Business Etiquette in Japan - Important Tips for CPhI Japan Exhibitors and Visitors

Planning on joining us at CPhI Japan? Whether you’re a visitor or exhibitor, it’s likely that you’ll have plenty of meetings to attend onsite.

When visiting Japan – particularly with the aim of doing business – it is a good idea to learn about what is considered good etiquette. This is a nation which takes respect, serenity and politeness extremely seriously. While it is easy to assume that behaving professionally and naturally as you would do back home is the correct approach, vast cultural differences mean this may not always be the case! Luckily enough, you have us to guide you through the possible pitfalls of doing business in Japan and have you on the road to success. Read on and learn!

The Early Bird Gets the Worm
While not a Japanese proverb, its sentiment still rings true and, in this case, the “worm” equals a successful deal with the Japanese. This is a nation which takes respect and the way in which you show it extremely seriously, and punctuality is a form of respect. Make sure you get to your meetings early to get them off to the right start!


The Introduction
The best way to greet your potential business partner is with a bow - an “ojigi” in Japanese – rather than a handshake. While handshakes aren’t the norm, representatives from international companies may offer to shake your hand. If this does happen, don’t go in for a hard handshake which “means business”, instead take their hand gently.

When making introductions and addressing your Japanese counterpart, never do so by their first name unless you’re invited to do so. Go down the traditional Mr or Mrs route, or use their surname with the addition of “san”. For example, Mr Takahashi would lose the “Mr” and become Takahashi san, with “San” being pronounced “sahn”


Business Cards
A word of warning, the Japanese take the art of business-card-giving extremely seriously. Have your card printed in English on one side and Japanese on the other, and when handing it over, hold the bottom two corners and present it with the Japanese side facing the person you’re offering it to. If you’re sitting far away from the person in a group, don’t toss or push the card across the table. Walk over to them to show your respect.

When accepting a business card, use both hands and say thank you. Keep Japanese cards in a proper card case, never a normal wallet or – god forbid – your pocket.

Let’s Talk Numbers:

  • 100 business cards for a one-week business trip to Japan
  • 3-4 cards for a small meeting
  • 10-12 for a larger one
  • 100 per day at a trade show! – time to stock up


Making contact
If there’s a particular company you’d like to meet at CPhI Japan, we recommend reaching out pre-show. It’s important you do some groundwork prior to the event as the Japanese may be less likely to visit your stand if they’ve not heard of your company before. Whether you’re a visitor or an exhibitor, a great way to pre-establish a connection and guarantee a meeting onsite is by taking advantage of our matchmaking system.


Communication and understanding are key in business, so it is imperative that you translate all of your marketing materials into Japanese prior to the show. Any signage, brochures and even business cards, should be translated. We recommend the services of Mr Fujita at Yakubo Communicators, Inc. whose details we’ve listed below: 

Yakubo Communicators, Inc 

  • Address: 201 Yanaka Mihama Build, 3-1-5 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN
  • Tel: +81-3-5832-9384 
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Your contact: Mr Fujita


There will be a large percentage of Japanese visitors amongst our attendees and if you’re exhibiting at CPhI Japan we recommend that you hire an interpreter to join you at your stand. Stand personnel and interpreters can be provided by submitting Form C-12 Stand Personnel and C-13 Interpreters from your Exhibitor Manual to the official temporary staff agents below:


For Stand Personnel, contact:

Vento Corporation

  • Address: Arusu Ichigaya 302, 4-8-30 Kudanmimani
    Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0074 JAPAN
  • Tel: +81-3-3237-3337 
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Your contacts: Mr Daisuke Kojima, Mr Keitaro Oka


To hire an Interpreter, contact:


  • Address: c/o Translators Union Inc, Ebara Bldg. 113
    3-13-21 Kami-Osaki, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo
    141-0021 JAPAN
  • Tel: +81-3-6408-9265 
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Your contact: Mr. Saito


We also suggest that visitors to the show hire an interpreter to facilitate communication with the Japanese. We don’t provide a service for visitors, but if you’re interested we recommend contacting Mr Saito on the details mentioned above.

We hope this will help you prepare for the show and make the best out of your time at CPhI Japan. Should you have any questions about the above or the event, send an email to our customer service team, or call +31 (0)20 708 1637.