Most foreigners want to see the beauty of Japan and experience the best of the country’s culture. Part of the unique culture is the act of “bowing”, which is not common to most countries. For Japanese, this is an ultimate act of showing courtesy and there are many reasons why they do it. Before enjoying the beauty of the country, it is important to know such an important part of their culture.
1. Greetings – For western people, a handshake or kiss on the cheek are common greetings. For Japanese, a light bow with a 10-degree angle or nod may also mean hello or saying goodbye.
2. Introductions – For both formal and casual introductions, it is expected to bow with an angle of 30 degrees together with the upper body. In addition, the shoulders and the head should be straight and both hands on the side.
3. Meishi – This term means “business card” and exchanging meishi is taken seriously in this country. During the exchange, it is important to bow properly and hold it for a few seconds without eye contact. To avoid head contact, keep distance and the bow with a 45-degree angle.
4. Game match – Before any game begins, players bow to show a sign of respect to each other. This is just a light bow that normally includes an angle of 20 degrees. It is very common to see this in before a Sumo or soccer match as well as other famous sports in Japan.
Generally, bowing shows respect but different bows are used for various purposes. Make sure to know the proper way; otherwise, it would mean discourteous to Japanese people.