Japanese body language and gestures

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Clothing, gestures, posture, facial expressions… in each country there are marked cultural differences, whether in the way of dressing, behaving or communicating. the body language it will also vary from one end of the globe to the other. Supporting spoken language, japanese gestures they are often difficult for most Westerners to decipher.

Also, if you travel through the archipelago, you will quickly realize that courtesy in japan it is rigorous. Also, it’s best to learn good manners beforehand so you don’t seem like a rude gaijin (foreigner).

Let’s take a closer look at what the most common Japanese gestures correspond to:

? Greeting with a slight bow

say hello in japan

Are you sure you have already realized that the Japanese do not kiss or exchange handshakes? In Japanese culture, physical contact is excludedeven to greet each other. The Japanese tend to tilt the bust slightly forward keeping your arms alongside your body to show your respect. The bow varies from a simple head nod to a full bow, depending on the context and the hierarchical importance of the individual in front. Please note that this japanese traditional gesture It is used to say hello, goodbye and also to thank or apologize. Also, if you watch a Japanese person on the phone, you will probably see them bow, so ingrained is this habit.

counting on fingers in japanese

count in japan

It is clear that the inhabitants of the archipelago do nothing like the others… It is not that they have their toes, but instead of raising the fingers, they close them in the palms. Also, they can count to 9 with one hand. Too strong, right?

We explain: The open hand means 0, the bent thumb indicates 1; for 2, we add the index; on 3, we put the middle finger on it as well; On 4, we bend the first four fingers and the clenched fist means 5.

Then one or more fingers are raised for the next digits. For example, 6 is obtained by raising the little finger, hand closed; we add the directory for 7 and so on until 9. And 10 then? Just do a 1 with your left hand and a 0 with your other hand. do you follow me

? Talk about oneself showing the tip of the nose

show the tip of the nose

Source: livejapan.com

If in the middle of a conversation a Japanese points to the tip of his nose with his index fingerdon’t be surprised, he’s not kidding, no… It just means he’s talk about him. While Westerners instinctively put their hands to their chests, the inhabitants of the archipelago have the habit of showing their noses. This difference in body language can be quite amusing, especially when you’re not expecting it.

?️ say no with your body

scratch the neck

Know that in Japan, we will never say no directly, because it is not done. In fact, it is inconceivable to offend your interlocutor in the Land of the Rising Sun. On the other hand, we can use the expression I’ll see ” either ” It will be difficult… So how do you read between the lines and know if it’s real? not negative » ? Body language will make all the difference. men will tend to scratch the neck with a confused look. The Japanese fan his face with your handor he will turn his palms towards you with an embarrassed expression or a strained little smile.

?‍♀️ The gesture that says “impossible”

impossible gesture

As much as the Japanese do not like to say no at the risk of offending their interlocutor, both for show banthey don’t go there four ways. a cross with hands or forearms accompanied by a “lady” clearly means an impossibility. For example, you can see this posture when denying access to a restaurant that is full. With this perfectly explicit Japanese gesture, you can’t go wrong.

? call someone to come

gesture to invite

Source: likejapan.com

If they give you this signal, you may think that they are scaring you away when in fact the opposite is true. Shaking your hand from side to side with the palm facing down is a typical Japanese gesture to bring someone. Do you remember the Fameux maneki-neko, this figure of a cat raising its paw and making this movement, at the entrance of Japanese stores? in the archipelago, chinese lucky cat medium ” inviting cat ».

Walk through the crowd politely

break up the crowd

Source: bibliblog.net

This can be very useful in crowded subway stations or train stations in Tokyo: Politely ask people to let you pass, all you have to do is put your hand in profile, at face level, fingers clenched as if to split the crowd in two. So that you can make your way and move forward with your head and eyes lowered apologizing, so you don’t miss your subway or your train.

? The double meaning of the OK sign

gesture okay

Whereas in Western countries, the hand forming a circle with the thumb and forefinger means ” okay ” either ” everything is going well », « how to dive », this simple gesture can indicate that we are going to talk about money in Japan. Again, depending on the context, the OK sign can express “it’s okay” or announce that we are talking about money. In fact, the same symbol made with an arm horizontally represents the coin. So beware of misunderstandings!

? wave your hand in front of your nose

wave hand in front of nose

Source: likejapan.com

Body language in Japan can sometimes surprise tourists. Rest assured that if a Japanese person puts his hand to his nose and shakes it while you are talking to him, it does not mean that he will sneeze or that you will smell bad. it is rather a way to show you that he disagrees with what you say and who thinks differently from you.

✌️ The famous V sign facing the camera.

peace sign

If in the rest of the world stretching the index and middle finger up means ” victory » and represents a sign of peace dating from the end of the Second World War, this is not the case in the archipelago. In fact, this symbol comes from a pop icon who had reproduced this gesture during a photo shoot for the Konica brand. The Japanese also use the V to be more photogenic, as it would seem to result in a smaller head. We’ll let you try…

? Use both hands to give and receive.

give and take gesture

In Japan, there are several rules of courtesy that must be respected when offering someone a gift. For example, the latter should preferably be transported in a neutral bag to go unnoticed. The packaging must be impeccable. A gift should be offered in private and opened by itself. Equally, a gift is always presented and received with both hands. This shows the importance you give to this delicate care. If you only use one hand, it will look rude. Finally, it is common to bow to thank and show gratitude to the other.

You would have understood; when you visit a country with a culture very different from ours, non-verbal communication can be quite confusing. When misunderstood, body language can sometimes land you in awkward situations. That is why it is better to know these few Japanese gestures that will probably save you some mistakes.

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