Japan is one of the trendiest places to do business in these days. It is a high-income country without a high resistance to entry, so you can make your entrance without too much trouble. With that being said, there are a few things you will need to know before you set a shop in the Land of the Rising Sun.
- Always stay formal – Formalities are a crucial component of meetings in Japan. Always introduce yourself with your full name, the name of your company, as well as the title you possess. Then, you will be introduced to whoever is your counterpart in the other company. While there is no need to bow, you do need to nod your head while shaking their hand.
- Remove your shoes – Always ensure that you have removed your shoes before entering someone’s home, a restaurant, or even most offices. Make sure you do not forget that Japan frowns upon tipping.
- Your business card is your soul – Business cards are extremely important in Japan’s business world. You will be treated like a joke without one, your cards should always have an English side and a Japanese one. It is also common etiquette to receive business cards with two hands, thank the giver, then study the card in detail (it is okay to go a bit overboard.) Place the cards you have on the table and collect them after the meeting. Make sure not to deface the cards you are given in any way.
- If you come to a business meeting, make sure you wear a suit. If you are a man, avoid a black tie, and if you are a woman, you should be wearing blouses and skirts, together with high heels. Also, avoid wearing all black, as that is the funeral color in Japan.
- Respectful treatment is a must. Never ask negatively-phrased questions and avoid eye contact.
- Always bring a present – Whenever you can, bring gifts for your hosts, in addition to your assistants and workers. While these need not be expensive, they should be well wrapped. Never give 4 of something, as 4 is the number of death.
- Socializing after work – If you are asked to socialize with someone after office hours, generally, it is treated as an honor. This means you should not turn it down, and while it is on the host to pay, you should at least offer to do so.