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How do Japanese greet each other?


Japanese culture is fascinating and unique in many ways, including their customs and etiquette when it comes to social interactions. One of the most important aspects of Japanese culture is how they greet each other. The way Japanese people greet one another reflects their values of respect, humility, and harmony.

Bowing as a Sign of Respect

One of the most common ways that Japanese people greet each other is by bowing. Bowing is a sign of respect and humility in Japanese culture. The deeper the bow, the more respect is shown. A slight bow is appropriate for casual acquaintances, while a deeper bow is used for those in positions of authority or elders.

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Using Honorific Titles

In addition to bowing, Japanese people often use honorific titles to show respect when greeting someone. These titles are added to the end of a person’s name and vary depending on the relationship between the two individuals. For example, “san” is a common honorific title used for people of equal status or acquaintances.

Handshakes in Business Settings

While bowing is the most common form of greeting in Japan, handshakes are becoming more common, particularly in business settings. However, it’s important to note that Japanese people may not initiate a handshake themselves and may prefer to bow instead.

Exchanging Business Cards

Another important aspect of greetings in Japan is exchanging business cards. This exchange is done with both hands and is accompanied by a slight bow. Business cards are considered an extension of one’s identity and should be treated with respect.

Greeting with Words

Japanese people also greet each other with words, such as “ohayou gozaimasu” (good morning) or “konnichiwa” (hello). These greetings are often accompanied by a bow or nod of the head.

Greetings Among Friends

Among friends, Japanese people may use more informal greetings such as “yoroshiku” (nice to meet you) or “genki?” (how are you?). These greetings reflect the close relationship between friends and the importance of maintaining harmony within those relationships.

Greetings Among Family

Within families, Japanese people often use specific terms to address each other based on their relationship. For example, “otousan” is used for father and “oneesan” is used for older sister. These terms reflect the familial hierarchy and show respect for elders.

Greetings During Holidays

During holidays, Japanese people have specific greetings that reflect the occasion. For example, during New Year’s, it’s common to say “akemashite omedetou gozaimasu” (happy new year) while bowing deeply.

Greetings in Public Places

In public places such as trains or buses, it’s common for Japanese people to greet others with a simple nod or smile. These gestures reflect the importance of acknowledging others around you and maintaining social harmony.


In conclusion, greetings in Japan are an essential part of social interactions that reflect the values of respect, humility, and harmony within their culture. By understanding these customs and etiquette, visitors to Japan can show their appreciation for this unique culture and build positive relationships with those they encounter.

Why do Japanese bow instead of shake hands?

When meeting someone in Japan, it is common to greet them with a bow and a handshake. The bow is viewed as a sign of respect and is valued by Japanese people. A small bow to indicate politeness is also acceptable.

What do you reply to Konichiwa?

In Japanese, if someone greets you with “Konnichiwa,” it is appropriate to respond with the same phrase. While it typically translates to “Good afternoon” or “Hello” and is commonly used during the daytime, it is also acceptable to…

What does Moshi Moshi mean in Japan?

“MOSHIMOSHI” is a phrase commonly used when making a phone call, with its origin stemming from the Japanese word “MÔSU” which means “to say” in a polite manner. With the advent of telephones in Japan, telephone operators would use this greeting when answering calls. While its exact origins are debated, “MOSHIMOSHI” remains a commonly used expression today.

How do you respectfully greet a Japanese person?

In Japan, bowing is the common way of greeting. The depth and duration of the bow can signify the level of respect towards the person being greeted, with a deeper and longer bow indicating greater respect. Conversely, a small nod indicates a more casual and informal greeting. When the greeting occurs on a tatami floor, people kneel down to bow.

Is it rude to not finish your food in Japan?

In Japan, it is not impolite to leave food on one’s plate as it signals to the host that one wants more. On the other hand, finishing all of one’s food, particularly the rice, communicates satisfaction and that one does not need any more servings.

What do Japanese say before eating?

Before starting a meal, it is customary for Japanese individuals to say “itadakimasu.” This is a polite way of expressing gratitude for the food and showing appreciation for whoever prepared the meal.

The Importance of Greetings in Japan

In Japan, greetings are considered an important and necessary part of social interactions. They are seen as a way to show respect for others and maintain harmony within relationships. Japanese people take great care in the way they greet others, using various forms of bowing, honorific titles, and respectful language. By doing so, they create a sense of mutual respect and trust with those around them.

The Benefits of Learning Japanese Greetings

For those who plan to visit or work in Japan, learning about Japanese greetings can be highly beneficial. By understanding these customs and etiquette, visitors can show their respect for Japanese culture and build positive relationships with the locals. Additionally, using appropriate greetings can help to avoid misunderstandings or cultural faux pas that may arise from not knowing the proper way to greet someone.

Differences Between Japanese and Western Greetings

Compared to Western cultures, Japanese greetings are more formal and emphasize respect for others. While Westerners may use handshakes or hugs as a form of greeting, these physical gestures are not common in Japan. Instead, Japanese people place greater importance on bowing, using honorific titles, and exchanging business cards. Additionally, while Westerners may use casual language when greeting friends or family members, even in formal situations, Japanese people use more formal language at all times.

The Evolution of Greetings in Japan

The way Japanese people greet each other has evolved over time, reflecting changes in Japanese society and culture. For example, bowing was once reserved only for those in positions of authority or higher status, but today it is used more widely as a sign of respect. Similarly, the use of handshakes has become more common in business settings as Japan becomes more globalized. As the culture continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how greetings change and adapt to new social norms and technologies.

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