Written Japanese has three sets of characters: kanji, hiragana and katakana. There are about 50,000 kanji characters but only about 3,000 are used in daily life. Kanji represent nouns, verbs and adjectives. To show verb tense, endings known as hiragana are added. These characters have different sounds but no meaning on their own. The third set of characters, katakana, is used to make foreign words pronounceable in Japanese. Local dialects vary from one region to another and may be difficult for outsiders to understand. The Toyko dialect is the closest to standard Japanese.
  Did you know?
For the Japanese the stomach is the centre of the emotions. Instead of having heart-to-heart talks, the Japanese say they "open their stomachs" for a good conversation. 
The Japanese bow as a greeting and to show respect or gratitude. The depth of the bow depends on the occasion and on the social status of the individuals involved. When bowing, Japanese keep their feet together, and their back straight. Women put their hands on the front of their legs and men keep their hands at their sides. 

The Japanese smile can be difficult to interpret, as it is used to convey happiness, anger, confusion, embarrassment, sadness or disappointment. Communication includes the concept of omoi-yari, which means interpreting the underlying meanings of a conversation. 

The Japanese nod their heads to show agreement or concentration during a conversation. they also use small words called aizuchi to indicate attentiveness. They signal a negative response by holding a hand in front of the face and waving it back and forth sideways. It is considered rude to point at others, chew gum, lean against a door, or keep one’s hands in one’s pockets. When laughing, Japanese women are expected to place their hand in front of their mouth to avoid showing their teeth.

 In Japanese, the family name precedes the given name. Most Japanese are addressed by their family names. Given names are used only for children or between close friends. sensei or san may be added to the end of a name to indicate rank or position. Sensei indicates respect. San is the equivalent of Mr. or Ms.

  Did you know?
Many Japanese enjoy manga (comic books). These books are not just for children, but are enjoyed by many adults and tell realistic stories about life and work. Many are published in weekly or monthly series.
  English Japanese
  Yes   hai
  No   iie
  Please (when offering something)   dozo
  Please (when asking for something)   onegai shimasu
  Thank you   arigato gozaimasu
  Good morning   ohayo gozaimasu
  Good afternoon   konnichiwa
  Goodbye   sayonara