If you’re conducting business in Japan it’s important to have a quality business card to hand over when you meet someone new. You should have a dedicated business card case as well, it’s not acceptable to keep cards in your wallet.
If you will be in Japan full time then you will find it convenient to have a double-sided business card, one side English and the other Japanese. This is common in the foreign community and many companies that do business in & out of Japan do this for all their employees’ cards.
How to Get Business Cards
If you need to get a card designed there are services like Mojoprint that can do work in both English and Japanese. Their prices are reasonable and they’re very friendly. You don’t need to be in Osaka to work with them, you don’t even need to be in Japan!
If you can do the design yourself then you will often find that getting the printing done in Hong Kong will be quite a bit cheaper than printing in Japan. Hong Kong printers also offer services like Spot UV that can be difficult to find in Japan. I have personally been very happy with Hong Kong based Print100.com. We have a standard design that we use for all employees and we get cards printed & shipped from Print 100. The quality is excellent and the Spot UV looks great. More than a few times Japanese clients, suppliers, and business partners have commented on our cards as they are just enough different from the Japanese norm that they stand out.
Finally it is possible to self-print cards either on your home printer or somewhere like Kinkos. There is special pre-perforated paper available for this and Microsoft Japan has some free templates for Japanese business cards. The downside to creating business cards this way is that they never have the appearance or feel of a professionally printed card. Even the paper with super-fine perforations still feels perforated and many people hold business cards by the edges. It doesn’t present a good image, but it’s certainly better than having no card at all.
Business Card Holders
There is an entire system of etiquette surrounding business cards in Japan. It’s not possible to explain everything in a single post and some things require video to explain properly (check YouTube, there will be many tutorials.) However one key thing is that business cards should be stored in a business card case, not kept loose or in your wallet. The card case does not need to be fancy or expensive, it just needs to look professional and hold your cards.
If you do not expect to carry a lot of cards at one time you can find quite a few professional business card holders that won’t break the bank. This one is nice and rated to hold 40 cards. Here’s another, this one a bit thicker at up to 50 cards. Keep in mind that the cards from Print 100 in HK are quite a bit thicker than normal so you won’t manage to fit the specified number of cards into these holders.
If you will be attending trade shows or similar events you will go through a lot of business cards each day. The smaller card cases won’t hold anywhere near the number of cards you will need. Instead you will want to consider one of the much thicker business card holders like this one that is rated for 100 cards. There are even bigger cases available that hold up to 200 cards but they won’t fit in a suit pocket and are not suitable for use at trade shows or business meetings.