Four tips on how to apply Japanese manners in a workplace setting


Japan, an established business hub both domestically and internationally, is a land of opportunity. Enjoying the third largest economy in the world, this East Asian country has proven itself a leader in many global markets.

On the other hand, Japan is also known for its culture. Indeed, the current generation are custodians of many years of tradition. While ancient cultures and traditions can sometimes stifle development, Japan has clearly demonstrated that ritual and technology coexist harmoniously.

With the world becoming smaller daily, businesspeople may find themselves working in Japan or with Japanese companies. This is where it is important to note that Japanese work culture can be rather adamant, even abroad. Japanese executives can be rather rigorous about workplace conduct, so here are some things to be mindful of when meeting with them:

Self introduction

Introducing yourself is an easy part to mess up. While bowing is generally necessary, Japanese are compassionate and will offer a polite handshake if abroad, or even 'wai' in Thailand. However, we suggest avoiding physical contact.

When meeting someone for the first time, try introducing yourself in Japanese. This will automatically set you aside from other candidates as it shows that you have done your research and are interested in them. Just a simple 'Haji-me-ma-shi-te (your name) desu' - 'hello, I'm (your name), nice to meet you' will break the ice and leave a deeper impression.

This aspect of introduction can be involved in your work environment. Doing prior research on your client or employer is always appreciated and builds rapport. Bowing may be a bit excessive to some but a gentle handshake can go a long way.

Business cards

There is nothing more serious than business cards when doing business with Japanese. Not only is there a strict protocol on how to receive the card but also how you handle it after.

Politely hand a business card with two hands, while still standing, and receive theirs in return. Slightly bowing while receiving is a form of respect. Take a few seconds to review their card, with emphasis on name and title. When seated, place the card on the table in front of you for the entire duration of the meeting.

Business cards are a great way to avoid any misunderstandings, especially names and titles, establishing a hierarchy. They give a clear indication on who is who and does what.


There is nothing more professional than dressing the part. Japan is particular about what to wear while working. Irrespective of their field, they dress formally at least during their first meeting.

Dressing neatly and politely will be familiar to everyone the world over.


Tardiness is not acceptable in Japan. On time equals late. It is recommended to be at least 10 minutes early to a meeting. Arriving a bit early will give you time to analyse the location of the meeting and arrange seatings respective to the meeting attendees.

This aspect of Japanese business mannerism is universal. Nothing can go wrong if you are a bit early. It gives you time to prepare and go through the agenda.

Japanese business manners have many more pointers that can be incorporated into your work environment. Some may be stringent but are certainly worth assimilating into your workplace for effective and efficient office manners, especially when working alongside Japanese businesspeople. Pasona Thailand is here to help introduce your team to Japanese work culturecontact us today to see how we can help.