Business Culture in Japan

Japanese culture is a very polite culture and manners are very important. For example you never show the bottom of your shoes to the host or sit too relaxed. Dress code is important too. Usually you should wear clean and tidy clothes, dark suit is always a good option. (Moilanen, 2010, 19.)

Traditionally employer and employee have had a very close relationship. Managers have made the decisions but workers have been very loyal to company they work in. Somehow the line between the worker and manager was unclear and employee was maybe too loyal to employer but now the situation has changed and the line between employer and employee has become more clear little by little. (Moilanen 2010, 25.) It was usual that Japanese did extremely long work hours before but it has changed. Nowadays working hours are quite similar to western working hours and especially young people are enjoying the free time they have. Women are now transferring themselves to business world. Before it was usual that men were working and women were at home taking care of the children and home. (Moilanen 2010, 20-21.)

In Japan it is ordinary thing to receive and give business gifts. Usually a foreigner gets a gift at the first meeting and if you get a gift from Japanese person you have to make sure to give something back during your visit. But make sure your gift is not more expensive that the gift you’ve received: it might be insulting to Japanese. Good gifts are for example different Finnish products, such as handmade art craft, chocolate, music album… However, there are some forbidden products: products you can cut something (scissors, knives…) might tell to Japanese that you want cut loose your relationship. Cheap marketing products re forbidden as well. And always make sure you don’t give same thing twice to same person, it is tactless in Japan. Whisky is an exception to this rule. (Sunglobe, 2016.)

It is also usual to give a business card to everyone you meet. When you give your business card, remember to hold it with both of your hands and give it to Japanese person. And when you receive a business card, remember to thank for it and deal with it with respect. (Moilanen 2010, 19-20.)

Japanese want to use their own language in business meetings and it is usual that there is an interpreter at the meeting. They are not sure about their English skills that they want the interpreter to be present so there will be no misunderstandings. (Moilanen, 2010, 15.)


Sunglobe. Tietoa liikelahjoista. Lahjakulttuuri eri maissa. Referenced 16.3.2016.

Moilanen, Teemu 2010. Japanin liiketoimintakulttuurin todellisuus ja uskomukset. Opinnäytetyö. Jyväskylän ammattikorkeakoulu. Referenced 16.3.2016.