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PRSSA Japanese dinner teaches business etiquette

by Susie Contreras, staff writer


HPU’s Public Relations Student Society of America hosted its second annual business etiquette dinner at Kyo-ya restaurant in Waikiki on Feb. 26. The speaker, Kayomi Kaneda, also human resource manager for Sheraton Hotels, covered the basic points of Japanese business etiquette. The audience consisted of about 25 students, guests, and communication faculty including, Drs. John Barnum, John Hart, and. Hsuan-Yuan (Jade) Huang.


Among basic points covered by Kaneda were initial meetings, exchanging business cards, traditional seating arrangements, and developing business relationships. An important aspect of her presentation was that culture affects how people conduct business, and that no culture is wrong, just different.

Kaneda said that the traditional Japanese greeting begins with a low and graceful bow. Eye contact is minimal. When business cards are exchanged, hold them out in both hands, shoulder height, facing the person so that they can read it. The person of lower status (see sidebar) gives the other person their card first. Seating rituals both depend on and establish status. It’s clear to see that developing business relationships takes time, patience, and trust.

Kaneda also shared tips both funny and helpful. Local people might be used to automatically removing their shoes when they enter a room, but people from the mainland might not know to do this at a business dinner. Which is why Kaneda warned to always check your socks for “puka” to save from potential embarrassment when removing shoes in front of business clients.

And what about serving alcohol? Again, order is important, with those of highest status served first. More importantly, the person serving the alcohol must always serve himself or herself last.

At the dinner itself Kaneda’s instructions got put into hands-on practice. Proper business etiquette requires proper table manners and these were practiced at a six-course meal and sake tasting. For HPU students who live in a culturally diverse state such as Hawai‘i, the dinner was a chance to become aware that not all businesses are run from a western perspective.

This was PRSSA’s second businesss etiquette dinner. The first one took place last year and featured American business etiquette. PRSSA advisor Dr. John Barnum said the group hopes to host these dinners every semester.


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