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Business Etiquette In Japan

As one of the most important markets in the world, Japan is a top destination for experts from every field. It is the third largest economy in the world, making it the perfect destination for young professionals hoping to launch an international career. If you’re looking to do business in Japan, build up a network or simply gain experience, an understanding of business etiquette in Japan is essential. Although these tips might be difficult to remember, making an effort will go a long way towards building good relationships.

Here are 7 important things to know about business etiquette in Japan.

1. Jackets

It is considered polite to take your jacket off before you enter a building. Doing so outside rather than in the lobby means you won’t be blocking the way for other people. This etiquette tip is particularly important for those interning in Japan during colder months.

2. Cleanliness

Personal hygiene is an extremely important part of business etiquette in Japan. Japanese homes are generally kept pristine, which is part of the reason it is polite to remove your shoes upon entry. If you’re sick or even just have a cold, it is also polite to wear a face mask when out in public, so as not to get other people sick. It is impolite to eat or drink on the streets, so no munching on your breakfast on the way to your internship! When you’re visiting a temple, you’ll be required to rinse your hands outside before stepping inside.


Business Etiquette in Japan

3. Shoes

In many settings in Japan, removing your shoes is a required politeness. Always remove your shoes when you are entering someone’s home. Follow the lead of your host, and check for a pile of slippers or a shoe rack by the door. You should never go barefoot, so if you’re in Japan during the summer, make sure to have a pair of socks with you when wearing sandals. Keep in mind that many Japanese homes will also have a separate pair of slippers to wear when entering the bathroom.

4. Business cards

As a young professional in Japan, it is essential to have a few business cards on hand. Business cards are treated with extreme respect and are an important part of Japanese business etiquette. Keep your business cards in a wallet or case to make sure that they are crisp and clean. First impressions are everything! When receiving someone’s business card, don’t immediately put it into your wallet or pocket; this is one of the most important things to remember as a professional in Japan. If you’re sitting down, leave the business card on the table until everyone gets up to leave. Otherwise, accept the card with both hands, and hold it respectfully.

5. Bowing

Bowing is extremely important in Japan. However, it’s extremely important to know when and how it is appropriate to bow. Bowing is used in many different scenarios, including greetings, showing respect or appreciation, and accepting greeting cards. The proper way to bow in Japan is to bend at the waist with a straight back, keeping your eyes down.


Business etiquette in Japan


6. Pointing

Pointing, using either your finger or another object, is considered extremely rude in Japan. Try to avoid pointing at other people, as it is considered a very disrespectful gesture.

7. Office attire

While many small companies in Japan may have a more casual business attire, keep in mind that traditional Japanese office have a formal dress code. When packing for your international internship, it’s best to include business attire, and dress up for the first few days until you have a better understanding of the dress code in your specific office.

Apply now for an international internship in Japan and launch your career!



Sources: cv



  1. based on   The World Turned Upside Down, by Balint Fodesi, CC BY 2.0
  2. based on dragon king saagara at sensou-ji temple, by Keroyama, CC BY 2.0
  3. based on Sensō-ji. Asakusa Tokyo, by Bernard Spragg. NZ, CC BY 2.0
Photos and blog by Maeve Allsup

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!