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Japanese Business Etiquette

Japanese Business Etiquette
In Japan, there are many manners to learn for business. Whether it be via email, phone, face to face, or in a letter, the manners necessary for interacting with other professionals are abound. Here you will learn some of Japanese business etiquette basics.

Basic Greetings for Use at Work

Greetings are one good way to create good relationships with other people. The regular use of greetings, communication with supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates is made a lot easier. Greeting types can largely be split into two groups. The first group is morning greetings like ohayō gozaimasu which can be used when you or a colleague arrive at work. The second group mid-work or end-of-the-day greetings like otsukare-sama desu. The most important part of a greeting is that it be done cheerfully while looking into your colleague’s eyes. Good greetings lead to good communication and good communication leads to a good working environment.

Smart Business Card Exchange

The exchange of business cards is a form of greeting and if it can be done smoothly, you will leave a positive impression on the person you are meeting. The basic flow of the exchange begins with the preparation of business cards. Always make sure to check if you have the correct business card in hand and that you have enough cards to give to everyone you will be meeting. Next, you will introduce yourself, “kabushiki gaisha ________ no Ojima to mōshimasu” (I’m Ojima of ________ Co., Ltd.) while looking into the other person’s eyes and greeting them. When you are receiving a card, take the card with both hands and check the person’s name. If the other person’s name is difficult to read, it is okay to check with them by asking, “________ to oyomishite yoroshī deshōka” (Is ________ the correct way to read your name?). The other person may do the same and this is to prevent any confusion in the future. The exchange of business cards is very common in Japan so make sure to always keep some in your bag or pocket.

Heisha and Onsha

When referring to your own place of work in email correspondence, over the phone, or in face to face conversations the word heisha (our company, we) is used. When referring to the company of the person you are speaking to, the word onsha (your company) is used. These words are regularly used in business settings. For example, when you are presenting an opinion on behalf of your own company one might say, “heisha to shite wa ________” (our company thinks ________). Or when asking the opinion of the other company, “onsha to shite wa dō okangae deshōka” (what does your company think?). One thing to keep in mind is that the word onsha is used in speaking and the word kisha (your company) is written with different characters and should be used in emails and other writing.


Above are some of the basic business manners that can be applied in almost all business situations. However, keep in mind that different industries have different norms. Be sure to learn about these after starting your new job.

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