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.
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This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in Japan only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.