Meishi Koukan: Buisiness card exchanging tradition in Japan.

     Japan is a land of unique traditions and cultures. Moreover, we could see that Japanese always care about greeting each other. As greetings are very important in Japan, there are some manners we should keep while making a greeting. The greetings like Ohayou, Konnichiwa, Kombanwa, Hajimemashite, Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu etc. are some of the commonly used words among the people while wishing each other or meeting a person for the first time in Japan. The tradition of bowing is associated with most greetings rather than shaking the hands as seen in the western traditions. But there is some different etiquette that should be kept among the businessmen while in Japan.
If you are working in Japan or coming to Japan for some business needs, you must be aware of this. When meeting a person for the first time in Japan, it is common to say ‘Hajimemashite’ (Nice to meet you) and introduce yourselves along with another greeting word ‘Yoroshuku Onegaishimasu’ (Have a nice time with you). But in the case of business related meetings, you must have to do something more. That is, exchanging the Meishi or the Business card with the other person along with a self-introduction.
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The business card or the Meishi consists of the information like your name, designation, telephone number, official address, email id etc. along with the company name on it. Rather than introducing yourselves by telling your name and details to a person when you meet the first time, a business card can do much more. It will be difficult for the other person to remember your details with a first-time introduction. So Meishi can do it for you. It is a written information about you provided by yourselves to let the other person remember you and make him able to keep in contact with you without any complications. We could see various designs of business cards.
There are some basic manners to be kept while handing over the business card in Japan. You should take one of your cards carefully holding it and keep it in such a manner that the other person could see your name on the card while receiving it. That is, it should be directed towards the other person. And care should be taken not to cover the letters on the card with your fingers while passing it over. You should keep an appropriate distance from the other person and give your card to him with both the hands holding the uppermost tips of the card along with making a gentle bow.
It is always the person of higher rank who exchanges his card first. Most Japanese offices and firms have superior officials of higher ages, but it sometimes differs. Based on if you are the customer or the service provider your rank among a group may differ. If you are the higher official, you are supposed to start your turn first. Otherwise, you must wait for the other one to do their turn. Once you receive the card from the other person, you should carefully receive it using both hands, make a look at it eagerly and should try to remember the name on the card. Meanwhile, you should have to hand over your own business card to that person in a similar manner.
Whenever you go for a business meeting or other official needs, you should keep the required number of business cards with you. Japanese always store their business cards in special cases apart from the money wallet. Always keep a special card case to store your Meishi and care should be taken to carry it with you. There are many kinds of convenient cases available in Japan for keeping the Meishi. Once you receive the cards from others, keep it on your card holder over your desk until the meeting is over. You should keep the received Meishi with you for further correspondence. Care should be taken in handling the received Meishi. You must not write any notes over the cards or throw it away or fold it or damage it in any manner. Doing anything like this is considered as a very rude attitude among the Japanese business society. It should be kept with you very safely in the card holder.