Dress Code

In Japanese business etiquette dress code and appearance hold a very high value. The Japanese are very formal and frequently dress to impress despite having a somewhat conservative demeanor. The rule of thumb is to always play it safe and dress formally. Stick to dark colors preferably black or dark blue. Wear shoes that are easy to put on and remove as you will likely be doing so quite often.

In Japanese business etiquette the Japanese pay close attention to ones attire and can equate a good appearance to having high social and corporate status. Dressing impressively can pay very large dividends. One should make every effort possible to dress well.

Business casual attire is not always accepted in Japanese business etiquette. Of course there are situations where it is acceptable to dress casually such as a sporting event or activity, but you would never want to be the one who is underdressed in comparison to the group. On the other hand, it never hurts you to be overdressed for any occasion. Therefore, it is always better to be safe and dress formally.

The Japanese have a saying, “ the nail that sticks out gets hit with the hammer.” This saying holds true in Japanese business etiquette and should be applied to your selection of attire when preparing for a business meeting in Japan.

The recommended code for men is a conservative and well put together business suit. The recommended colors are dark ones, preferably black or dark blue. The quality of your attire makes a difference in your appearance, so it makes sense to invest in a nice suit and have it altered to fit you correctly. Wear something low key yet classy. You want to impress without standing out too much.

Women should dress conservatively also. Heels are not appropriate in a business setting and should be avoided. In Japanese business etiquette women should not have many accessories either. Women should also avoid wearing pants in a business setting due to the fact that sometimes it is considered offensive. Generally speaking, the same conservative principals that men follow should be applied to women also.

When speaking you should never point or use excessive hand gestures. This is considered to be a very informal means of communicating and will take away from your message. Using hand signals should be avoided also as they have different meanings in Japan. For example, the “ok” hand gesture means money in Japanese culture.

In Japanese business etiquette nonverbal communication is a well known part of interaction and communication. This may be difficult for foreigners to grasp and the Japanese understand that. However, understanding what signs to look for or display can help tremendously. Smiling can have multiple meanings in Japanese business etiquette, so keep this in mind when you smile. Also, the Japanese embrace silence, so do not feel uncomfortable if there is silence in the room for an extended period of time. Knowing these ideas this will help to avoid sending the wrong message in certain situations.