‘Silence is gold’: President of Japan House L.A. shares Japanese etiquette advice

Japan 2020

When it comes to Japanese etiquette, there are a few basic tips every traveler should know, according to President of Japan House Los Angeles Yuko Kaifu.

Instead of a handshake, the preferred greeting in Japan involves a bow — and you should be sure to be on time, according to Kaifu.

“All the public transportation — be it bus, be it train, bullet train — they are on time,” Kaifu said. “Traffic cannot be a reason why you are late in Japan.”

As president of Japan House, Kaifu works to share and celebrate the best of Japanese art, culture, food and more with others around the world. The organization has locations in London, Los Angeles and Sao Paulo.

When it comes to dining, there is no need to tip. Kaifu recommends learning a few key expressions: “itadakimasu,” meaning “thank you, I’m eating it;” and “gochisousama” or “gochisousamadeshita,” meaning “it was such a great treat.”

She also recommends not talking loudly in public.

“As I always say, ‘Eloquence is silver. Silence is gold,'” Kaifu said.

During business transactions, always present your business card face forward and treat others’ cards with extreme care.

“You have to handle it as if it were part of the person,” Kaifu said.

Gifts are appreciated but avoid those that arouse superstitions. Kaifu recommends avoiding gifts that cut, such as scissors, and items that come in denominations of four.

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