Study Abroad in Japan

With KCP International, you can earn more Japanese credit than you would in an entire year at your university. Plus, you can pick your start date!

Find out more

Learn Japanese Online

Immerse yourself in the heart of Tokyo with a wide variety of courses, flexible schedules and convenient packages you keep your experience easy!

Apply Now

Join Our Newsletter

Read all about Japanese immersion learning and studying abroad. Check out our eZasshi archives for more articles!

Woman in the kimono bowed

Japanese Bowing Customs

Bowing is such a deeply rooted practice in Japanese culture that individuals will frequently bow even when speaking on the phone, despite knowing the other person cannot see them.

Ojigi customs are a fundamental aspect of Japanese life, embodying respect, gratitude, and humility in social interactions. Here are key insights into Japanese bowing customs:

International business communication and rules concept. Young business people colleagues cartoon characters standing making Japanese greeting bow vector illustrationAvoid Simultaneous Handshakes and Bows: Unlike many countries where handshakes are customary in business settings, Japanese traditionally greet each other with bows. Over time, they have adapted to handshakes through interactions with foreigners. However, it’s important not to attempt both gestures simultaneously. Instead, observe and respond to the other person’s body language.

Young Couple Wearing Kimono Bow Deeply

Maintain Eye Contact: When bowing, it’s customary not to make eye contact, as this can be perceived as aggressive in Japanese culture. Instead, focus your gaze downwards towards the ground, in alignment with the bend of your body.

Adjust the Depth and Duration of Bow: The depth and duration of a bow reflect the social hierarchy. Show greater respect to those of higher status or older by bowing longer and deeper. This gesture symbolizes humility and respect, although it doesn’t necessitate a 90° bow every time.

Business Corporate People Japanese Ethnicity Meeting ConceptPractice Patience and Willingness: Mastery of bowing takes time, even for Japanese individuals. Making an effort to learn and practice is appreciated regardless of occasional mistakes. The key is to demonstrate a willingness to understand and embrace cultural nuances.

Understanding the rationale behind customs, whether bowing or shaking hands, fosters consideration for others. Manners serve to nurture harmonious relationships globally. In Japanese culture, bowing represents non-contact communication, reflecting a value for respectful distance. Likewise, the use of honorific language underscores a sense of psychological respect.

Customs of a certain country are expressions rooted in cultural significance. By appreciating cultural backgrounds, one can understand the thoughtfulness behind seemingly formal gestures and apply them genuinely in interpersonal exchanges.

Sign-up for our newsletter

Read all about Japanese immersion learning and studying abroad. Check out our eZasshi archives for more articles!