Chances are if you’re doing business in Japan, then you’re doing business in Tokyo. Often praised as the top tourists stop in Japan, the city has a distinct culture, vast history and omotenashi–a unique style of hospitality. The city is also a top Asian business destination with its own customs and etiquette. BlueOrange Travel, a New York City-based travel agent that specializes in corporate travel planning, is sharing everything you need to know for your next business trip to Tokyo, Japan.
Your Complete Tokyo Travel Guide
Before You Go
Before you even leave home, make sure you have plenty of business cards printed to take with you. Business cards, known as meishi in Japanese, are revered and given out at every meeting, especially on first-time visits. Present your card in a courteous manner using both hands with the printed side facing the recipient. If you are offered a card, receive it in the same way, and never fold or write on the card in front of the giver. You might consider preparing business cards in Japanese and English specifically for your trip.
Consider what you will pack carefully. Business attire in Tokyo is conservative and formal. Dark-colored suits are expected. Also consider packing plenty of new, solid socks and slip off shoes. You might be invited to a location that doesn’t allow shoes. Your socks should match your attire and be clean. Footwear that easily slips on and off will make you look prepared and professional.
Where to Stay
Tokyo is a large city, so plan where you stay carefully to be close to your business destinations. Access to the subway or walking distance to your client offices might be the best option to ensure you are never, ever late.
The Prince Sakura Tower Tokyo is just a three-minute walk from Shinagawa Station, a central transportation hub in the city. This hotel offers a serene respite to relax and unwind away from the bustle of the big city, especially in the stunning Zen garden. The staff typically speaks English and is known for flawless service.
Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel Tokyo is located in the heart of Ginza, an upscale shopping and business district. If room size is a priority for you, consider reserving a corner room that provides more space.
The Park Hyatt Tokyo offers a true luxury experience, sweeping views of the city and shuttle service to and from Shinjuku Station. This hotel is known for excellent hospitality and attentive staff, plus you can stay in a room with an unmatched view of Mt. Fuji.
Rush hour in Tokyo is even more intense than American rush hour. Between 8 and 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. each weekday, the streets, trains and city are full of business commuters. Because arriving on time (or 10 minutes early) is seen a good manners in Japan, preparing for rush hour is essential.
On the city’s trains and in the subway, passengers are often pressed against each other until they are immobile. Look for signs, lanes and station personnel that keep foot traffic moving. Avoid taking luggage with you on the trains during this time.
If you decide to take a taxi, during rush hour or anytime, have your destination written down in Japanese. You might not encounter a driver who speaks English, and this will ensure you reach your destination.
Business etiquette is essential in Tokyo. While you won’t be expected to know all of the etiquette rules, knowing some can make a lasting impression on colleagues. Hand shakes are a great way to introduce yourself, but you can also bow to your new acquaintance. Just avoid shaking hands and bowing at the same time. The longer and deeper the bow, the more reverence it shows, but 45-degrees is typical.
Keep your hands out of your pockets and off your phone during conversations. This shows that your focus is on the conversation and people in front of you and not on other subjects or issues. Avoid pointing with fingers, feet, chopsticks or anything. Pointing is especially rude in Japan. If you’re invited for drinks or dinner in Tokyo, accept the invitation. Often business is conducted after business hours and in a social setting. Drinks could be served, but it’s still important to maintain your level of professionalism.
Follow BlueOrange Travel’s advice on your next business trip with this Tokyo travel guide. Contact us to start planning your corporate travels to Japan and Asia.