The unspoken language of gestures

While in Japan, it is best not to use hand signs or other gestures as you might mistake the correct meaning of the signal or use them at inappropriate times. The following is a short list to keep you aware of a few common gestures used in communication among the Japanese.


Their meaning

Pointing to one's nose or touching the nose


Nodding one's head up and down. (This should not be mistaken to be a "yes"). It means that one is listening, but not necessarily agreeing with you.


Fanning one's hand back and forth in front of the face as if to nod "no" with the hand or fan away flies.


Covering the mouth with a hand, usually by women.

"Modesty or embarrassment"

Pointing the index fingers up from the temples - mimicking a devil with horns.


Criss-crossing the index fingers or tapping the index fingers together.


Forming a circle with the thumb and index fingers together (Similar to what is sometimes used in the West to mean "OK").


Holding an imaginary rice bowl in the left hand while pretending to shovel rice into the mouth with chopsticks with the right hand.


Miming the wrist action of taking a drink from a small sake cup.


Waving the hand back and forth motion with the fingers pointed downwards.

"Come here"