In Japan, the gift culture is very strong, and every year there are two special gift-giving seasons: o-chugen (in summer) and o-seibo (in winter).
In many nations, opening a gift at once is customary. It is a symbol of covetousness and impatience in Japan. What if the gift giver is humiliated by their humble gift and feels a shade of disappointment running over your face, like a breeze in the reeds?
In this country, the art of bowing is so important that kids learn it at an early age. In Japan, there are many different ways to bow: standing, sitting, and variants for women and men. Some of them are here:
- The greeting bow (“eshaku”) of 15° is for people of equal business or social rank.
- The respectful bow (“keirei”) of 30° is a bow for a teacher or a boss.
- The deeply reverent bow (“saikeirei”) of 45° should be used if you apologize or see the emperor.
- The “begging for your life” bow is probably only used nowadays if you have done something really terrible.
Of course, foreigners are not expected to bow, but the Japanese will be pleased if you return a bow.
1. Taking leave
A client or business partner in Japan is practically a god and treated with immense respect. The entire company follows them to the door or elevator as they exit and proceed to bow until the doors are closed.
If this occurs in a business center with several such delegations crowding simultaneously at elevators, it is very inconvenient. It can also be humiliating to foreign customers. The new generation’s Japanese feel this is a little too much and sometimes neglect this practice. We wonder what fate will await in the coming centuries the traditional Japanese etiquette.