What to consider when doing business in Japan

This infographic looks at some important aspects of Japanese culture and language to consider when doing business and market research in Japan. As Japanese culture varies from European culture, especially British, there’s lots to bear in mind in order to make your business ventures a success.



  • Traditionally Japanese is written and read from the top right of the page downwards in columns, however, it can also be written left to right as we do in English.
  • The Japanese language has only 48 ‘sounds’ so foreign words have to be adapted to fit these sounds when being translated.
  • There are dozens of different Japanese dialects but the three most notable are Standard Japanese which is the official language of Japan, Kansai Dialect which is spoken around the Western part of Japan and Tohoku Dialect which is usually associated with farmers and people living out in more rural areas.
  • When translating from English to Japanese the text increase can be from 20-60% so it’s worth keeping this in mind if you are formatting the text somewhere with limited space, for example a leaflet or an advert.



  • There are 17 days national holidays in Japan – to plan ahead use our infographic to avoid these dates for business or market research.
  • Business etiquette is very important in Japan but Japanese people are usually quite forgiving to outsiders as long as you make an effort and always show respect.
  • Everyone you meet will give you a business card so remember to take plenty with you!
  • To make the best impression it would be prudent to have Japanese on one side of your business card.
  • Business cards are seen as an extension of identity in Japan. When giving and receiving business cards use both of your hands to exchange cards. Read the cards you are given before putting them in your business card holder. Never place them in your pocket or wallet as this is seen as very indiscrete.
  • When meeting your Japanese colleagues, bow to them and wait to see if they initiate a handshake and then wait for direction on where to sit if you are going straight into a meeting.
  • When negotiating or selling to Japanese counter-parts, resist going in for the hard sell. Find a persuasive argument based on positive aspects of your offer and don’t rush the decision making process.
  • Privacy is very important in Japan so avoid asking too many personal questions as a way of building rapport, as this is likely to cause offence.


To Japan and beyond

If you are interested in learning more about Japanese, take a look at our Japanese language page. If you require translation services, we can offer you 25+ years of experience and trusted, qualified, mother-tongue linguists who understand Japanese language and culture inside out. Whether you require your business cards, your survey script or your meeting agenda translated into Japanese, we have the knowledge and expertise to give you the best possible translation. Give us a call on +44 1727 862722 or send us your project details using the form below.


"Kelly was very proactive in communicating timelines and managed to deliver even earlier when I told her how helpful this would be. On this project like on previous projects our client has complimented on the quality of the translation, unprompted."


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