Wasabi Stories vol.59: “Japanese Don’t Cheek Kiss for Greeting”


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“Japanese Don’t Cheek Kiss for Greeting”

Today’s story teller is a writer of the Nikkei, Hidemitsu Kishibe, and the topic is cheek kissing.

In Europe, they kiss each others’ cheeks to perform a greeting, but there are different styles in different region of Europe.




According to Kishibe, the etiquette of cheek kissing is confusing in a cosmopolitan city, Vienna.

“For example, the people from Paris kiss one set twice, so they kiss four times total for one greeting, while the people in Southern France kiss one set three times, which makes six times total.”

Therefore, when they get together at a large scale party, it gets a tempest of kissing.

Kishibe says that kissing six times per person takes time and consumes energy, but cutting kiss is awkward.

In addition, the number of kiss is not always even; in Holland, they kiss right left right, three times.

If you expect the fourth kiss and stick out your cheek, you’ll get embarrassed (^_^)


We Japanese don’t have the custom of cheek kissing for greeting.


In this sense, Kishibe says it may be more comfortable for us to be with British or German.

They do have the custom of kissing, but only a few kisses with close family or friends, and because when they meet a foreigner, they don’t try to kiss but just hug or shake hands, so we won’t feel uncomfortable.

If there is “universal kissing rule”, we won’t get confused but there isn’t.

Even the European people who are used to cheek kissing, make mistakes.


“Usually they kiss from right cheek but Hungarians start with left cheek, so be careful of speed and which cheek to start, because it’s going to be ‘collusion’.”


The NIKKEI Jun/29/2009 by Hidemitsu Kishibe (Writer of the NIKKEI)


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