Japan (30) - Whole Lotta Bowing

22 July 2010 - A few months ago President Barack Obama was criticized at home for bowing for President Hu Jintao of China. However, bowing is a formal way of greeting in some Asian countries - notably in Japan. Although at first glance it may seem simple enough, the bow - together with its implications - is actually quite complicated. The depth of the bow and the number of seconds devoted to performing it, as well as the total number of bows, depend on who you are to whom you are bowing, and how they are bowing back. In addition to bowing in greeting, the Japanese also bow upon departing and to express gratitude. The train conductor in the Shinkansen bullet train for example, bows every time when he enters and leaves the carriage. That is a lot of bowing. The proper form of a bow is to bend from the waist with a straight back and to keep your arms at your sides. However, I was told that if you are a foreigner, a simple nod of the head is enough. But as this is my last blog from Japan, I bow deep ... domo arigatoo. I am bowing out.

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