The exchange of business cards, meishi, is an essential part of Japanese business etiquette. The business card ceremony begins after a person has introduced him/herself and bowed. You should offer the card with the Japanese side facing upwards toward the recipient and offering the card with both hands will demonstrate greater respect. The Japanese expect you to take the time to carefully read and memorize all pertinent information. Business cards are considered an extension of the individual.
Below are several common errors which should be avoided when exchanging cards:
- Do not stuff the card into your pocket like a Kleenex. That would be considered extremely rude. Take your time to read it and then put it into a business card holder.
- Do not make notes in blank areas of the card
- Do not bend or damage the business card in front of its owner. This is considered a direct insult.
- The card should not be cribbed to reconfirm the owner's name. This is considered extremely poor etiquette.
- There is no excuse for running out of business cards on a trip to Japan. Keep in mind that you may have to hand out as many as 40 or 50 cards at a larger meeting.
- Do not carry your cards loosely in a pocket. Carry them in a distinctive business card case.
Formatting of the Japanese Business Card
Traditionally, the vertical set-up was used for Japanese business cards. The horizontal layout has become the norm. Addresses are in a different order than in English. The country appears first, then the state, the city with the zip code in front, then the street address.