will fit into your pocket)
See More: A Japanese Word List And Free Japanese Lessons

Japanese Business Etiquette: Tips

Bowing is nothing less than an art in Japan. It’s for showing respect, thanking, apologizing, greeting and so on. Don’t assume you can learn how to do it right. The etiquette surrounding bowing is very complex. The depth and length of a bow depends on the social status or age of the person you bow to. Just offer a handshake combined with a slight nod of the head and you’re fine.

See More: Japanese Business Culture

Evenings are dedicated to drinking in Hostess bars as part of Japanese business etiquette.





Business cards have their own little ceremony in Japan. Every Japanese has a business card. Japan is a very formal society, by presenting the card you know his status and he knows yours.Make sure you have plenty of business cards with you, preferably ones with your details in Japanese on one side and English on the other side.There is a strict ceremony for exchanging business cards. Present your business card positioning the card with the writing towards your colleague. When you receive a card, take it with both hands, and read the card carefully. Keep the card on the table in front of you and don’t put it in your pocket.

See Also: Doing Business In Japan

Negotiation can be long and frustrating in Japan. Decisions have to go through all levels of Hierarchy. This leaves you in uncertainty for long periods of time. Trying to hurry the situation will be interpreted as impatience.

Don’t say No. That’s too straight forward for the Japanese culture. Try using “I have to consult, I will check it”. The Japanese appreciate group thinking and team work so it will give you extra points.





Friendly hugs, patting on the Back. Americans doing business in Japan might express their friendly feelings by patting on the back or an arm around their host’s shoulder. But touching and expressing feelings are a Big No-No in Japan.

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Tokyo Trip Checklist

  • To make sure you have all the important things covered see my first-time-in-Tokyo guide
  • Get your 1,2 or 3-day Tokyo Unlimited Subway Pass to easily get around Tokyo
  • If you want to travel on bullet trains you can save big with a Japan Rail Pass. Here’s why is worth it.
  • You’ll need a prepaid sim or Portable WIFI to stay connected in Tokyo.
  • Check out my detailed Tokyo packing list to make sure you’re prepared.
  • The best site to book hotels in Tokyo is almost always Booking.com. And remember to book early, especially during busy times.
  • For travel insurance (which you need) Word Nomads offer great coverage in Japan and are highly recommended.

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