It’s a Matter of Respect

For those who don’t know already, I’m going to Japan in March for a huge work event. I am also going to be able to travel around and explore certain parts of the country.

So, over the past week or so I have been reading all sorts of guides and websites in order to figure out what I want to do there, as well as to learn more about the Japanese culture.

What I can’t wait to experience is this so-called “culture shock” that everyone says they experience when visiting Japan. This is the result of seeing the traditional Japanese culture almost side-by-side with the modern “only-in-Japan” flare.

Think Geisha, then Buddhist monks, and then Harajuku girls. Right.

I keep reading about how both streams of culture co-exist peacefully and I can’t wait to see this for myself.

Today I was reading about the custom of bowing, and how far low you bow and for how long depends on who you are, who you are bowing to, etc.

Apparently, since the Japanese know that foreigners tend to shake hands when they meet, during business meetings they try to do the same. But, because of habit, they still tend to bow slightly at the same time.

The author of the article said that the best example she had seen that demonstrated that this tradition was now a habit, was when she walked past someone who was bowing while saying hello on the phone, even though the person on the other end could not see the polite gesture.

This image both charmed and amused me at the same time.