Polite introduction to higher ranked person

Hello everyone

I had this situation at work today. First of all, we’re a medium sized company located in europe. And we had a meeting with approx. 10 people. 4 from our company and the rest from a japanese company. Which I didn’t know at that time. At first the usual businesscard exchange went through, when I noticed that an older man’s name was japanese. On the card was written Vice President, so kinda big deal. At that point I whished to talk to him in japanese and at least greeted and introduced me in japanese to him.
If I’d said “すみません。日本人ですか。” , would that be considered polite enough? Considered that his position was way above mine. I mean, even if it wasn’t polite enough in japan, we’re in europe and he hopefully would have known that I did try to be polite, right?
If he’d said yes, I would throw the normal “はじめまして。私はnameです。どうぞよろしくお願いします。”

Is there a more respectful polite way to introduce one to another in a higher position?


Wouldn’t it be a bit weird to ask if someone is Japanese in Japanese? What would you do if they just stared at you because they didn’t understand the question?

In answer to your question, you can introduce yourself formally by saying nameと申します. Beyond that I have no idea.


Not sure if this is a good idea since japanese business stuff is SUPER formal.
Also, "日本人ですか” is less formal than “日本の方ですか”, or at least that’s what my teacher taught me.


You might try using the honorific form of the copula でいらっしゃいます as well, but I’m not too sure

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You should always introduce yourself in the most neutral language of all, Assembler.


In this particular situation I think you should just do what’s expected of you and it seems that speaking Japanese was not expected of you. None of the comments so far are giving certain statements because this is a very difficult thing to navigate and it’s really easy to accidentally be impolite even when trying to be polite because Japanese has so many nuances, but hopefully someone will be able to tell you more polite ways to introduce yourself. But I think what you have written is trying to lead the conversation and if he’s way above you then I’m not sure that’s a good idea?


Approved! :smiley:

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Good thing I didn’t say anything. The meeting went really well in the broken english we all spoke :smile:

In a way it’s really exciting how japanese works and how many levels of politeness it has. On the other hand this makes it extremly difficult. And as you and others said, speaking to people above you requires quite some knowledge.

thanks for all the answers!

I wholeheartedly agree with the conclusion you reached. This is the vice-president of the company you are doing business with, so you are also representing your own company. Neither the person nor the setting you want to be practicing keigo for the first time.

I just got out of class discussing and practicing sonkeigo, and there is definitely a lot more to it than switching 人 and 方. You need to be sure to use honorable forms of verbs for the vice-president, and probably need to go so far as using humble forms for yourself as well. So you need to be very aware of what you’re trying to say.


Sorry, run that one past me again?

いらっしゃる is the honorific form of いる, innit? (And also 行く and くる, just to make things more fun.)


I’ve also never heard でいらっしゃる.

The keigo copula is usually でござる, but I don’t know if it would be appropriate to use in asking someone a question about themself.


It’s been a while since any of my keigo studying, but I had to learn a lot of this from using Japanese the Spoken Language in class, it starts pretty early with keigo. From what I remember, (using romaji because phone) de gozaimasu is sort of a neutral politeness, while de irasshaimasu is honorific politeness and I’m not sure if there was a humble politness version… let me go find my old book and relook

Here’s the page I was thinking of, sorry for the less common form of romaji it uses lol, but there are accent markers which are nice


If I remember correctly, でいらっしゃる is used when addressing someones name who is in a higher position.

For example, “すみません、ボッブでいっらしゃいますか?” = “Excuse me, is your name Bob?”

Alternatively like @Belthazar mentioned it is also used as the honorific for いる、来る、and

Edit: just saw the pic above whoops

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Yeah, I hear the standard uses of いらっしゃる all the time. Perhaps でいらっしゃる is just considered too high in register for most interactions.

If it was at the same register as other uses of いらっしゃる, I would expect to hear it at about the same rate.

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Honestly, I can’t even look at JSL’s ridiculous romaji without immediately thinking “oookay, this was written in the dark ages - anything it says can be safely ignored.”

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It is rather old, but the only thing I think is outdated it some of the vocab. It was written during the business bubble time whatever it was called so it was focused on getting people ready to deal with business situations which is why it throws so much emphasis on keigo and introduces some of the smaller topics early. I think. Lol

I do have to focus more on getting my reading up to par because of it, but hey, everything has its downsides

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Lambda Calculus. Assembler for the universe.


The universe’s wave function; includes lambda calculus.


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