Japan: IN View

Japan, IN View, Indianapolis

Indiana’s relationship with Japan 


Over the years Indiana has maintained and developed a strong relationship with Japan. In 1999, the Hoosier state established a sister-state relationship with Tochigi Prefecture. Since then, many Indiana cities have followed the state’s lead by establishing sister-city relationships throughout Japan. Hoosier-Japanese relations are enhanced further by the many business relationships and university partnerships that exist in our community. Indiana is the only state with all of the big three Japanese auto manufactures (Toyota, Honda, and Subaru).

Cultural Insight – Honorifics

In Japanese society, showing respect at all times is of critical importance. This is evident in the prolific use of honorifics in the Japanese language. The honorific O-, is used at the front of nouns when addressing family members, as in Otōsan (father) or Okāsan (mother). San, the most widely used honorific, comes at the end of names, such as Sato-san or Smith-san. Loosely translated as Mr., Ms., or Mrs., -san is used almost universally, even among peers. 

Hanami (Flower Viewing)

The International Center’s Marketing and Communications Intern, Remy Braconnot sat down with Ikue Shirayanagi, Relocation Services Coordinator, for an interview about Hanami, the Japanese custom of enjoying cherry blossoms.

Quick Tips on Proper Japanese Protocol & Etiquette 

• Do address the eldest or most senior member of the group first, especially when making introductions. Respect for age and status should be observed. 

• Don’t place a business card into your wallet and then put it in your back pocket after receiving it. Care should be given when receiving a business card. 

• Do use your entire hand to gesture rather than just your index finger. Finger pointing is an abrasive gesture.

• Don’t use idioms or slang when speaking to your counterparts. Along with humor, idioms and slang can complicate communication across culture. 

• Do make sure that your gifts are nicely wrapped. In Japan, most department stores have wrapping services. There are many nuances to gift giving in Japan. Be sure to consult an expert so that you make the best impression.

RB: When does Hanami take place in Japan?

IS:The time varies from place to place depending on the climate. Japan is a long country that runs North and South, so it can vary greatly. Each year news organizations release a forecast predicting when the Sakura (cherry blossoms trees) will bloom throughout the country. Okinawa is one of the southern most parts of the country, so they can see cherry blossoms as early as February. Hokkaido is the northern most island of Japan, so their trees may not bloom until May.

RB: How do people in Japan celebrate Hanami?

IS: It is custom for Japanese to have a picnic with family, friends, or colleagues in a park to enjoy good food and drinks. In bigger cities, the younger crowds have drinking parties and many vendors are out selling all kinds of food. It has added significances, because of the start of the school year around that time. It is very sentimental for the Japanese people. In some companies it is a tradition for the first year associates to go and secure a good spot for colleagues to come and enjoy the festivities.

Hanami, bento boxes, picnic
Hanami picnic with bento boxes in the center

RB: What kind of food and drinks are popular?

IS:Bento boxes are popular. Whether homemade or bought at the store, they offer a convenient option for most people and consist of many traditional Japanese foods like rice, fish or meat, and vegetables. Kushiyaki (grilled meats or vegetables) is also a favorite. As far as drinks, wine, beer, and of course traditional Japanese alcohol, like sake and shōchū.

Are you interested in doing business with Japan? Or you simply want to learn more about Japanese culture?

Attend the Japan Workshop on Friday, March 27

japan workshop, the international center, indianapolis
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Join The International Center on Friday, March 27 for the first event in our 2015 Cross-Cultural Communication Workshop series. This workshop will feature speakers from The International Center to cover appropriate etiquette, protocol and cross cultural communication when in Japan or working with Japanese colleagues. 

Have you experienced Japanese culture? We would love to hear about your story. Share it with us!