Perfecting Hospitality in Japan : Tips for Successful Business Entertaining with International Guests

Mayumi Folio
Mayumi Folio

When entertaining a foreigner for business, you may have more trouble than if the person you are entertaining is Japanese.

The reason behind this, I think, is to make sure that the other party will not feel uncomfortable due to differences in manners and etiquette arising from differences in culture and customs.

This article introduces points to keep in mind when entertaining foreigners for business, as well as recommended methods of entertainment.

This article will give you tips on how to smoothly plan business entertainment with foreigners.

We hope you will find this information useful in planning your international entertainment.

Overseas Entertainment

Each overseas country has its own culture and customs.

Here is an introduction to hospitality in cultures such as Asia, the West, and Arab countries.

Circumstances of foreign hospitality from Western countries

Entertainment in Europe and the United States is basically centered on meals. Entertainment is not encouraged as much as in Asia, but it is not entirely absent.

In some cases, people are in positions (official positions) where all dinners and gifts are prohibited outside of working hours, so it is important to consider this in advance, but in general, dinners and other entertainment are normal.

The most common type of entertainment in the U.S., other than dinners, is invitations to charity events organized by companies.

Invite company officials who wish to be entertained to a charity event organized by your company, such as a charity golf outing, charity auction, or charity party.

Then there is entertainment, such as going to sports games or concerts together.

Therefore, entertaining Westerners who come to Japan for dinner parties, golf receptions, Japanese cultural experiences, and celebrations will feel natural.

Circumstances of foreign reception from Asian countries

When entertaining foreigners from China and other Asian countries for business, you must be careful to “make them feel respectable.

Be aware that especially in China and Korea, it is not legal to be rude to superiors.

When you make a toast, take a sip. Many people tend to think that making a toast enhances interaction.

However, since you will be entertaining in Japan and not mainland China, there will be some differences, but keep in mind that it is customary to order extra food and leave it behind.

Even if you are a confident drinker, it is hard to keep the glass constantly empty until the after-party, no matter how strong your drink is. So it would be nice if you can find a balance while socializing.

Most business entertainment in Asia consists of a dinner and an after-party.

Since the atmosphere of the dinner is one of getting to know each other slowly in a relaxed setting, it is a good idea to choose a relaxed restaurant.

For after-party parties, lively places such as karaoke clubs and cabarets are preferred, while entertaining in a private room like a VIP room is said to be popular because of its special atmosphere.

Anyway, Asian entertainment is also a place to drink alcohol, so be sure to properly assess your own health while entertaining.

Circumstances of foreign hospitality from Arab countries

In Arab countries, few people drink alcohol for religious reasons.

For this reason, never plan entertainment over drinks.

Entertainment in Arab countries is based on invitations to dinner parties in homes. However, many people follow the customs of other countries and accept meals at hotels and restaurants.

When entertaining in Japan, if it is difficult to host many people at your home, prepare a private room or a separate room in a ryotei restaurant that has a home-like atmosphere.

Eating with the left hand, handing things with the left hand, and shaking hands with the left hand are also not allowed. This is a point to be aware of, as it is quite impolite.

Knowing the differences in culture and customs well in advance will help your important entertainment go well.

Points to keep in mind when entertaining foreigners for business

Here are three points to keep in mind when entertaining foreigners.

Dining with foreigners

Even when entertaining with foreigners, isn’t a dinner still the basis of the event?

In this case, you should try to hold down a restaurant that is suitable for entertaining foreigners.

It is preferable to have as much quiet as possible, preferably in a private room, so that the conversation is not stressful for both parties.

And it is also important to choose a restaurant that has a menu that can accommodate those who cannot eat certain foods, such as for religious or health reasons.

If halal or vegan food is available, you can choose it yourself. Or ask in advance.

For business entertainment with foreigners visiting Japan, we recommend a restaurant where you can enjoy delicious Japanese food or a restaurant where you can have a unique Japanese experience.

Many people want to experience a little bit of Japan during their short and busy stay in Japan, so we are sure they will be pleased with the experience.

Recommended related article: [Now You Know] Entertaining Foreigners with Kaiseki Cuisine

Business Entertainment and Drinks

Alcohol is often served during business entertainment, but be aware that there are cultural differences in how alcoholic beverages are enjoyed.

In Asia, especially in China and Korea, it is customary to drink up the glass after raising it in a toast.

The stronger the drink, the more exciting it tends to be, especially if it is strong, so don’t read the atmosphere and drink too much…

If you really can’t or don’t want to drink a lot of alcohol, tell them that you want to drink but can’t for health reasons.

In the West, it is not customary to pour a glass of sake, and one should not keep pouring just because the other person’s glass is empty. It is rude to do so, so it is best to refrain from doing so.

If your glass and the other person’s glass are empty, ask, “Would you like another glass? and then pour. After pouring into the other person’s glass, pour into your own glass as well.

Most people in Arab countries do not drink for religious reasons. It would be impolite to set up a place for drinking, so it is recommended to plan entertainment in a way other than drinking.

Recommended Related Article:Sake experience to entertain foreigners! Reasons for popularity, 5 sake recommendations and 6 event examples

Souvenirs when entertaining foreigners

In Japan, the custom of giving souvenirs is deeply rooted, so the feeling of being empty-handed for entertainment is somehow very uncomfortable.

However, the custom of giving souvenirs is not universal, and some people sometimes feel that giving souvenirs for business entertainment is like a bribe.

Therefore, tell them that Japan has a custom of giving souvenirs and that you really want to give them a gift, and choose a gift that will not be a burden for them.

However, for foreigners from other Asian countries, souvenir culture is just as important as it is in Japan.

The sense of market price is similar to that of Japan, so it would be nice to choose something nice from among those that are typical of Japan.

Especially in China, the return gift should be of equal value at all times. Anything more or less expensive than the item or thing received is considered rude.

On the other hand, in Western countries, luxury souvenirs that feel like bribes are often not accepted, and small gifts or mementos are preferred.

As you can see, the value of souvenirs differs from country to country, so please respect the country and culture of the recipient.

Specific business entertainment methods for foreign visitors to Japan

So, what are some ways to entertain business visitors to Japan?

Here are some specific methods that are effective for business entertainment with foreigners.

dining entertainment

The easiest way to set up a reception is to have a dinner.

The method of planning business entertainment with foreigners will be the same as planning entertainment between Japanese.

Unlike among Japanese people, the key point to keep in mind is to dine together while respecting differences in religion, customs, and culture.

And we recommend that you choose a quiet restaurant, taking into consideration the ease with which you can hear each other’s conversations.

If possible, it would be safer to have a private room available so that you can entertain guests in a relaxed atmosphere.

Many foreigners visiting Japan want to try delicious Japanese food, so you will be pleased if you choose a restaurant where you can enjoy wonderful Japanese cuisine for your reception dinner.

Recommended Related Articles: 17 Restaurants and Izakayas in Tokyo for Entertaining Foreigners

Sports Entertainment

Golf is still a representative of sports entertainment, isn’t it?

Golf entertainment has become a hot topic of conversation with former U.S. President Trump’s reception of state guests. It can be said that golf entertainment is common all over the world, including the United States.

The charm of golf entertainment, where golfers leave the city behind and become closer to each other as they sweat together on the course in the great outdoors, is undiminished.

And in recent years, an increasing number of health-conscious businesspeople, especially those in their late 30s and 40s, are mainstreaming a wellness mindset that sees the value in positive physical and mental benefits.

When entertaining someone who values the wellness philosophy, sports entertainment, rather than lavish meals and drinks, will make a good impression.

Entertainment x sports can be combined in many ways.

In addition to golf, other popular ways to incorporate sports such as squash, climbing, gym and yoga into business entertainment are also popular, but if you are considering sports for business entertainment for foreign visitors to Japan, martial arts x entertainment is recommended.

In Japan, there are many martial arts such as karate, judo, kyudo, kendo, aikido, and sumo.

Japanese martial arts are very popular overseas, and a surprisingly large number of people have a personal taste for them, and many people tend to be impressed by the experience of martial arts in Japan. (Reference: Ministry of Sports, Martial Arts Tourism

Why not plan entertainment with martial arts as the keyword and bring each other closer while sweating together?

Recommended related article: [For Wealthy Foreigners] Tailor-made Sumo Experience! How to entertain VIPs at the national sport

hospitality (industry)

Besides dinner, the most popular entertainment for foreigners visiting Japan is sightseeing entertainment. This is a form of entertainment in which you provide sightseeing tours of Japan on your days off from work.

Since you will be together the entire way, you will be closer to each other, and if you can escort the sightseeing entertainment well, your points will be much higher.

For sightseeing entertainment, hold out in advance the areas that you think will please your guests, and build your schedule according to their preferences.

For VIPs and wealthy clients, many change their plans on the spot, so the key is to plan with plenty of time to spare.

Please refer to the following article for a list of recommended spots for sightseeing for business entertainment in Tokyo.

Tokyo sightseeing for entertaining foreign guests! Introducing recommended spots by area

And if you are planning a full-day tour guide from morning to night, we recommend booking a Japanese cultural experience along the way.

There are many possibilities for Japanese cultural experiences for foreigners, from tea ceremony experiences to Japanese dance, Japanese drums to martial arts, with traditional Japanese culture as a keyword.

We can also offer a custom-made Japanese cultural experience project for important guests, which will be appreciated as a very special experience.

Japanese cultural experience for entertainment

Japanese cultural experience is a program for foreigners to experience Japanese culture.

From tea ceremony, flower arrangement, karate and calligraphy to Japanese cooking and candy crafting, you can experience all of the traditional Japanese arts under the guidance of experts.

Therefore, entertainment that allows people to actually experience Japanese culture has the advantage of deepening friendship while deepening understanding of Japanese culture.

There are as many possibilities for content as there are for traditional Japanese culture, and custom-made programs can be tailored to meet your needs, making them perfect for entertaining.

I will now introduce five popular traditional Japanese cultural experiences for business entertainment for foreigners, starting with the next item.

Related article: Japanese cultural experiences popular among foreigners! Recommended 12 Experiential Sightseeing & VIP Entertainment

How to Entertain Foreigners at a Tea Ceremony Experience

Tea ceremony entertainment, which is always planned for entertaining state guests, is a Japanese cultural experience suitable for entertaining foreigners.

This is because the Japanese tea ceremony is steeped in the spirit of hospitality, which is embodied in the gentle, quiet time spent in a tea room surrounded by serenity and a cup of tea.

This is especially recommended for entertaining foreigners who cannot be entertained with alcohol from Arab countries.

In addition to enjoying a cup of tea, a popular plan is to actually try on a kimono and do the ode by yourself.

There is a deep philosophy behind the tea ceremony, and tea utensils are very attractive to foreigners, making it an interesting world with high artistic value.

Wagashi (Japanese confectionery) is also popular among foreigners, and some visitors enjoy the experience of making wagashi in combination with their visit to the museum.

We can talk about the tea ceremony in a relaxed and important way while experiencing the tea ceremony with our valued guests, and most importantly, we can give you an unforgettable time.

Recommended related article: [Practice by expatriates] Omotenashi with Tea Ceremony and Kimono

How to Entertain Foreigners with Karate Experience

Karate is a Japanese martial art popular in foreign countries.

It is estimated that there are more than 130 million karate enthusiasts worldwide and that karate is popular in 193 countries.

Therefore, it is possible that the person you are entertaining is a karate enthusiast, and there are a surprisingly large number of people who learned karate as children.

Even for those who have never practiced karate, karate is a popular martial art that is easy to learn and popular in Japan among both children and the elderly.

The reason for this is that although karate is a martial art, it is not a direct combat sport, but rather a process of concentrating the mind while learning kata and balancing the body’s movements and balance.

Karate entertainment means changing into a dohyo and receiving direct instruction by a karateka together while mastering the kata.

It is a type of sports entertainment, but it is expected to be used as entertainment for foreign visitors to Japan because it can be experienced as a Japanese cultural experience.

Recommended Related Articles: [Basic Knowledge of Karate] Explained in English for Foreigners to Understand

How to entertain foreigners with geisha

Geisha are experts in traditional Japanese culture and have supported the Japanese economy as professionals in entertainment.

There is a method of entertaining foreigners by inviting a geisha to a reception, but it is difficult to prepare a geisha personally since geisha are deeply rooted in the culture of not accepting ichigen-san.

Tailor-made plans for foreigners can be arranged for a personalized geisha experience.

The advantage of inviting a geisha is the aspect that she is a professional Japanese dancer and a professional in hospitality that enhances the occasion.

Japanese dance is a traditional Japanese art form that is very popular among foreign women. A decade ago, geisha was perceived as a Japanese cultural experience for men, but in recent years it has become increasingly popular among foreign women.

This is due to the fact that geishas are admired by women for their beauty and attentiveness.

Thus, geisha are a Japanese cultural experience for foreigners and a delightful presence for both women and men.

Recommended related article: [Hospitality with Geisha] Foreigners are delighted! Ozashiki play and performance as an event

How to Entertain Foreigners with an Ikebana Experience

The ikebana experience is one of the most popular cultural experiences for foreigners.

Ikebana began as a warrior’s pastime, and it is said that many warlords arranged flowers to focus their nerves before a battle.

Ikebana is perfect for business people who instantly see the right place for the right person and make a series of decisions while arranging flowers as if they were there.

The Japanese-style room with a view of a Japanese garden can be used as a venue for the event, where participants can experience a more Japanese atmosphere through ideas such as arranging Japanese flowers in Japanese vases while wearing kimonos.

After ikebana, it is nice to have a smoke in the tea room.

Recommended related article: Why I recommend Ikebana for foreign team building and leadership training? Let’s build your artistic brain in the Japanese way with Ikebana!

How to Entertain Foreigners in a Kabuki Experience

One of the most popular entertainment plans at the Kabuki Experience is to view Kabuki while preparing a dinner party in a private Japanese-style room.

Kabuki is essentially a Japanese cultural experience that is enjoyed by visiting a special theater such as the Kabuki-za.

However, in our custom-made plans for entertaining foreigners, we invite real Kabuki actors to perform at the reception venue.

Motenas Japan has a reputation for being easy for foreigners new to Kabuki to understand, not only because of the performances, but also because of the explanations given by Kabuki actors before the performance.

After the performance, you can take pictures with the kabuki actors and ask them questions about kabuki directly, which is also popular.

Thus, entertaining at a Kabuki experience is a popular and quite special form of hospitality.

Related articles:Recommended for inbound visitors to Japan! What is popular traditional entertainment?


How was it?

In this issue, we introduced business entertainment for foreigners.

Even if the person you are entertaining is a foreigner, entertainment is still important for smooth business.

If the other party is a foreigner, it is difficult to know what points to keep in mind, but if you understand the culture and customs of the other party in advance and plan accordingly, you will surely have a smooth time.

If you are entertaining business guests visiting Japan, you can provide them with a unique and special experience by incorporating unique Japanese cultural experiences into your business entertainment.

Motenas Japan has organized many projects, so please feel free to contact us if you are interested.

Please try to plan a great reception.