Japanese Business Dress CodeJapanese business professionals are often extremely formal in their business attire. When approaching a meeting with Japanese clients, not only are Japanese business cards highly important, but it’s also best to air on the side of caution with conservative apparel. The Japanese place a keen importance to the detail and sophistication of business clothing. This can often reflect a status level in the traditionally rigid Japanese business hierarchy. Thus, well-presented conservative business attire will likely exemplify a positive and even higher corporate standing when meeting with Japanese clients.
Conservative NatureThis conservative nature in a Japanese business setting means that you will likely encounter Japanese staff to wear conservative colors such as navy blue or black for both men and women. One should avoid “loud” or flamboyant colors whenever possible. This is especially important for suits worn by men. In Japan, the Japanese mafia (known as the Yakuza in Japanese) are known for their flashy suits and tacky clothing. Thus, wearing outrageous colors in a business setting can be perceived as extremely negative due to possible mafia ties with the clothing style in general. For men, dark colored suits should be a staple of your Japanese business apparel. In Japan, there is an idiom that states, "The Nail That Sticks Out Will Get Hit With The Hammer." This is a good rule of thumb and an insight into the fashion rationale in Japanese culture.
Key FactorsAnother key factor in a Japanese business dress code is the quality of the clothing materials as well. It’s ideal to invest in top quality materials and tailored suits to avoid looking sloppy. Class is the key here. The higher the class of the suit, the more professional the appearance. This in obviously not limited to Japan, but the Japanese pay extra attention to the quality and professional nature of business fashion. For women, this also means less revealing clothing, and fashion that is more professional than sexy.
Professional WardrobeA professional wardrobe is not limited to simply darker colors, but shoes too play a key role in achieving this look. One should try to wear shoes that can be easily removed as you are likely to be presented with far more scenarios in Japan where shoe removal will be the norm. For women in a conservative business setting, flat shoes are recommended over high-heels. Jewelry and other fashion accessories should be limited in nature to avoid appearing gaudy or tasteless.
Casual Attire Allowed?Casual business attire is something not advised in for proper Japanese business etiquette. Here in the West, we may often have business meetings where casual clothing is not frowned upon. However, this is not the case for Japan. Casual clothing should be avoided in all business meetings and professional settings. That is not to say, however, that the Japanese never wear casual attire. Casual clothing in Japan can often be seen in after hours “business” gatherings such as karaoke clubs, izakayas, and other non-work related venues. But this is the exception to the rule. They key rule in Japanese business dress code is to remember, the more conservative, the better.
To get an idea of what some Japanese business cards look like when fully translated and localized into Japanese, please visit our Japanese business card translation samples page.
Video on the Etiquette of Exchanging Business Cards in Asia:There are many dos and don'ts for exchanging business cards in Asia. In this video you will learn the proper ways to conduct a business card exchange in Asia. This etiquette & exchange video covers the proper way to present, receive, and observe Asian business cards.
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