When greeting people in business, follow the local's lead. Although bowing is
common among locals, many Japanese take great pride in understanding foreign customs
and may insist on following European etiquette. Allow them to take the lead and
follow suite. One thing that must be followed however is acknowledgement of the
person speaking to you, which is symbolized by a regular head nod when a point is
made. It is considered rude to make strong eye contact with a person older or more
respected than you. Finally, there are numerous meanings behind body language so
avoid touching your face or head, as simply scratching your head may send an unintentional
message to the present company.
The traditional clothing of Japan is called the kimono, which is a simple
garment that completely covers a person from the neck down. This outfit, worn by
both men and women, comes in various designs and styles as differing types of kimono
are used for differing occasions. Generally, men wear a black kimono, which
women wear kimono of every color and pattern as well as scenes from nature
or the animal world. Women also tend to include numerous details on their kimono,
such as a sash called an obi and a belt-like rope called an obijime.
Today the kimono is only worn on special occasions in Japan as most people
prefer western-styled clothing, which range in style and design significantly as
there are few dress restrictions in Japan. As a visitor to Japan there is, likewise,
no real dress restrictions as shorts and short-sleeved shirts are common and well
accepted. Clothes that is quite revealing may be looked down upon, but short skirts
are no uncommon in Japan. More than anything, dress for the weather and the occasion
in Japan. Temples always require more conservative dress and the cities, especially
during work hours, tend to be quite formal. There seems to be a differing dress
from day to night in many cities as the work crowd fades and the nightlife begins.
If in doubt, dress on the more conservative and formal side.