Japan: Gestures & Body Language


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Generally in Japan, physical contact in public settings is limited, especially between members of the opposite sex. Eye contact in Japan is less direct than in many Western countries; direct eye contact can be viewed as challenging or aggressive. In a formal situation, Japanese will stand with feet together, straight posture, hands overlapping, and eyes downcast to denote respect. It is considered polite to sit is straight up in the chair with your feet flat on the floor.

Pointing at others with one's finger is considered impolite. Most Japanese people will gesture towards someone with an open hand. You may find that Japanese people will often give street directions with an open hand, to avoid accidentally pointing at someone.

Typical gestures you may observe include:


Key Points: