The Reasons Why Japanese Bow

Bowing in Japan

Have you been keeping up with the FIFA World Cup? Many people across the world were taken aback by the Japanese manager’s deep bow after the team lost to Croatia.

When the pictures went viral, one of my friends from Brazil texted me, "Was he apologizing because they lost the game?"

I said, “No, he wasn’t apologizing. He bowed to the fans to show his gratitude.”

Bowing is so engrained in our communication style. Even when we are on the phone and the other person cannot see us, we frequently bow.

Bowing can show many different feelings in Japan, including appreciation, respect, deep regret, or even sense of shame. And it is done to show respect. We learn the etiquette of bowing from a very young age. Since the first grade, every class starts and ends with a bow. Japanese companies often teach their young employees how to bow properly in business situations.

Here is how you can bow in Japanese style. Bend at the waist, keep your back and neck straight, feet together, and gaze downward. Men usually bow with their hands and arms at their sides, while women bow with their hands and arms in front. The deeper the bow and the longer it is held, the more respect are shown.

Bowing is such an essential part of communication in Japanee society. People greet each other by bowing, and say good by bowing. News anchors bow to the audience before beginning their broadcast. Even construction site signs have an image of a worker bowing. I don’t think it’s possible for us to go through a day without bowing!

Construction Site Sign in Japan

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