Japanese Gestures That May Confuse Foreigners

【Koshida Accounting Firm Column Date:

Hi, my name is Taisei Koshida, and I am a certified public accountant and tax accountant.


I aim to assist non-Japanese business owners who need help with reading or writing in Japanese. If you find the Japanese tax return system challenging, I can help you with your tax filings.


This blog may help if you are unclear about Japanese Gestures.






If you’re starting a business in Japan, let me introduce some Japanese gestures that might confuse you.


Crossing Arms

In Western cultures, crossing arms might be perceived as a sign of hostility, but in Japan, it’s often done when someone is deep in thought. It doesn’t imply hostility.


Beckoning Gesture

While this might be interpreted as shooing someone away in Western cultures, in Japan, it actually means to invite or call someone over.


Raising An Arm with An Open Hand

While this gesture may be seen as taboo, especially in Europe, many Japanese are taught from a young age to raise their arm with an open hand. They do this without any malice.


Constant Smiling

In the Japanese business scene, it’s generally expected to maintain a smile. So, if a Japanese individual smiles in a situation where it might seem inappropriate, it’s not intended as an insult, unlike in some other cultures.




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