Tips on Japanese Manners


For all you that wish to work in Japan or even just considering to, I would like to share some basic manners in Japan. Since manners exist to avoid discomfort when with other people, having manners should make it easier for you to get along with people who you are not familiar with.

Treat business cards with care

You will receive a business card not only during work or in an interview, but also during social gatherings and round table discussions. You should receive a business card using both of your hands and look at the person straight in the eye. Be careful not to write anything, fold, or stuff the card into your pocket where the person could see you. Instead, keep it in your wallet or inside a card case.

Do not talk inside the train

As this type of public transportation is a necessity in Japan, try not to talk on your phone on the train. Other than irritating the passengers on the train, it is worth noting that it also causes inconvenience to the person calling you. Phone calls on the train are difficult to hear in the first place, with the vibration of the train. In addition, announcements would make it harder to communicate. Therefore, if you happen to receive a call inside a train, you can answer the call, but should convey the situation and tell the person calling what time you will be able to get back to them. Here is an example. “I apologize for your inconvenience but I am on a train at the moment. May I call you back at 10:30?” This way, you will be able to communicate with your prospective employer without discomfort and at the same time give a positive impression of yourself by showing that you are considerate.

Wear suits during job-hunting

In Japan, suits are the typical wear for anything related to job hunting Do not be tricked by the ‘No dress code.’ The majority of the applicants tend to dress formally during the job-hunting process. This is to give a clean, neat, reliable impression and will not be discomforting to anyone. In Japan, some people may even get a bad impression if applicants dress too uniquely. This includes strong perfume, creative hairstyles, and heavy makeup. Time to time, you will be asked to come in casual wear (私服). However, in most cases, wearing a suit will allow you to appeal yourself without giving a negative impression.


Manners are there for a reason- to coexist with others without discomfort. Always keep in mind people are influenced by your actions. Just constantly ask yourself, “What should I do to give a positive impression of myself to others?”