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What is respectful in Japan?


Respect is a crucial aspect of Japanese culture. The Japanese people are known for their polite and respectful behavior towards others. This article explores what is considered respectful in Japan, including the language, customs, and etiquette that are expected in various situations.

The Language of Respect

Japanese language has a unique system of honorifics that reflects the hierarchical nature of Japanese society. Honorifics are used to show respect to people of higher social status or age. The use of proper titles and suffixes such as “san” or “sama” when addressing someone is an essential aspect of respectful communication in Japan.

Japanese Snack Box

Greetings and Bowing

Bowing is a common way of showing respect in Japan. The depth and duration of the bow depend on the situation and the person being greeted. A simple nod or a slight bow is suitable for casual greetings, while a more profound bow is expected when meeting someone of higher status or age.

Gift Giving

Gift-giving is an important part of Japanese culture, and it is often done to express gratitude or appreciation. When giving a gift, it’s essential to wrap it carefully and present it with both hands. It’s also customary to refuse the gift several times before finally accepting it.

Dining Etiquette

Dining etiquette in Japan is highly formalized, with many rules governing how to eat and behave at the table. One should wait until everyone is served before starting to eat, use chopsticks correctly, and avoid making noise while eating. It’s also customary to say “itadakimasu” before starting the meal and “gochisosama deshita” after finishing.

Personal Space

The concept of personal space is different in Japan than in Western cultures. Japanese people are accustomed to living in close quarters, so it’s essential to respect other people’s personal space. It’s common to bow slightly when passing by someone or give them plenty of space when standing in line.


The way you dress in Japan can also be a sign of respect. Dressing appropriately for the occasion shows that you respect the people you are meeting with. For example, wearing formal attire for business meetings or traditional clothing for cultural events is expected.


Apologizing is an essential part of Japanese culture, and it’s crucial to do it sincerely when you have made a mistake or caused inconvenience to others. Bowing while apologizing shows that you are taking responsibility for your actions.

Public Behavior

Public behavior is another aspect of respectful behavior in Japan. It’s essential to be quiet on public transportation, not litter, and follow traffic rules. Being considerate of others’ needs is highly valued in Japanese society.

Respect for Elders

Respect for elders is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture. The elderly are considered wise and deserving of reverence, so it’s important to address them with honorific titles and show deference in their presence.

Maintaining Harmony

Maintaining harmony is another key aspect of respectful behavior in Japan. It’s important to avoid confrontation and maintain a peaceful atmosphere, even if you disagree with someone else’s opinion or behavior.


In conclusion, showing respect in Japan involves a complex set of customs and behaviors that reflect the hierarchical nature of Japanese society. By following these guidelines, you can show that you understand and appreciate Japanese culture while fostering positive relationships with the people around you.

What is the Japanese way of respect?

In Japan, the traditional way of greeting someone is by bowing. The depth and length of the bow depend on the level of respect, with a deeper and longer bow indicating higher respect. Conversely, a small nod of the head is more casual and informal. When the greeting takes place on a tatami floor, people will kneel down to bow.

What are Japanese values in respect?

In Japanese culture, it is common to show modesty and humility through actions like bowing to demonstrate respect for others. The length and angle of the bow can indicate the level of respect being shown. Japanese people often practice both Buddhism and Shintoism as their religions simultaneously.

What is honor in Japanese culture?

MEIYO, which means honour, was highly valued by warriors as it represented self-respect and adherence to one’s principles. Samurai placed great importance on maintaining a good reputation from a young age and made efforts to uphold it throughout their lives.

What do Japanese value most?

In Japanese culture, important values include putting others first, striving for excellence, persevering through challenges, showing respect to elders, understanding one’s role, and working collaboratively. These principles are instilled in individuals from a young age and are reinforced throughout their academic and professional careers.

What are 3 main cultural values in Japan?

Japanese social interaction is founded on three essential values: harmony, order, and self-development. These values are influenced by religious and philosophical traditions that shape their beliefs about human society and the self.

What is important to Japanese culture?

While there is diversity in Japanese culture, some common themes include valuing one’s social group and place of birth, a style of communication that is polite and humble, a practical approach to problems, and a love for artistic pursuits and entertainment.


While hierarchical structures are part of Japanese culture, egalitarianism is also valued. It’s important to treat everyone with respect, regardless of their social status or occupation. This is particularly true in professional settings, where collaboration and teamwork are essential.

Politeness and Courtesy

Politeness and courtesy are central to Japanese culture. It’s important to use polite language and show consideration for others’ feelings. This extends to small gestures, such as holding the door open for someone or offering your seat to an elderly person on public transportation.


Punctuality is highly valued in Japan, and being late is considered disrespectful. It’s essential to arrive on time for meetings, appointments, and other events. If you are running late, it’s customary to notify the other party as soon as possible.

Non-Verbal Communication

Non-verbal communication is an essential aspect of respectful behavior in Japan. Facial expressions, gestures, and body language can convey nuances of meaning that words cannot. It’s important to be aware of your non-verbal cues and to read those of others carefully.

Respect for Nature

Respect for nature is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture. The natural world is seen as sacred, and it’s essential to treat it with reverence. This includes practices such as recycling, conserving energy, and avoiding littering.

Respect for Traditions

Japan has a rich cultural heritage that is deeply respected by its people. It’s important to honor traditions and customs, whether they are related to art, music, religion, or daily life. This includes participating in cultural festivals and respecting sacred sites.


Showing respect in Japan is about more than just following rules and customs; it’s about demonstrating a deep understanding and appreciation for the country’s culture and values. By embracing these principles of respect, you can build strong relationships with the people around you while gaining a deeper appreciation for Japanese society.

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