Many people will have heard that in Japan, exchanging business cards is very important. Business card etiquette — something I doubt very much even exists in my home country — is still strong in Japan, and one gets a chance to practice this protocol almost daily here. If you're being introduced to someone, even outside of business, they'll often proffer you their card.

These cards are very handy to obtain, especially if the person has one side of the card printed in English. Japanese names are hard enough for nonnatives to remember (Nishida or Nishina? Nakamura or Nakamuro? Nakakawa or Nakagawa?), so having a card makes it easier for many of us.

But as with other Japanese customs, once translated into English, things might not always go as smoothly as the cardholder would expect.