Archive for March 4, 2009

When is a Business Card Not Just a Business Card?

There’s a scene in American Psycho in which Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale, who may be his own brand of psycho) and his colleagues compare business cards and go into private mental fits over whose is the very best. Paper stock, paper thickness, color, font, and print indentation are all grounds for extreme personal anguish.

In Japan, giving and receiving business cards — meishi— is kind of a ritual. The information on the card is important of course, because a quick glance at someone’s title tells you if the person is a big fish in a small pond or at the bottom rung of a well-known company. (The latter is preferred, frankly.)

But the process of exchanging cards is also important. In the States we basically toss them at each other with abandon, shove them in our pockets or cram them in our wallets or purses, never to look at them again. This behavior is considered rude in Japan.


If you have the chance to exchange cards there, it’s good to slow down and be respectful. Hold your card upside down with both hands when you offer it, so that it’s readable by the person you’re giving it to. Really study the card you’ve been handed, and look at both sides of it. Don’t place it down on a table, fold it, write on it or stack it inside a bunch of other business cards. Get yourself a nice business card holder (meishi-ire) and place it carefully inside.


There are some really lovely, reasonably priced card containers at Jun-Gifts. The insides are lined with red velvet and they can be customized with your company’s name and logo as a keepsake, too.


I also love the colorful flower-print ones at Shizen Creations.

Happy hunting!

Sarah S.

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March 4, 2009 at 4:50 pm Leave a comment

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March 2009


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