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Home - Living in Japan - Etiquette
Japanese Bowing

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In Japan, people greet each other by bowing. A bow ranges from a small nod of the head to a long, 90 degree bend at the waist. If the greeting takes place on tatami floor, people get on their knees in order to bow.

When bowing to someone of higher social status, a deeper, longer bow indicates respect. Conversely, a small head nod is casual and informal. However, most Japanese do not expect foreigners to know proper bowing rules and so a nod of the head is usually sufficient.

It is also common to bow to express thanks, to apologize, to make a request or to ask someone a favor.

Shaking hands is uncommon among the Japanese, but again, exceptions are made for foreigners.

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