Japan Love #1: The Art of Bowing

Dear Reader,

Tokiko is a Japanese lady based in Guadalajara. She teaches Japanese and loves Mexican food. She says she likes the corn interference with most of the dishes, which is quite unusual in her home cuisine.

Thing is 🙂 … I see her everyday so I have many many chances to ask her questions, share experiences, tell her how much I love Japan and how I would move there in a second!

One of my casual days in Tokyo.

She loves when people love her country so in return in our coffee moments she instructs me on important things I need to know in the event I move there. There are many things on the list but let’s start with the most important one: bowing.

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Ok it sounds easy. But after listening to her say on it… it isn’t as easy as you think.

I’m sure you have noticed that Japanese people bow at practically any occasion. Whether it’s about greeting a person, or apologising for something, a bow is always there. Believe it or not, there is an art and logic behind it: the more you bow, the more important and respectful it is.

Tokiko says that there three kinds of bow: Eshaku (会釈), Keirei (敬礼) and Saikeirei (最敬礼). Each one of this bow has a certain degree of “inclination”.

In the most informal settings and common greetings, you can use eshaku. With eshaku, the body takes a bow of about 15 degrees. It looks something like this:

The 3 kinds of bow you find in Japanese culture. Please note the angle of inclination in each situation.

Then there is Keirei. Keirei is a slightly more exaggerated inclination of the body. In the pictures you can see it with a 30 degrees inclination.
Keirei is what you do when you need to show a higher level of respect. Higher respect in Japan is shown towards senpai (先輩), someone who is of higher age, level or even class.
Is very common that school mates refer to the oldest of them as senpai. Also, students might refer to their teacher as senpai to show respect.

Another example of the bowing etiquettes. Notice how the head and looking direction of the person doesn’t change, the eyes keep fixed and the head remains straight.

And then we have the last kind of bow: Saikeirei. Seikeirei is the ultimate reverence gesture reserved for major occasions. You bow until 45 degrees of inclination (the fourth picture here above). This kind of bow is reserved for when you meet the CEO of your company, Prime Ministers and even the Emperor himself. Tokiko says that in such cases you need to stay inclined for at least 15 seconds to show the appropriate respect.
This kind of bow is also used for apologies. Apologies meant to mitigate disastrous situations: offending someone, destroying someone’s belongings, disrespect elders, etc.

Next post on this fantastic culture next week!


How to make your dreams come true: the Japanese Shinto ritual

Dear Reader,

I bet everyone you know would love to have a formula to make their wishes and dreams come true, and the sooner the better.
Well, Stanito, big Japan fan as she is, found the way to do it. The Shinto way to do it, to be more precise.
She found it for you in the outskirts of Tokyo in a mid-summer afternoon…

Continue reading “How to make your dreams come true: the Japanese Shinto ritual”

Katsudon talk

Stanito eating Katsudon Shibuya
Stanito in front of her Katsudon order which typically in Japan is sided by Misu Soup

© Stanito, 2013

Dear Reader,
small talk in Tokyo on a very hot summer night at midnight… I had landed couple of hours before and then I was starving and dreaming of one of my favourite Japanese dishes: katsudon!

Someone: “Katsu what?!”

Stanito: “Katsudon :O never heard of it?”

Someone: “No, what is it?” Continue reading “Katsudon talk”

Capsule Hotel in Tokyo

Dear reader,

we all know that if one is not careful with money, any place can be expensive.
So if you consider yourself a budget traveler like Stanito, why not choosing to enjoy Tokyo in a stylish and unique way without filing for bankrupcy?

There are great hotels in Tokyo, business hotels with all the amenities, but if you want to experience Japan in a much more special way, I suggest you skip all the regular steril hotels and instead go for the strangest accomodation you can imagine.

Welcome to the Capsule Hotel!

Stanito capsule hotel adventure Tokyo© Stanito, 2013

So, what is a Capsule Hotel?
The Capsule Hotels are a fantastic idea of how to sleep well, perfect temperature, enjoy traditional super clean Japanese shared bathrooms, and the uniqueness of a place that is big enough to fit you and small TV. The one I stayed in is Asakusa Wasou.

Where did this fantastic idea come from?
It all happened on one rainy night. A Japanese business man was leaving late from the office and joined some colleagues in a cheap bar to relax and happy hour. The Japanese business man though got so drunk and felt so embarrassed that he didn’t want to go home like this to his wife. So he started wondering around the crowds of Tokyo looking for a cheap place where he could spend the night. No expensive hotels, no seedy motels either, until at some point he found a little place with several beds in a row. He spent just a few hundred yens and the place will later turn into the now known Capsule hotel for the joy of all those who are either drunk or miss the last train home.

I agree that they look like coffins but they’re cute and stacked on top of each other so that one room can have about 20 of them.

Stanito capsule hotel spot© Stanito, 2013

Privacy is provided by the little curtain that closes the space

Stanito capsule hotel space© Stanito, 2013

I could fit perfectly well all my necessary stuff, plus I even had a TV

Stanito capsule hotel© Stanito, 2013

The capsule comes with everything in: Wi-fi, a kimono-looking-like-pijama, bottled water, toothbrush, shampoo, conditioner, body soap, and even slippers. I had a Panasonic alarm inside as well and buttons to regulate light. In short, I had everything.

Walls are thin so be glad if your neighbors are quiete 🙂