The meaning of Kata in Japanese society

Kata is the concept which appeared from Japanese ancient system

The exchange of business cards is probably the first thing foreigners wonder about when they come to Japan. They often get consumed about how to perform this ritual properly.


How people interact with each other and show respect is a form of manner carried in Japan status system. There are a lot of codes of polite behavior of the kind represented by business card and these codes follow a variety of styles. In exchanging business cards, there is the posture of bowing, the timing of when to give your card and also what to say. These aspects are contained in one form (“kata”) or business custom originating from ancient rituals. The proper execution of “kata” acts as a kind of measurement of that person’s professional qualifications. People who use “kata” well are thought as people who can be trusted to understand their roles and function well within society.


“Kata” process is actually began at school. When children enter grade school, they study “kanji” and must learn the exact stroke order. If students do not write the characters in the set way, although there are other easier ways to write them, they simply will not get good grade on the test. Those who have mastered writing “kata” are revered as “Sempai” (teachers) and those who are still learning follow their direction and guidance.


Just as writing Chinese characters in the proper character stroke is the first step of children studying “kata”, the ritual of business card exchange is the first step in learning “kata” as a member of adult society. So companies teach new employees how to exchange their business card properly and new hired employees will have to study a detailed manual about the correct way to interact with people.


“Kata” is available everywhere in Japanese society. When sopping, the store staff will wrap your purchase neatly. This careful wrapping is also a kind of ”kata” to demonstrate how important the purchase is. If it is a gift, it shows that the gift comes from the heart. The quality of both goods and store is expressed by the “kata” of wrapping. It also shows the sincerity of the giver, “Kata” is not a meaningless actions but a way of transmitting certain messages. Following tradition “kata”, unlike America, the recipients does not open the gift with the presence of the giver. Rather, the recipient express his appreciation humbly and politely, setting the gift aside in a show of respect.

Cre: The Inscrutable Japanese

By Mỹ Anh on Dec 31, 2013 5:38:42 PM

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