Japanese bowing -a part of Japanese life-

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Bowing is a part of Japanese life that affects every situation, When we greet, thank or apologize to other people, we usually don’t look them in the eye. We lower our head instead.

Many of us probably don’t know why we bow, but we do it automatically. At first it was not an expression of greeting or respect, but a sign to show other people that we were not the enemy. In one theory, over the long term, the meaning of this custom has changed to its present style of communicating a sense of respect.

Examples of bowing

At schools, teachers and students exchange bows repeatedly every day. At department stores, the store clerks bow deeply to customers. In business situations, people often exchange bows repeatedly. Family members bow deeply in front of ancestor’s graves.

Some people bow over the phone. Some bow when shaking hands. Many bow to the food in front of them saying “itadakimasu”, or even the empty plates.

People are not the only ones who bow. Some signboards at construction area have images of construction workers bowing. The screen on ATM machines display anime images of bank employees bowing. The guides on GPS screens bow as well.

I’ve seen some other countries that have a bowing custom too. People in ancient Europe bowed to the king or queen, didn’t they? Can you think of any other cases?

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