When we visit Japan, we might get overwhelmed on “Japanese bending” in every occasion. Sometimes we also have some confusions when to bend seeing Japanese are always bending everywhere. The Japanese name for this bending tradition is called, “Ojigi”. Japanese will bend to greet someone, asking a favor, saying sorry or showing respect. It is a very essential and basic thing. Indeed, it is not the end of the world when you introduce yourself by shaking hand. However, local people are much comfortable to begin this by bowing rather than grab someone hands. It is not because they are unable to do it, but it is better to know the culture of a country.
This Japanese culture began to start around Asuka and Nara periods (538-794 AD) along with Buddhism introduction. This now becomes the most important culture should be adapted by people who visits Japan. Indeed, It might Japan will not ignore foreigner who tries to shake a hand, but it is suggested to learn the Japanese Culture to ease the communication around Japanese. You might not use shake hands or hi-five when you are starting to live with Japanese. Bowing will be more used.
Note that the way of bowing for men and women is different. When men do bowing, they have to put each hand beside their thigh. Meanwhile, the women will put hands in front of the thigh. Bowing defines the situation. There are several types of it which stand for several social level.
How Japanese Culture Defines Bowing by The Social Status
Some bowing types are as follows:
1. Light Bow
The light bow, Eshaku, is used for respecting, thanking and saying sorry to a friend. But, someone with higher status has commonly used this type of bowing.
2. Medium Bow
Medium Bowing, Keirei, is used by bending the bone and head slightly in 30 degrees. It is used to say thanks and mostly used in business occasions.
3. “Deeply Reverend” Bow
The third one is Saikeirei, bowing in 45 degrees to show grateful, deep respect, deepest apologize, asking help and many more.
For your information, Japanese will bow even though they are talking in the telephone to show respect. Besides, the shopkeepers also do the same thing for customers. In this case, you no need to reply with the same bow, because they are paid for doing that. Bowing is also applied to train when leaving the station.
Bowing over and over again
In Japanese Culture, “Ojigi” is begun with the Saikeirei followed with the lightest of bowing type. They think they should reply the person who bows for them. That's why we will see them in some occasions bowing and bowing again.