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Japanese Business Practices - Seating and Position Order


Hello everyone. Thank you for joining me for this video on Japanese Business Etiquette. This video focuses on where to sit and stand in business settings.

In Japan, different positions in a room convey different levels of respect. People who are shown respect-- because of their age, status, or job title-- are offered the best position in the room.

Kamiza (0:48)
This position is called the 'Kamiza' and dates back to the 13th century.

Traditional Japanese rooms have a raised space by the wall where scrolls are hung, and flowers or art are displayed.

The seat closest to this space is the ‘Kamiza’ and is reserved for the most important person. It is considered to be the most comfortable, secure spot, with the least distractions.

The importance of Kamiza was solidified in the warring states period between the 15th and 16th century. Since this seat was the furthest from the door, it provided the most protection from enemy intruders.To this day, the 'Kamiza' is reserved for the most important person in the room, even in modern western style rooms.

In Japanese work situations, visitors are shown the most respect. Visitors, regardless of the purpose of their visit, should be offered the 'Kamiza'. If there are multiple visitors, the 'Kamiza' should be offered to the person with the highest job title.

Business settings (2:03)
Let's have a look at three common business settings: a meeting room, taxi and elevator.

In a meeting room, the visitors should sit on the side furthest away from the door. In this image, no. 1 is the 'Kamiza'. It should be offered to the visitor with the highest job title. The person with the highest job title from the host side should sit facing the person in the 'Kamiza'.

In a taxi, the 'Kamiza' is the seat considered the safest. This is the seat behind the driver.

When there are multiple people, sit in order of job title based on this image. Let me give you an example, if there are 3 guests and 1 host. 3 guests should sit in seats #1 to 3 in order of their job title.

Seat #1 is the highest, next highest seat is the other side next to the left door. And a person from host side should sit in the front seat next to the driver.

In an elevator, the 'Kamiza' is against the back wall on the same side as the elevator buttons. The host should occupy the position in front of the elevator buttons to control the elevator.

Those were 3 common examples of workplace settings. However, not every business situation will neatly match those examples. When you are in doubt of where to sit or stand, follow these 3 guidelines:

Guidelines (3:48)
First, hosts should ask for guests preferences. If guests have preferred seat, 'Kamiza' can be changed to any seat for their preferences.

Second, guests should face to the focal point. This could be a monitor, a nice view, or a stage. If there is a monitor on the right side of the room, 'Kamiza' can be changed from the seat #1 to the #3.

Third, hosts should consider the guests comfort. For examples, In Japan, we drive on the left side of the road. A visitor with mobility issues may prefer to sit in seat #2 so it is easier to enter and exit the taxi.

The concept of 'Kamiza' is an important component of Japanese business etiquette. Understanding 'Kamiza' allows you to properly show respect, and recognize when you are being shown respect. It is a foundation upon which you can build a good business relationship.

If you are interested in this topic and want to know more about doing business in Japan, please contact us by phone or email. Thank you for listening to this video.

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