Tips for Doing Business in Japan

Japanese business etiquetteWhole books have been written about business practices in South East Asia and about the correct method of the seemingly simple task of exchanging business cards.

A quick search on the internet will provide you with a plethora of sites offering information about proper Chinese business etiquette, about what you should and shouldn’t do in Korea, and 1001 ways to succeed in Japan.

Whilst some of this information is undoubtedly useful, it’s really not as complicated as some like to make out, as long as you follow a few basic rules:


  • Exchange business cards at the beginning of your meeting: consider it as part of your greeting when you first meet your Asian counterparts.
  • Bow slightly and present your business card with both hands, the non-English side up.
  • You should receive your clients’ business cards the same way: with both hands, bowing slightly.
  • Study the other person’s card for a moment, making a mental note of their name, and then put it away in a card holder. Alternatively, if there are a number of members present in your meeting, you can lay all the cards out on the table in front of you and leave them there until the end of the meeting.


  • DO NOT pass your business cards out as though you are dealing a deck of playing cards.
  • When receiving someone’s business card, DO NOT just give it a cursory glance, then stuff it away in your pocket to refer to later.
  • Try NOT keep taking people’s business cards out of your pocket to check their names: as a matter of courtesy it is worth making the effort to remember their name when they give you their card.
  • DO NOT play or fiddle with people’s business cards – treat them with respect. A Western businessman once famously lost a big deal for picking his teeth with one of his colleagues’ business cards, and was never given the opportunity to do business with the company again.
  • DO NOT write on people’s business cards (at least, not in front of them): it is considered a direct insult.


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With over 25 years’ experience and a full complement of in-house language and design experts, we are ideally placed to produce high-quality business card translation and artwork, allowing you to make that all-important first impression.

Contact us for a free quote or if you have any questions.