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Japanese Business
Protocol Quiz
DianaRowland,RowlandandAssociates,Inc.
SanDiego,California,USA
Purpose
This activity is useful as part of a larger training program on Japan, or even as part of a
culture-general program. The objectives can vary, depending on the audience and the
training, but might include the following:
To test and enhance the participants’ knowledge of Japanese business customs and
etiquette
To raise participant awareness of the immense differences among cultures by introducing
them to codes, customs, and practices of another culture
To increase participant understanding of the importance of knowing about those customs
in order to minimize the chances of real failures of communication
Targetaudience
Individuals or teams preparing to work in Japan; any size group
Time
30 minutes
Materials
One copy each of Handout 1, “Japanese Business Protocol Quiz,” and Handout 2,
“Japanese Business Protocol Quiz Answer Sheet,” for each participant
Pencils or pens
50ActivitiesforAchievingCulturalCompetency
254
Procedure
This exercise is useful as an introduction to training sessions about protocol or as preparation
for interactions with Japanese workers or customers. It is designed to be a “teaser” to stimu-
late interest in the more in-depth information that should follow. As such, it should be both
interesting and fun. These two goals are probably best achieved by letting the participants
work in pairs. Follow these steps:
1. Organize the participants in pairs.
2. Distribute a copy of the quiz to each participant.
3. Give the pairs 10 to 15 minutes to complete the quiz.
4. Discuss the questions and their right and wrong answers in the large group.
5. When the questions have been covered, ask the participants:
“What areas surprised you the most?”
“What things would cause you the most embarrassment?”
“What things might interfere with productive business activities?”
“Have any of you been in a situation where things seemed confusing or awkward
because you didn’t know what was expected? Give some specific examples.”
“Can any of you see, in retrospect, how a situation you have been in might have pro-
ceeded more smoothly or productively if you had had more knowledge? Explain what
might have worked.”
“Can any of you think of a situation where you might have inadvertently offended a
Japanese client? Please share this with the group.”
Options
1. To save time, this exercise can be conducted as a large-group activity with participants
simply volunteering answers.
2. The questions can be broken up and each question presented at the beginning of the spe-
cific section of the training, where related information would be introduced.
3. The large group can be divided into eight (or four) small groups to work on the questions.
Each group could then answer one or two questions.
JapaneseBusinessProtocolQuiz
Reproducedfrom50ActivitiesforAchievingCulturalCompetence,byJonamayLambert,
SelmaMyers,andGeorgeSimons,editors.Amherst,MA:HRDPress,2000,2008
[Handout1page1]
Japanese Business Protocol Quiz
When we visit a foreign country, we sometimes find ourselves in unexpected situations. What
would you do in the following situations? Circle the best answer.
1. You arrive at a Japanese company and the receptionist shows you to the conference room.
You should:
a) Sit at the head of the table
b) Sit at the foot of the table
c) Sit anywhere you like
d) Wait to be directed to a seat
2. You are introduced to your Japanese colleagues. You should:
a) Try to acknowledge their bows with at least a nod of your head
b) Not expect to shake hands
c) Keep plenty of business cards in your wallet
d) Make notes in their business cards
3. Your colleagues invite you out to dinner. When you are served rice, you should:
a) Stick your chopsticks in your rice when you are not eating
b) Pour some soy sauce on your rice before you start to eat
c) Put your chopsticks across your rice bowl perpendicular to you when you are done eating
d) Lift the bowl and eat from it
4. There are bottles of beer on the table. You should:
a) Feel free to ask for a different brand if the beer on the table is not a brand you like
b) Make sure the glasses of the people next to you aren’t empty
c) Refill your glass from your beer bottle
d) Watch politely if someone fills your glass
5. You decide to go with some friends to a nearby hot springs. You are given a light cotton
kimono. You should:
a) Put it on with the left lapel over the right
b) Put it on with the right lapel over the left
c) Wear it over your clothes
d) Wear it only in your room

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