April 14, 2020

How To Meet-and-Greet In The Age Of Social Distancing – A Japanese Way

My first experience with the emerging new etiquette of eliminating physical contact was at a friend’s house about two months ago. “We aren’t supposed to hug anymore. Air hug,” she said as soon as she opened the door for me. We air-hugged then air-kissed.

bow illustration 1

Within a few weeks, no-touch greetings became a rapidly growing movement around the world. People are getting creative about saying “hi” with bumping elbows and tapping feet, or adopting one of those many other unique suggestions that are popping up online, such as secret dancing and giving finger guns & a wink.

creative greetingsLeft image by mariedera    Right image  by William Kriege via Flickrr

Japanese culture has always greeted each other warmly, without touching each other, with a bow. Bowing is not only a basic formality in Japan, it is a very expressive body language that is a big part of communication and sometimes speaks more than words. We think now is the good time to introduce the idea to the world!

bow 8

A bow can take on many meanings. It is used to say hello and goodbye, express gratitude and apology, ask for a favor and convey sympathy. It is seen in the office, in class, in shops, in the street, even from people on their phones. There is a study that shows a Japanese person bows more than twenty times in a typical day!

ceremonyFamily members bowing to the guardian god to purify the building site of their house at Jichin-sai. 


weddingBride and groom bowing to their guests

Though a bow is so commonly used and its motion looks simple, there are unwritten manners and hidden nuances that quite a few people in Japan feel they are not bowing properly. (I am one of them. I tried to improve my bow in front of a mirror after my manners teacher had described my bow as “an odd-shaped cucumber.” After twenty years I still do not feel right about my bow.)

But here in the U.S. and outside of Japanese culture, we can only implement the practical and favorable aspect of bowing. We are sharing four basic rules that make your bow natural and appropriate.

bow illustration

- Don’t multitask. (Put your phone down.)
- Do it with good posture. (Arms on the side or in front.)
- Look at your shoes. (No eye contact with the other person(s) while bowing.)
- Longer, deeper bow means more respect. (But don’t overdo it!)

Knowing there basic rules, you can give and receive bows when you have a chance to visit Japan. Because most Japanese do not expect foreigners to know proper bowing rules, showing you have made that effort will earn you considerable goodwill from the locals!



October 15, 2020

It is always fun to start thinking about the holidays! These festive Chigiri-e holiday motifs are sure to fill your heart with cheer. They are sophisticated enough to give as gifts and beautiful enough to be displayed proudly in your home.


The World of Chirimen Hand-Sewing Craft by Nobuko Naito

October 13, 2020

Nobuko Naitoa popular creator of Chirimen crafts, lives in a quaint traditional-Japanese style home in Himeji, Hyogo. The annex to the main building is her spacious atelier which Naito fills with Chirimen art of dolls, animals, flowers, ornaments and decorations.


New in Store: Christmas Rose and Strawberries

October 9, 2020

Exciting news: New Chigiri-e motifs are here!
The temperature is dropping, leaves are changing colors, and you are starting to spend more time inside. It’s a lovely time to get to crafting!


Etegami in Praise of Fall by Sachiko Hanashiro

October 6, 2020

The fall is in the air! The turning of the season captivates people by its beauty and melancholy.


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