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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This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Japan. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.

With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Japan and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.

Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics:

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