Successful Entertaining in Japan

Business meals form an integral part of commercial life in Japan and should be seen as an important facet of the all-important relationship building process.

Therefore, if you are invited out for lunch or dinner (rarely breakfast), it is important to accept. The person who invites will invariably pick up the bill. Do not offend by offering to pay if you have been invited by them.

When using chop-sticks, never point them at anybody and do not leave them sticking into your rice. When not in use, rest your chop-sticks on the holder which will be provided on the table.
It is considered polite to leave some food on your plate (or in the bowl) at the end of the meal to show that you have eaten a sufficiency.

When taken to a traditional Japanese restaurant, it is customary to remove your shoes when entering. (This is not, however, the case in other types of restaurants.) A Japanese host will take great delight in choosing the food and explaining to you the different types of dishes on offer. Japan has a rich and varied cuisine – it is not all raw fish and pickles.

If you invite a Japanese guest for dinner, take them to a restaurant which reflects your own culinary heritage and you can then explain your own culture and customs to them.

Tipping is not customary in Japan, as this cost is usually included in the bill.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Japan

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Japan – a decades old paradox. Ultimately modern; completely traditional.

It has perplexed observers for decades as to how Japan can be so advanced in terms of technology and infrastructure whilst at the same time being wedded to traditional cultural approaches to all things corporate. Japanese companies are at the same time innovative and disruptive whilst retaining strong alignment to traditional hierarchical structures, risk aversion and detail obsession. How does Japan retain its position in the global economic league tables when it seems to stubbornly refuses to move with the latest corporate thinking?

The question continues to be asked as to whether it is really possible to do business in Japan as a foreign entity or are things so weighted against foreign entrants that it really isn’t worth the effort. The answer has to be a resounding ‘yes’ as many companies have entered the Japanese market and had great success. However, many companies have also failed to crack the Japanese market.

So what is the key to doing business in Japan in a successful and sustainable manner? At Global Business Culture we strongly believe that understanding Japanese business culture is the key to success. How can Japan be innovative and traditional? The answer is ‘culture’. How can Japanese companies retain strong alignment to hierarchy and remain efficient? The answer is ‘culture’.

Looking at Japanese business culture is not a ‘nice to do’ it’s a definite ‘need to do’. Take the time to really understand the key drivers of your Japanese colleagues, clients and other stakeholder and you will find the benefits obvious and immediate.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Japanese business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips