Are you planning to enter to Japan market with your business?

Today, I am sharing you some tips and how work well with your Japanese business partner or to your client.

Language barrier

The language barrier is much bigger than you imagine.
Even younger generation in big cities are open to foreign people but still mare than half of them cannot communicate in English, and many people does not consider that learning English is necessary to their life.

If you contact to them in English, they might think it a spam will never read it either influencer nor business email.

Distance barrer

Japanese people feel the abroad is so far, would be some different world in the movie etc.  Talking about to sell your product to B2C clients, ordering the product from abroad require high motivation.

If you want to sell your product online to Japanese customers, you need to complete following requirement:

  • Totally localize your e-commerce site
    • language
    • check out process.  delete some additional options which is exist only in Europe or United States
    • Auto filling address by post code – it’s already standard
    • Order the prefectures by the number defined by Japan post office
  • Make easy accessible customer support. Forms or phone number.
    If it is not easy to find, they concern how to contact and return/change when they receive detective product. It’s essential to know before they decide the purchase.
    *It is also lots of work to send back the product to abroad. Many people never ship to abroad and don’t know how.  It’s much more difficult to ship inside EU.
  • Make clear about import tax and other additional cost.  Preferably, you should pay for all of them and customer do not need to worry how much it will be.

Differences social apps


Facebook group is not active as Europe.  We don’t use facebook to look for the place to live in FB group.  There are event information for over 30-40 age group.  The people at these age don not know “how to follow the brand page”, “what is mention using @”  you better to know when you are planning campaign by organic post.

What is whatapp? We use “LINE”

For several years, LINE became the most common communication tool in Japan.  Before LINE became begger we were using email to communicate with others.

And for few years, it became a one of the major marketing communication tool for the companies and brands.

Create free stamp(collaborate with illustrator who draw cute animals or girls), get leads with those stamps or offer some coupon.  Then notify new product, promotion, beneficial information through this app.  People easily mute or delete to company account.  Many people get the stamp and mute it, so you need to create a attractive content to keep them.

Business account of LINE cost much more than facebook ads.


It is not common platform to find the job.  This is only for people who are looking for global career or the position which require in English.

Sending sales messages through LinkedIn does not make sense.  I was surprised now I receive various messages from the people selling copy machine or marketing tools.

Common apps we also use in Japan

FB, instagram, twitter – you can basically apply your strategy for ads.

For the content it is better to adapt local sense and humor, stories.   Japanese normal audiences are Tech behind and don’t know basics about sustainability.  If your business taking part of them, you should teach them like you teach to kids from basics and educate them.

whatapp, yelp, wechat are not used in Japan

Need to give before they ask

This part is to build a great relationship with your business partner.

Not for all situation but you better to keep in mind. If your business partner ask 1 question about the product or offer, you better to offer multiple options, the background of the situation/decision, all the asset which may require.

When I ask the information about a new product, I often just got few or just one sentence information which are totally lack of information and I cannot send it to other my Japanese partner.

  • Official name
  • Product number / URL
  • Price
  • Dimension (height, width, detailed as possible!)
  • What the story behind?
  • How to use it
  • What is the important/ appealing/ special point of this product

If they need to ask again and again, they gonna get tired and will give up to communicate with you.

Without full information, people will wait until they got everything, never start action.  It is one of the pain point in Japanese company culture, they cannot proceed quickly and would be hard to follow the current global business speed.  However, many companies are still like that. This might change in new generation.

Do not just forward the document, data, design from the original

It is your responsibility to present and make it understandable to your Japanese partner.
I have been seeing lots of American and Spanish coworkers just forward to the datas to the client or their business partner without checking or organize the file order/name etc.

When you send some data by email, list up what you send in email and they will understand what you’re sending and feel more comfortable.

Add “-san” to call your business partner

-san means, Mr or Miss but not so formal and obligation to use it in business situation.  To your boss, to your business partner, even boss use this to his/her staff to call them.  Exception will be only if your partner became your really close friend.

It is not obligation to use it as you are non-Japanese, but this makes feel “respect” and they will feel that you understand Japanese culture.

If you want to try really friendly and open, equal style, you can call them their given name.  But I personally recommend to call “family name”+”san”


I have been helping localization by utilizing my language, design, programming skills as well as entering Japan market for several companies with my marketing knowledge and experience, if you are looking for some more tips or need some help for your business, reach out to me on linkedIn, twitter or contact form.

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