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Business Card Etiquette in Japan

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Business Card Etiquette in Japan

While on a group tour, business trip or incentive travel to Japan, it is customary in many situations to exchange business cards with your host.

The Japanese have a precise set of manners, called Meishi, to initiate the exchange of business cards.

If there is any custom you should follow closely while on your trip to Japan, it’s to be aware of Business Card Etiquette. Business cards are considered not just simple contact information, but actually an extension of you. Your  business card is very important, it announces your identity, affiliation and place within the corporate hierarchy.

When having your Japanese business cards printed, keep in mind that information is presented a little differently from English business cards. The country appears first, then the State, the City with the zip code in front, followed by the address. Don’t get too fancy with layout, the horizontal format is the norm in Japan.

  • When cards are exchanged, the Japanese side of the card should always face upward. To demonstrate the utmost respect while presenting your card, hand it to the recipient with both hands. If you are meeting with several Japanese, give out the cards in order of professional rank.
  • When first receiving the card from your Japanese host, do not just take it and put it in your pocket. Take your time and read the card, then put it carefully into your business card holder.
  • Never write on a business card in front of a Japanese person.
  • Your business cards should be in perfect condition. No bent or damaged cards. Never damage a business card in front of your host, it would be considered very rude.
  • Make sure you bring along enough business cards on your trip. Running out of cards is considered very poor manners. It is not unusual on a business or group trip to hand out 40-50 cards in a single setting.
  • Never carry cards loosely in your pocket, and never look at a card to repeast the person’s name. It is considered poor etiquette.
  • Always carry your cards in a distinctive business card case.
  • Keep in mind that with any Japanese business setting, cooperation, teamwork and the group are far more important than individual action. Always address the group as a whole rather than single out individuals.
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