Corporate Management

Bowing in Japanese Manner (お辞儀)

Another aspect of Japanese culture that many are familiar with is bowing (お辞儀) Bowing is a Japanese cultural practice that reflects politeness and respect. It is a unique characteristic and an essential social etiquette learned from a young age. Bowing is important in both social and business contexts. Particularly in business, incorrect bowing can make you appear unprofessional and incompetent, potentially causing problems in business negotiations.

There are three types of Japanese bowing, each with different meanings and uses depending on the situation and relationship between individuals:

  1. Eshaku (会釈) – Greeting Bow : A slight bow of about 15 degrees.

      – Greeting colleagues or superiors when entering or leaving the company.

      – When passing by superiors or executives at work.

      – General greetings or informal thanks, such as to acquaintances.

      – In job interviews, used to request permission to enter or exit the interview room.

  1. Keirei (敬礼) – Formal Bow : A bow of about 30 degrees.

      – Greeting customers or when visiting and receiving clients.

      – In job interviews, used to show respect to the interviewer (when standing in front of the interviewer).

      – In the workplace, especially in Japanese companies, this bow is most commonly seen in business contexts, such as meeting clients, attending meetings, or interacting with superiors.

  1. Saikeirei (最敬礼) – Deep Respect Bow : A deep bow of about 45 degrees or more.

      – In very formal situations or to show the utmost respect.

      – In important ceremonies (冠婚葬祭, Kankonsousai), such as Coming of Age ceremonies, weddings, funerals, and ancestral rites.

      – When expressing profound gratitude or sincere apologies.

      – In job interviews, used after the interview is finished; after standing up from the chair, bow deeply to the interviewer.

Proper Bowing Technique

  1. Stand upright  with a straight back.
  2. Hand placement : For women, place hands together with the left hand over the right in front of you. For men, let both hands hang naturally at your sides.
  3. Greeting or speaking : Complete the greeting or statement before bowing.
  4. Bowing : Bend at the waist, not just the head, and hold the position for 3-5 seconds. When rising, do so slowly to appear respectful and polite.

In Japan, bowing is not only used for greetings but also for other social expressions, such as:

– Starting or ending meetings, classes, or ceremonies.

– Showing congratulations.

– Making requests.

– Visiting shrines.

– Starting or finishing martial arts and sports competitions.

Understanding and practicing these bowing etiquettes can help navigate social and professional interactions in Japan more smoothly.

Source : Marumura


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