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Lesson Transcript


Becky: Hello, and welcome to JapanesePod101.com. This is Introduction to Business Culture, Lesson 4, Bowing Rules. In this lesson, we’ll teach you the etiquette for a perfect bow. I’m Becky.
Risa: ...and I’m Risa.
Becky: I think that people across the world have a perception that Japanese people bow very often.
Risa: We do! Bowing is generally called お辞儀 (o-jigi).
Becky: Bowing can represent many things, such as greetings, thanks, respect, and apologies. It’s also important if you want to conduct business in the appropriate way. In fact, knowing bowing etiquette is essential for anyone involved in the Japanese business world.
Risa: Yes, you must know how to bow beautifully.
Becky: Since bowing is essential for Japanese business, in this lesson, we’ll learn the correct way of bowing.
Risa: We will explain the type and meaning of the bows.
Becky: And also how to do them!
Lesson Focus.
Becky: Let’s start with the types of bow and their purposes. It is said that there are three bows.
Risa: That’s right, we have 会釈 (eshaku), 敬礼 (keirei), and 最敬礼 (saikeirei).
Becky: First of all, you can distinguish them by their angles of inclination. The simplest of these is the first one Risa mentioned.
Risa: Eshaku. You bow 15 degrees.
Becky: Let’s talk about when we need it.
Risa: There are three main situations.
Becky: The first, is when passing someone in the corridor.
Risa: The second, is when you bump into a stranger.
Becky: And the third is when giving way to someone.
Becky: Let’s move on to the second of the three bows.
Risa: Keirei is the the most important bow in business.
Becky: It is done at a 30-degree angle, and you will see it in many situations. Risa, can you tell us the most common?
Risa: Again, there are three.
Becky: What’s the first one?
Risa: When you introduce yourself.
Becky: The second is when you greet your customers. And the final situation is...
Risa: ...when entering or leaving a conference room.
Becky: Now, let’s hear about the third and final type of bow.
Risa: This is Saikeirei, the most polite bow.
Becky: This is at a 45-degree angle, so it is the lowest of the three bows. What are the three situations when we should use this one, Risa?
Risa: You can use it when greeting a very important customer.
Becky: You can also use it when asking about important matters.
Risa: You should use it also when apologizing.
Becky: Now that we know that there are three different types of bows, we can learn how to bow properly.
Risa: Posture is very important.
Becky: Make sure that your posture is straight and in line, and face the person to whom you want to bow.
Risa: Stand on your heels, and do not arch your back.
Becky: Try to bring down your upper body while moving from the waist, so that your back remains straight. Also, keep your neck straight. Risa, where should you look when bowing?
Risa: When you bow, you shouldn't keep looking at the person.
Becky: If your back and neck are in a straight line as you bend, you will naturally come to look at the floor, and this is the correct place to look.
Risa: But, when doing eshaku, you can keep looking at the other person!
Becky: Where should you put your hands when bowing?
Risa: It’s different for men and women.
Becky: Okay. Where do women usually put their hands?
Risa: Usually, in front of their body.
Becky: And how about men?
Risa: Men keep their hands on both sides of the body.
Becky: Ok, now, I think we should also see what a bad bow looks like. If we know what a bad bow is, we can make sure that we avoid doing one!
Risa: That’s a good idea!
Becky: What are the top 3 bad ways of bowing?
Risa: That’s easy. The first, is when doing keirei and your face is facing forward.
Becky: Remember to keep in line and your face angled down. What is the second bad way?
Risa: Lowering and raising your head too quickly.
Becky: And the third?
Risa: Bowing while moving.
Becky: Yes, be sure to stop when you bow!
Risa: Actually, you can do eshaku while walking.
Becky: But not the other two bows?
Risa: No. You have to stop when doing keirei and saikeirei.
Becky: Otherwise, it will be seen as rude, and that defeats the purpose of bowing in the first place.
Risa: Also, in Japanese culture, we do not normally put our hands together in prayer.
Becky: A friend of mine does that before and after meals, though.
Risa: That’s okay, but in business situations, we rarely put our hands together.


Becky: Those are the key facts about bowing correctly. If you want to find the related Japanese keywords, make sure to check out the lesson notes. Okay, that’s all for this lesson. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time.
Risa: Bye!