Business Cards

Use Of Business Cards In Japan


Business cards, known in Japan as “meishi”, are used in a much more formal way than in the West. For Japanese, it is vital to know a person’s position within a company so that they can show the appropriate level of respect, a business card is a means of indicating a person’s status, and so becomes the starting point for any meeting.

Being Prepared

Make sure you have more than enough business cards available to hand out to everyone you meet. It is usual for non-Japanese to use business cards with their details in English on one side of their card, and in Japanese on the other side. Have your business card prepared by a translation company that has experience in typesetting Japanese business cards (like Cortext), there are a few cultural differences that make it more than a straight forward translation of the details.

How To Exchange Cards

Offer your business card before asking for the other person’s, and always use both hands when giving or receiving a card (or anything else).

When you receive a card, it is customary to spend a few moments reading it to show polite interest in meeting the person. Speaking his or her name to be sure of correct pronunciation is also recommended.

If you are going to sit down for a meeting with the person, it is usual to place their card next to you on the table so that you can refer to it, specially if there are several people at the meeting.

Once you are finished with the person’s business card, make sure to put it away in a manner that shows you value it, such as placing it in a wallet or jacket pocket, shoving it in your back pocket would be considered impolite!