Resources for business/formal Japanese?


So I would like to see if anyone has any resources/advice for improving my business Japanese (especially things used in a company setting).
Would definitely like things that are simple, where the basics can be gone through fast, but I of course would love to hear about more thorough things that I can use in the long run too!

For a bit more info, I’m living in Japan now and use Japanese to some extent everyday. I passed N2 last year, my strong point is listening and my weak point is grammar.
I also have zero confidence in my ability to use keigo or anything besides -ます and -です forms. But I’m in a situation where I would possible need to be using more polite/business Japanese in about a month and would like to cram some basic things that might come up (also just should start studying this because it will probably be more beneficial for my work in the future).

Things you’ve done, resources you’ve seen or used, thoughts, any response is appreciated!


I thought I heard about how Japanese for Busy People is pretty focussed on a style more appropriate for corporate settings. I just don’t know up to what skill level that book series takes it. I think that at N2, you’d be at a higher level than what they offer in the later books.

Buuuuut I’ve also never really leafed through those books, so I don’t know what I’m talking about. :sweat_smile:

Sounds scary but exciting. Best of luck!


Thank you! I just looked at the Japanese for Busy People’s table of contents, and it doesn’t seem to be exactly what I’m looking for yet :sweat_smile:
I guess I need something that really just mainly focuses on keigo and business situations :thinking:


I viscerally understand the desire. It may be too many years of doing business in Japan (not to mention the fact that I’ve already dipped into the bourbon tonight), but from the bottom of my heart I don’t think that keigo will help you much with business.

Don’t get me wrong. Japan is an incredibly polite society, even when it comes to business. But I truly believe understanding and clear communication is much more important than honorific terminology.

People are people: personality and clarity of understanding generally carry a lot more weight than technically perfect honorific language.

Trying too hard to be overly polite can actually work against you. It can sound grating. There’s a particularly brutal form of Japanese-on-Japanese antagonism where you can subtly put someone down by being overly-aggressive with keigo.

Unless your Japanese is extremely advanced, I wouldn’t worry too much about speaking keigo. Frankly, at the risk of being politically incorrect, unless you might be visually mistaken for a Japanese native I wouldn’t worry too much about slightly improper/impolite wording.

Learning polite, grammatically correct Japanese is far more important IMO. Understanding keigo when you hear it is absolutely worthwhile, but, unless you might be mistaken for a native, much will be forgiven.


I was watching Kurosawa’s Ikiru the other day and witnessed this, albeit not with keigo. The protagonist tries to get something done by bowing very deeply to every single person in a room, thus creating an uncomfortable situation. That is his very Japanese way of passive-aggression, and it’s difficult to understand by people not coming from East Asian culture.


Thank you so much for your input!
I do agree that communicating is the most important thing!

I definitely will not be mistaken for looking or sounding Japanese, so I don’t need to worry about that. I’ll take your word that understanding will be the most important and others will cut me slack with that (even in my current workplace, I make many mistakes everyday, but as long as the communication is there, no one seems to care!

I’ll try to focus on my grammar from now on, as that is one of the main things I make mistakes in and cause me to not express myself as clearly as I would like.

I think since you’re living in Japan, have you considered just hiring a tutor? I’m sure you can probably just pay a tutor for online sessions in your spare time.

I would also try to ask colleagues for honest feedback. Remember that the "Gaijin Card’ is a double standard, but in this case it’s probably working in your favor so you have margin for error.

Just practice and don’t be afraid to make mistakes is my thought.

Frankly, at the risk of being politically incorrect, unless you might be visually mistaken for a Japanese native I wouldn’t worry too much about slightly improper/impolite wording.

Agreed. In OP’s case the “Gaijin Card” is probably working in their favor (unless they are clearly of Japanese decent or have a Japanese surname).

I can see why many East Asian will look at this as sarcastic passive-aggressive behavior lol.

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