Foreigners dealing with Japanese counterparts sometimes start from the erroneous assumption that the rules of conduct in social and business situations are similar to those in China or Korea. While there is some overlap of attitudes between these three countries, there are also significant differences that can cause serious problems when the wrong assumptions are made. General experience in East Asia and one’s best intentions are not adequate to successful communication and interaction with the Japanese.
While some religions and beliefs may be similar to those in China (Buddhism, the values taught by Confucius), others are unique to this island nation which was practically isolated from the rest of the world for 250 years. These include the Shinto religion and the concepts of kata relating to martial arts but also Kabuki Theater and the tea ceremony and wa which is the concept of societal harmony. Japanese language has special forms of politeness keigo which vary with the rank of both parties to a conversation and honne (truth) and tatemae (façade) styles of speaking that differentiate between speech intended to be straightforward and speech that is merely polite.
Japanese business operates along different lines with consensus building and decision making relying on the ringi and nemawashi process. Communication styles, the nature and expectations of a contract, the negotiation process and styles of thinking and learning all have aspects that are unique to Japan. In addition, there are numerous codes for the right way to hold chopsticks, to put on a yukata, to greeting people and exchanging business cards, to behavior at dinner, in a bar, at the bathhouse, etc…
Our training can be more thorough with a two or three day session but we can make sure that the rudiments of basic behavior are understood in a one-day training session (which would only touch on negotiation but not in depth).