Japanese Greeting Etiquette and Customs – Lesson Two on Bowing

by ebazaar 30 September 2009 No Comment

Hello all, and welcome to lesson two of Japanese Greeting Etiquette and Customs! This time, it will be on the main form of physical greeting in Japan, which is bowing. Bowing, in the Japanese culture is much more common rather than giving a casual handshake or a hug (for much more casual and friendlier occasions), like people of other nation usually do. Bowing, together with its implication is actually quite complicated, especially for foreigners like us to comprehend.

japanese greeting bowing

Bowing in Japan (Pic credit:S Keiko)

Most social situations in Japan have an appropriate greeting, and bowing has many degrees and depths, depending on many relations involve with it. Visitors should make a point of trying to learn greetings associated with various occasions, particularly if you’re planning to visit the country or stay there. it will eventually help you to understand their culture more. Bowing in Japan is used when people upon meeting and departing, as well as to express your gratitude.

Here’s the tricky parts about bowing – the depth of the bow and the number of seconds devoted to performing it, as well as the total number of bows, depends on who you are, to whom you’re bowing, and how they’re bowing back. When bowing, hands are usually straight at the side, palms inward as they bow for men, but for women, hands are hold straight down in front with hands crossed. A deep bow is meant to great people with higher disposition and at formal receptions. A less deeper bow is usually perform when greeting customers and people you don’t really know. While greeting a colleague in the bar for a beer might only merit a nod of the head. But the bow also depends on your resolution as well. Sometimes, it is due to other circumstances too. For example, a person who is greatly indebted to another person may give out a very deep bow as well. Even the station guard will bow as the train moves off. So don’t be surprise if you see this kind of things when you get there.

In general, visitors to Japan do not need to worry about how to bow as most Japanese will assume to shake hands with them. But I think there’s no harm in bowing too, as an act of respect for their culture. Bowing in Japanese language is pronounce as ‘Ojigi shimasu‘.

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