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How to Entertain and Impress Japanese Business Partners and Clients

Japanese culture is very different from American culture, and to do business with Japanese partners and clients it’s essential to be familiar with it. For those who intend to take a Japanese business partner or client for a meal, it is important to know the proper dining etiquette rules.

Proper etiquette makes a big impression in the Japanese culture. Often, breaking etiquette rules signifies lack of preparation and a lack of seriousness and this can damage trust.

Here are a few dining etiquette tips and suggestions to make your next meal with a Japanese client or partner a positive experience.

Proper Japanese Dining Etiquette

  • Know the seating protocol: The person with senior status is seated at the head of the table opposite of the entrance.
  • Follow the unofficial dress code: Men should opt for conservative business suits. Women are encouraged to avoid heels and wear minimal jewelry.
  • Use chopsticks correctly: Study the proper way of using chopsticks before your meal and practice beforehand. Do NOT point them at anyone while talking, use them to point at your food (even if you’re complimenting the meal), rub your chopsticks, play with them or stab the food with them.
  • Use the towel provided only for your hands: Do not use it on your face or to clean anything else.

Foods and Beverages to Impress

An excellent way to impress Japanese business associates is with food that is true to their culture. Here are a few staple dishes and drinks that we serve here at Matsuhisa.

  • Sake
    • Cold: Nigori (unfiltered)
    • Warm: Junmai
  • Lunch
    • Donburi: Ikura Uni (Japanese sea urchin)
    • Negitoro sushi roll
  • Dinner
    • Yellowtail tataki, yuzo-miso
    • Matsuhisa signature-style sashimi – Tai Dry Miso

Unspoken Rules

In the Japanese culture, as in many others, there are unspoken rules that are wise to follow. While these things may not seem like a big deal to Americans, they can leave a less-than-favorable impression if not followed correctly.

  • Do not blow your nose in front of people: Sniffling to avoid blowing your nose is allowed. If blowing your nose is a must, leave the room to do so.
  • Do not greet others with a kiss: When greeting others, use a formal 30-degree bow or deeper if the situation is very formal. Also, greet every person in a group individually.

Make a Great Impression: Visit Matsuhisa

For your next business or power lunch, consider visiting Matsuhisa for a delicious meal that will impress your Japanese partners and clients. At Matsuhisa, we offer the perfect environment for both professionalism and fun. Our restaurant features a private dining area for your discretion and, of course, we serve delicious foods to satisfy you and your clients.


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