When to Bow: Answers from a Survey

Head Nod


  • When meeting someone in passing
  • Greetings when you don’t know the person
  • When talking and walking with someone else, and meeting a person

Short Bow


  • Daily greetings
  • Morning greetings
  • When interrupting someone while talking or walking

Shallow Bow

Middle Bow

  • Shopkeeper welcoming a customer
  • First meeting with supervisor or boss
  • Polite greetings (at a funeral or wedding)

Low Bow


  • Not often used.
  • When apologizing for something bad

Kneeling Bow


  • Occasional Ceremonies
  • Martial Arts/Dancing/etc beginning and ending to teacher/master
  • Bowing to a senior teachers/master’s photograph during practice
  • Bowing to the Emperor
  • When meeting in-laws for the first time.
  • Extremely sorry for something bad