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     Japanese Etiquette - Gestures

The Japanese do not use extremely aggressive or assertive gestures. Use caution when making presentations or during conversations.

Some Common Gestures

  • A negative response is indicated by fanning the right hand in front of the face, as if brushing away a fly
  • Nodding is very common which indicates you are listening and understanding the speaker
  • To indicate oneself, the Japanese point to their nose
  • The sign for money is the "okay" sign in the US
  • A man can be symbolized by our "thumbs up" sign. However, use caution-this can refer to a woman's lover, a father, or the president of the company
  • A woman can be symbolized by sticking up the pinkie finger. Depending on the situation, this can mean a man's lover
  • Eating is demonstrated by holding an imaginary bowl in the left hand and making a motion with the right as if shoveling rice into the mouth with chopsticks.
  • Let's go drinking can be signaled by lifting an imaginary sake cup with the index finger and thumb
  • Calling or beckoning someone to you is done European-style, with the palm facing downward
  • Excuse me, used when walking between or in front of someone is indicated by a moving hand repeatedly in front of the face
  • Embarrassment, shyness or modesty is shown by women by covering the mouth. Women also cover the mouth with the hand when laughing
  • Indicating someone is crazy is done with the fist next to your head, level with the ear, and then releasing the fist suddenly

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