In Japan, business lunches are an important part of building relationships with clients and colleagues. They’re also a great way to get to know Japanese culture and customs. If you’re new to Japan or are thinking about doing business there, here’s what you need to know about the Japanese business lunch from pros like Kavan Choksi Japan.
The Japanese Business Lunch Etiquette
There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to Japanese business lunch etiquette. First, always arrive on time. This is especially important if you’re meeting with a potential client. Secondly, it’s considered rude to start eating before everyone has been served, so be sure to wait for everyone at the table to have their food before digging in. Finally, try to avoid drinking too much alcohol. It’s perfectly acceptable to have one drink with your lunch, but getting drunk is considered bad form and will likely make your business associates lose respect for you.
What to Expect at a Japanese Business Lunch
A typical Japanese business lunch will usually consist of multiple courses, including sushi, sashimi, tempura, and grilled meats or fish. And, of course, no meal in Japan is complete without rice. Don’t worry if you can’t finish everything on your plate—it’s perfectly acceptable to leave food behind. In fact, it’s considered rude to clean your plate completely because it would imply that you were still hungry.
If you’re not used to eating such a large meal in the middle of the day, don’t worry—the pace is usually slow and leisurely, so there’s no need to hurry through your food. This gives you plenty of time to chat with your fellow diners and get to know them better.
What to Discuss (and What Not To) at a Japanese Business Lunch
As with any business meeting, there are certain topics that are best avoided at a Japanese business lunch. These include sensitive subjects like politics and religion. It’s also important to avoid discussing business during the meal—this is a time to build relationships, not to close deals.
Instead, try to focus on lighter topics such as hobbies, sports, or travel. And if you’re ever in doubt about what to say, simply ask your Japanese business associates about their families or lives outside of work.
Finally, remember that the Japanese place a great deal of importance on formalities and etiquette. So be sure to mind your manners and respect the customs of your Japanese hosts and colleagues. By doing so, you’ll make a good impression and will be well on your way to success in the Japanese business world.
After the Meal
Once the meal is finished, it’s time to move on to business. This is usually when deals are made, and contracts are signed. If you’re meeting with a potential client, this is your chance to make a good impression and seal the deal.
The Bottom Line
Japanese business lunches are a great way to build relationships with clients and colleagues while also getting a taste of the local culture. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be sure to make a good impression at your next business lunch in Japan!