11 Examples of Japanese Etiquette That Would Drive Us Crazy

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Japan is famous for its incredibly complex etiquette rules. It may seem unnecessary to turn simple actions into ceremonies, but in Japan, for sure, no one is offended by this.

We at Bixize have collected for you some rules of courtesy from Japan.

11. Addressing people

To address people by name is not enough in Japan. And the respectful title “-san” is only the tip of the iceberg. There are actually more honorific suffixes for addressing or referring to people:

  • “-kun” — a less formal honorific than the neutral “-san.” General use of “-kun” approximately means “friend.”
  • “-chan” — a diminutive suffix, primarily used for children, female family members, lovers, and close friends.
  • “-sama” — the most respectful version (“lord,” “honorable”). It was used to refer to lords and deities. Nowadays, it’s sometimes used to express sarcasm.
  • “-senpai” — for addressing one’s elder colleagues or schoolmates.
  • “-kōhai” — the opposite of “senpai.”
  • “-sensei” — for addressing teachers, doctors, scientists, politicians, and other authority figures.
  • “-shi” — for formal writing.

10. Exchanging business cards

It’s a whole ritual. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Make sure your card’s front side is facing your counterpart.
  • Offer it with both hands.
  • If your rank is lower than your partner’s, hold the card lower than they do.
  • If you were given a business card, put it on a cardholder, and take a few seconds to look at it.
  • Don’t forget to bow.
  • If you haven’t got a cardholder, it’s a disaster.

It’s a far cry from what we have — just putting business cards in our pocket!

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