Kanji of the Day: 名 (めい/みょう/な) mei/myō/na (name)

If you are familiar with the Japanese business culture, you know that doing 名刺交換 (meishi kōkan), or business card exchange, right is a pretty big deal. It is one of the first things companies teach you when you first start working, and if you do not follow all the rules you could give very poor impression. I have personally met or worked with both American and Japanese business people, and it’s quite shocking to see how differently they treat the practice: while Americans use 名刺 (meishi), or a business card, as a tool to exchange contact information, most Japanese treat it as the person whom it came from, and thus consider 名刺交換 as a sacred ritual in which they can show their respect and care to the other person.


You can probably search the web to find out all the detailed information on the whole procedure, but here are some of the very basic tips I picked up:

  • Get a decent business card holder!
    Always remember that a business card is like a person. So when you receive a business card from someone, you will place it on your business card holder. Think business card holders as a “cushion” or “pillow” for the person to sit 🙂 When you exchange your business cards with more than one person, you do not stuck them all on one business card holder. Instead, place them on the table, following the same seating order of the people who gave you the business cards. For instance, A, B, and C gave you business cards, and they are seated C, B, and A, you also have to lay their business cards like C, B, and A. Do you get it?
  • Do not put away the business cards until the end of meeting!!
    In most cases, you exchange business cards at the beginning of your first meeting with the person. After you exchange cards, do not put them away immediately. Instead, put them on your business card holder or table, like I explained above. you can put all the business cards away when the meeting is done.
  • When exchanging, hold your business card with both hands!
    When you are handing your business card, hold it with both hands like shown in the picture below. If the other person is in a higher position than you are, you should let the other person take your card first, and then take his/her card. Also, don’t forget to look him/her in the eye when you take his/her card, and smile and say thank you.


These are a few of the rules of 名刺交換, but if you successfully follow all the tips I mentioned above, you should be good to go and hopefully  your Japanese boss will be impressed by your 名刺交換 skills 😉

Please let us know if you would like to know more about these business related topics.

Good luck studying!!

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Post by nanami

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