Bowing Deeply


bowing deeply -
the elephant talks
to the ant

for the Japanese, bowing is a serious matter, not to be taken lightly !

Bowing too deeply will only earn you that secretive smile on a Japanese face, knowing you are again on your hen na gaijin trip, you are just a silly foreigner imitating things you do not know the proper background of.

Employees starting at a company get lessons in bowing, how many degrees in which situation, how long, where to place your hands, how to fold at your hips, how to bend (or not bend) your neck and so on...

When I started learning Japanese Archery (kyuudoo 弓道 ) 30 years back, the first thing sensei tought us was proper bowing. Believe me, it takes some lessons and a lot of muscle ache until you even master the basics.

Later I took lessons with the Ogasawara School of Good Behaviour (小笠原流作法), learning more of bowing for the tea ceremony and other occasions. I still pracitce my bowing every day now ... Doing it in a seated position is even more difficult than standing, believe me.

At most shrines there are illustrated signs of how to properly bow to the gods. (I will take a photo next time.)


Ogasawara School / English Page


Here are some LINKS about bowing in Japan

Japanese Etiquette
Bowing (ojigi) is a very important custom in Japan. Japanese people bow all the time. Most commonly, they greet each other by bowing instead of handshaking. It is impolite not to return a bow to whoever bowed to you.
Japanese people tend to become uncomfortable with any physical forms of contact. But they became used to shaking hands with westerners.

Bowing has many functions in one. It expresses the feeling of respect, thanking, apologizing, greeting, and so on.

© About Japan

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Also of importance is the degree of inclination.
The farther forward on inclines, the more reverence one shows to the other. For instance, an entry level employee may bow forward 45 degrees from the waist while the Manager perhaps just 10 degrees. A sales person would bow lower than the customer as the gentlemen in this sales call is doing.

®1999 - 2002 gate 39 Media

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Bows, called o-jigi, o-rei or rei, are the traditional greeting in Japan.

For bowing in China, see Kowtow.

The Wikipedia has all the details !)

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At Meiji Shrine, Tokyo

The way that worshipers pray in different sects of Shinto vary, but the common etiquette to be observed when praying at a shrine is to bow twice, clap your hands twice, pray and then bow once more. Bowing is a way of showing trust to the gods.

© Meiji Shrine in Tokyo






Gabi Greve said...


late winter sun -
a deep bow down to
the last red leaves

Bowing Deeply, the Facts !
Gabi Greve

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Gabi san.
Now, I see the difference between "deep bow" and "deep bow down".

Happy to learn!


Anonymous said...

wow,, very inspiring. It came to mind how God , the great bowed down to talk to his people by sending the Lord Jesus.
GBU dearest sis.


Anonymous said...

こんばんわ。葵です。さすがGabi さん。小笠原流を学ばれたんですね。すごく尊敬します。剣道や居合いの正座は膝と膝の間隔を握りこぶし一握り分とします。あまり開けすぎて急所を狙われることを避けるためです。

facebook said...

Angelo Ancheta :

in silence
a ceasefire

Pedro Teixeira da Mota. said...

Nice article...
... Bowing is humbleness, is to become open to the blessings of the others and sharing our deep respect, gratitude or love...