Considering doing business in Japan?

Japan covers an area of just over 377.000 km2. Compared, it is almost 4 times the size of Hungary or slightly less than the size of the U.S. state of Montana. Japan is the 18th largest country in Asia.

Verbio specializes in international trade, multicultural marketing, and multilingual communications, so we assembled cultural tips and trade info to help you explore new markets:

  • Country: Japan
  • Capital: Tokyo
  • Largest City: Tokyo
  • Currency: Japanese yen (¥)
  • Population: 125,416,877 (Jan 2023)
  • Languages: The official language of Japan is Japanese. Japanese is the most widely spoken language in the country, and it is the native language of most of the population. Additionally, there are some regional dialects spoken in different parts of Japan.

While Japanese is the primary language, English is also taught in schools, and many Japanese people, especially in urban areas and industries with international exposure, may have some proficiency in English. However, the level of English proficiency can vary widely among individuals.

It’s worth noting that Japan has a rich linguistic history, and various writing systems, including kanji (characters of Chinese origin), hiragana, and katakana, are used in the Japanese writing system. Kanji plays a significant role in written Japanese.

Learn what other languages Verbio works with:


Good To Know When Venturing In Japan
If you find yourself getting prepared to go to a business meeting in Japan there are a few cultural customs that aren’t expected of foreigners but would surely impress your hosts!

  • Punctuality to the minute in Japan is very important, expect it the cultural norm to show up early.
  • Business card culture is alive and well in Japan. It’s commonly the first thing done in a business meeting. It’s important that when handing anything to your new Japanese contacts you take care to use both hands and make sure the item is facing them.
  • You may have heard of bowing in Japan, but it’s important if you’re going to attempt it- to get it right. Japanese people bow at the waist at a 45-degree angle and you can do this while handing your business card to show the most amount of respect! Handshakes are natural too so don’t feel afraid to offer one after.
  • You may notice during your conversation it feels like they are interrupting you with small noises and exclamations- this is not the case. Active Listening is a very important cultural custom in Japan, it shows that you are actively involved in the conversation, so remember to nod often and feel free to add in some ‘mm’s and ‘I see’ as well!
  • When given a compliment it is expected you will reject it, it shows you are humble which is a very important virtue in Japan.

Eating a Meal with a Japanese Guest
Meals in Japan come with a lot of cultural customs but to wow your guest with your Japanese knowledge there are a few things you should know:

  • First off you should always expect to pour the other person’s drink, do not serve yourself first. If you don’t want to drink much keep your glass full, an empty glass is asking for a refill.
  • Before your start eating, a cultural custom is to say the phrase “いただきます!” (itadakimasu- thank you for this meal) but it is important you wait to eat until the highest-ranking person has started.
  • If you need to rest while eating, never put your chopsticks on your plate, it’s the equivalent of putting your napkin on it in the west, it signals you are done eating and can be unintentionally rude. Instead, there should be a holder for your chopsticks to rest on.
  • Finally, when you are done with your meal it is custom to say “ごちそうさまでした” (gochisou sama deshita).


  • ​The Japanese language has different levels of politeness. Using polite language, especially when addressing strangers or those in a higher social or professional position, is important. There are specific honorifics and expressions for formal situations.
  • Japanese people generally value personal space and may stand at a greater distance during conversations compared to some Western cultures.
  • Public spaces like public transportation and restaurants are often quiet. So, it’s a good idea to keep your voice low in public places and use your phone discreetly to avoid disturbing others.
  • Japanese people are known for their orderly and patient behavior when it comes to waiting in line. Whether waiting for public transportation or in line at a store, be sure to wait your turn.
  • Being aware of and respectful toward these cultural practices can help you navigate social situations more smoothly.
Japan - Mount Fiji

Mount Fiji (富士山, Fujisan)

Mount Fuji is with 3776 meters Japan’s highest mountain. Active volcano, which most recently erupted in 1707. It stands on the border between Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures and can be seen from Tokyo and Yokohama on clear days.

Shibuya Shopping District - Japan

Shibuya – Tokyo’s Most Fashionable District

Shibuya is a popular shopping district within Tokyo where you can find a variety of places for entertainment and recreation such as shopping malls, restaurants and bars, karaoke centers, and more.


How to say it:


  • Hello: こんにちは (pronounced konnichiwa)​
  • Nice to meet you: どうぞ宜しく (pronounced douzo yoroshiku)
  • Do you speak English? – 英語ができますか (eigo ga dekimasuka)
  • Please: お願いします (pronounced onegaishimasu)
  • Thank you: ありがとう (pronounced arigatou)
  • Goodbye: さようなら (pronounced sayonara)
  • How much is this?: これはいくらですか  (pronounced Kore wa ikura desu ka?)
Guanajuato - Mexico

Tokyo is not only the capital of Japan as well as its largest city, but it also has the largest population of any metropolis in the world. The city seems to continue beyond its official, political boundaries and is home to Japan’s largest international community.

Do you seek help with strategy and communications to identify and negotiate with a new manufacturer or distributor? Verbio can help.



Leading services exports from the U.S. to Japan were in the transportation, intellectual property, and financial services sectors. The United States had a services trade deficit of an estimated $2.4 billion with Japan in 2022.


Top U.S. imports from Japan are autos, auto parts, and electronics.


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Japanese cuisine is renowned for its emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients, artful presentation, and a delicate balance of flavors. It has evolved over centuries, influenced by both traditional Japanese beliefs and external cultural elements.

Here are some key aspects of Japanese cuisine:

  • #1 Rice – A staple in Japanese cuisine, rice is served with almost every meal. Short-grain Japonica rice is commonly used and is the basis for dishes like sushi and onigiri (rice balls).

  • #2 Fish and Seafood – Japan is an island nation surrounded by oceans, so seafood plays a crucial role. Sushi, sashimi (sliced raw fish), and grilled or simmered fish are popular dishes. The Japanese also consume a variety of seafood, including squid, octopus, shrimp, and clams.

  • #3 Noodles – There are several types of Japanese noodles, such as udon (thick wheat noodles), soba (buckwheat noodles), and ramen (Chinese-style wheat noodles). These noodles are often served in soups or stir-fried.

  •  #4 Soy Sauce and Miso – Soy sauce, made from fermented soybeans, wheat, salt, and water, is a fundamental condiment in Japanese cuisine. Miso, another fermented soybean product, is used to make miso soup and various sauces.

  • #5 Tea – Green tea, particularly matcha (powdered green tea), is an integral part of Japanese culture. It is not only consumed as a beverage but is also used in traditional tea ceremonies.

  • Vegetables – Seasonal vegetables are a significant component of Japanese dishes. Pickled vegetables (tsukemono) are often served as a side dish. Common vegetables include daikon radish, seaweed, bamboo shoots, and various greens.

  • Tofu and Soy Products – Tofu, made from soybeans, is a versatile ingredient in Japanese cooking. It can be grilled, boiled, or added to soups. Other soy products, such as soy milk and yuba (tofu skin), are also used.

  • Tempura – Tempura is a popular Japanese dish where seafood or vegetables are coated in a light batter and deep-fried. It was introduced to Japan by Portuguese missionaries in the 16th century.

  • Okonomiyaki – Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake that translates to “grilled as you like it.” It is made with a batter of flour, grated yam, shredded cabbage, and other ingredients like meat, seafood, or cheese. The mixture is cooked on a griddle, then topped with okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, bonito flakes, and seaweed powder.

Japanese cuisine reflects a deep respect for nature, a commitment to seasonality, and an emphasis on the aesthetic presentation of food. It has gained international acclaim for its unique flavors and culinary artistry.

Sources: – – Wikipedia


“​千里の道も一歩から (senri no michi mo ippo kara)”
― Japanese Proverb

This Japanese proverb means that it takes a series of steps to achieve success. For example, mastering the Japanese language is not easy, but you get closer to the advanced level with small daily steps.

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