Language is a Concept: Formal Greeting-Aisatsu

Nov 25, 2020Blog, Culture, Language Study

Language is a Concept-Formal: Greeting-Aisatsu

Japan’s traditional etiquette continues to be one of the most structured, refined, and sophisticated patterns of behaviour ever imposed on any people. From infancy, the Japanese were trained physically and verbally on how to behave in the prescribed Japanese manner.

An example of instilling important behaviours upon the Japanese would be how babies have transitionally been carried by the Japanese. An “ombuhimo” is where the baby is strapped to the back so one can use the hands freely. Going about the day, the Japanese greet each other with a bow, thus the baby is also instilled with this important cultural protocol, as they too by default, are bowing to the other  party while strapped to the back.  


Being trained in proper etiquette and behaviour protocol is indeed an integral part of being Japanese right out of the starting gate. 

Moreover, not behaving in the prescribed manner is a serious fail and could get one ostracized (read about the gravity of being ostracized in the Mask post here), if not eliminated from the earth forever.

The rules and forms involved in aisatsu are specially important between inferiors and superiors. The higher the rank of an individual, the more detail the prescribe manner of greeting him or her, the more rigorous behaviour was enforced, and of course this is true today as it ever was.

The first Occidentals to show up in Japan noted that the behaviour of the typical Japanese was the kind one might expect of royalty. One also recalls being treated in a royal manner in many situations even until this very day. However, for the Japanese, these polite, and to the Occidental mind somewhat strange behaviours, are culturally a matter of course.

Perry's Black Ship

The youth of Japan continue to absorb these important cultural conventions by witnessing it among adults as they grow up, and most of the traditional forms of etiquette are still followed by adults, particularly in formal situation.

Occidentals who really wants to “fit in“ in to Japan must learn a number of these crucial forms of aisatsu, and the formal greeting that takes place in the business world during New Year’s and on numerous other auspicious occasions, from weddings to funerals. 

One can not understate the importance of understanding and adhering to these crucial social conventions, so as to make one’s relationship with the Japanese counterparts respectful and proper. 

Even more so, while making the appropriate greeting following these Japanese protocols, one also can understand one’s own position in the most curious world of Japanese society.

Proper Bowing Technique-02