Brain food: A passport to Japan

Brain food: A passport to Japan - The prejudice: We see them as friendly but unpredictable and inscrutable; they like to see us as steeped in English tradition, with a reverence for Oxbridge.

by DR FRANK BURDETT, language and culture for business programme
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

The prejudice: We see them as friendly but unpredictable and inscrutable; they like to see us as steeped in English tradition, with a reverence for Oxbridge.

Best foot forward: Be guided by your host at every turn. Be polite and deferential and bow when meeting others. Present your business card with both hands, with the type facing the recipient and the right way up. It is impolite to make unexpected requests, demands or invitations.

Dress code: Wear a business suit for meetings. If you visit a restaurant or Buddhist temple, watch to see if your host removes his shoes on entering the building.

The main event: Be on time and don't dash off as soon as a meeting is over - being first to leave is considered rude. Key topics should be agreed beforehand and adhered to - big meetings are not the time to ask awkward or unexpected questions.

Table manners: A hard day's work will usually be followed by a meal out, a few bars, and then a nightclub.

Do say: Talk about sport - football and baseball are particular favourites. Business gossip goes down well too.

Do not say: Don't ask direct personal questions; say 'In Japan, is there ... ?' rather than 'Do you ... ?'

Signs of success: Don't expect instant decisions; they will reach you later. The Japanese avoid giving straight 'no' answers, so listen carefully to what is said. Gifts are often exchanged at the end of a visit, so have something ready for everyone (brandy or whisky is popular).

Gambare!

www.lcb.org.uk

brain food is edited by Andrew Saunders: andrew.saunders@haynet.com.

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