Japanese Etiquette

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A basic overview of Japanese Etiquette :

A basic overview of Japanese Etiquette Amanda Burden (Yamanashi 2003-2006)


Language Do you need to speak Japanese? Yes: to establish rapport to show initiative to become part of the team to demonstrate interest in the country to earn the respect of your peers for studying such a difficult language

Language ctn’d:

Language ctn’d Not necessarily… It’s all about HOW you say it Actions speak louder than words! Basic useful phrases Sumimasen Domo arigatou gozaimasu Dozo yoroshiku onegaishimasu


Overview Consider your role Are you a guest? Are you a “foreigner”? Consider the environment Formal / business / casual


Situations Meeting people Guest Dining Maintaining relationships

Meeting people :

Meeting people Supervisor Kocho / Kyoto sensei Other teachers People in the community


Greeting! Hajimemashite To shake or bow? Either is fine: YOU initiate ~ desu . Say your name slowly If you have a business card, get it ready O sewa ni natte orimasu This means “Thank you for taking care of me!” ONLY to people who are helping you Dozo yoroshiku onegaishimasu This means: “I I hope to start a good relationship”

Business cards:

Business cards Your supervisor Get a meishi case Your kocho / kyoto sensei If you receive it at a table, leave it face up in front of you and after the meeting, store it Other teachers Probably won’t give you business cards People in the community Treat them like kocho / kyoto sensei


Omiyage To your supervisor Tsumaranai mono desu ga … To kocho / kyoto sensei To other teachers To people in the community Neighbors New friends


PRACTICE! Amanda sensei, supervisor Amanda sensei, kocho / kyoto sensei Amanda sensei, home economics teacher Amanda san, elderly neighbor downstairs

As a guest:

As a guest Be on time!!! When entering a home… O jama shimasu – I’m invading your space Take off your shoes in the genkan (foyer) If you’re offered slippers, remove them and leave them outside if entering a tatami room If you brought omiyage (which you did!), present it to the host / hostess Spirits in the States, flowers in France, junk food in Japan (sweets, dessert or snacks!) Giri / Ki o tsukau Japanese hosts will go OUT OF THEIR WAY to be gracious, so don’t push it with special requests. Ex: What would you like to drink? Japanese people will ask what your friend / host is drinking and have the same so as not to inconvenience them Don’t worry about that, but don’t make special requests to come off as a high maintenance guest The onus is on THEM to offer, and YOU to refuse… For dietary restrictions… Let the host know as far in advance If there are food items you can’t eat, express deep regret and use the “STOP” gesture Spending the night You’ll be offered the bath – scrub yourself down and do you washing with soap outside of the bathtub using the pail OR shower Don’t drain the water, because it’ll be reused. If you’re squeamish, you can skip the bath part. Consider the circumstances under which you were invited…*

As a guest ctn’d:

As a guest ctn’d Sitting Under kotatsu If your legs are too long, beware kicking someone Cross legged is best Not under kotatsu It’s rude to cross legs for ladies Seiza alternatives: legs to the side (ladies), cross legged (men) Position Least important person sits near the door – NOT you


Dining Chopsticks Don’t play with them, use them to gesture, spear anything, etc. Family-style food If you go to a restaurant, expect to share* Don’t “help yourself” – the host will serve you Don’t hover your chopsticks over a dish Pouring drinks Pour drink for your neighbor If at an enkai , wait for the toast to imbibe! If you need more of a beverage, offer your neighbor some and they’ll do the same Rice Rice is the staple of the meal; all items prepared are meant as complements It’s slightly sticky to enable you to grab large clumps, so don’t mix it up or add soy sauce You may pick up the chawan (bowl) to eat it Itadakimasu Wait after the host is seated to eat If you want more of something, you can comment on how delicious it was if you’re shy to reach for more!

Dining ctn’d:

Dining ctn’d Table Manners Eating Noodles Slurping is fine, but it’s not sucking, it’s inhaling Not necessary for spaghetti, though some do it The aftermath You don’t have to clean your plate Not always necessary to stack plates that are finished Keep your area clean Paying… If you’re invited by senpai , they *may* treat you Refuse until they seem offended Thank them profusely! Gochisou samadeshita A little thank you note with a “one-point English” joke or something is a thoughtful gesture Going Dutch is a bit different The designated host usually divvies up the check Men usually pay more than women Vegetarians / non-drinkers, beware… If you need the waiter / waitress Sumimasen Onegaishimasu


PRACTICE! At a new friend’s home At a restaurant At an enkai

Miscellaneous tips: Don’ts:

Miscellaneous tips: Don’ts Be late or cancel If you are late, it’s important to apologize; the greater the inconvenience, the more ways you should demonstrate your regret If you *must* cancel, deeply apologize and suggest an alternative date or solution You will not receive invitations again if you continue to dottu kyanseru Attend to personal grooming in public Blow your nose in private Mints are better than chewing gum – you can bring a toothbrush around if you need Do your makeup in the bathroom Some Western body language Yawning is BAD, period ( kara genki) Fidgeting / shaking legs comes off as childish Be a rude communicator… Don’t ask why! Communication in Japan is like bowling, not tennis Complaining or commenting about how something is weird in Japan may be taken personally Be sarcastic

Miscellaneous tips: Don’ts ctn’d:

Miscellaneous tips: Don’ts ctn’d WARPS Automatically feel that you have to take it! If *you* feel offended by… A personal question, just smile and say, Chotto hazukashii desu… A comment, just make a tight smile and try to move the conversation away from it A gesture (sexual harassment), you don’t have to tolerate it and can be firm in cutting off that behavior

Miscellaneous tips: Do’s:

Miscellaneous tips: Do’s Appearances count! Keep your hair and clothing tidy and in good condition Get anti-mildew stuff for your closet Get a fan to blow air through your closet for drying clothing The amount of care you put into your appearance reflects how much care you will put into the relationship Keep your apartment clean and in good shape for your sanity and to increase your social options Open body language – crossed arms vs. folded hands Thank people graciously! Ask questions politely People love to share information about themselves and their culture Who, what, when, where, how are fine… Be comfortable with silence Bring a stash of Western goodies just in case Wrapped non-chocolate mints or hard candy lasts at least a month Pencils, pins, postcards, blank CDs to make mixes…

Miscellaneous tips: Do’s ctn’d:

Miscellaneous tips: Do’s ctn’d Earnestness goes a long way Actions speak louder than words SMILE


Resources Google “Japanese Etiquette” Big eyes and ears Books by Donald Richie (Temple University professor) Hokkaido Highway Blues: Hitchhiking Japan by Will Ferguson

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