To Shake Hands or Not to Shake Hands

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To: Crecente
From: Ashcraft

Every Christmas, I drag my wife around Texas to meet up with friends and family. She’s always meeting new people. While her English is far (very far) from fluent, she has the art of introducing herself in my native language down cold. Say “hello”, name, “nice to meet you” and extend hand. Shake.

We’ve been back in Japan for a couple weeks now, re-acclimated to things here. Or so I thought. Late last week, Mrs. Bashcraft goes to a PTA meeting, where she meet a couple mothers she didn’t know. She introduced herself in Japanese of course, but then extended her hand to shake the other’s hand.

Sure, some people in Japan in some situations do shake hands, but generally, it’s a Western thing. It’s not that Japanese people are bowing all the time, but rather, there’s just less physical contact.

The other mother looked somewhat surprised as she limply shook my wife’s hand, causing the cultural faux pas to dawn on my wife. “I’m turning American,” she lamented later. “Regrettably,” she added.

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