Some may see it in the western world as a sign of looking weak but the Japanese custom of bowing is seen through my eyes as being quite a nice tradition. Its always a bit embarassing when you meet someone (whether they be known by you or not) and don’t know whether to greet them with a handshake, a hug, a kiss, a kiss on each cheek, a backslap or whatever.
That uncertainty never happens in Japan as its bowing only when between two Japanese people and of course this method is also more hygenic. Of course bowing can be quite comical sometimes when drunken salarymen (business men) are maybe too close at the end of the night and inadvertantly headbutt one another.
I’ve always been a bit of a nodder especially when it comes to saying hi to someone in passing. Not sure how I was last Christmas when I was back home but I’m told that when I returned to the UK a few years ago I kept on nodding and bowing to everyone out of habit. A sure case that you can take the man out of Japan but you can’t take Japan out of the man!