5 things you must NOT do while in Japan on business

5 things you must NOT do while in Japan on business

Because Japan’s culture is very respectful, Japanese businesspeople have a particular way of accepting and passing out business cards. They are very serious about business cards and do not simply hand them out at any time.

This can be tricky for foreigners visiting Japan on business.

To simplify the steps you should take when exchanging business cards (or “meishi”) in Japan, I have compiled this list of do and don’ts:


  • Exchange cards at the beginning of a meeting
  • Make sure you have enough cards for everyone
  • Have one side of your card printed in Japanese
  • Stand up when exchanging cards with those of high rank
  • Bow slightly and always face the person to whom you are giving your card (this also applies to receiving cards)
  • Take a moment to read and review each card you are given


  1. Only glance at a card when you receive it
  2. Put a card in your pocket when you receive it
  3. Bend a card you receive in any way
  4. Cover the logo or the person’s name with your hand when receiving a card
  5. Be caught without enough cards (the Japanese hand out a lot of cards, so you should expect to use many more than you would at home)

For a better understanding of this important concept, view this video, which actually shows the bowing and holding of the card.

At Wells & Drew, we translate and print cards in multiple languages every week and ship them around the world. For more information, click here or dial 800-342-8636.

The most popular business card sizes are the U.S. size and Euro size. International business card sizes are as follows (listed in inches):

  1. United States, Canada  2 × 3.5
  2. Japan 582 × 2.165
  3. Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Malaysia 543 × 2.125
  4. Australia 370 × 2.125
  5. Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, Taiwan, Sweden, India, Colombia 3.54 × 2.165
  6. Iran 346 × 1.889
  7. Ireland, Italy, United Kingdom, Spain, Switzerland, 346 × 2.165
  8. Argentina, India, Brazil, Costa Rica, Finland, Israel, Russia, Mexico     3.543 × 1.968

When traveling overseas for business, it is not necessary for you to have business cards that are the same size as those of the native country. However, it is highly advisable to have your business cards printed in that country’s native language. Handing out a business card written in a language that your client does not understand puts you in a disadvantage.

We often translate business cards for clients. We print the card text in our client’s native language on one side and in the destination country’s language on the other side. For more information on our translating services, click here.