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For English speakers, the Japanese language can be difficult to master. The writing system is completely alien, sentences sound like something Yoda would say thanks to the order the words come in, and while it makes perfect sense once you get the hang of it, the Japanese’s habit of omitting pronouns can make conversations almost impossible to follow.

The good news is that for short visits to Japan you can usually get by with very little Japanese since people are usually extremely patient and accommodating. A bit of miming here and a “please” and a “thank you” there will get you a long way.

But if you’re not familiar with Japanese hand gestures, you may end up in a sticky—or at least rather embarrassing—situation…

In this short video, our famous reporter Mr Sato quizzes you on four common Japanese hand gestures. He’ll also show you a few that you won’t often see in the wild but which make him the man we love so much. So sit back and get ready for a crash course in Japanese gestures. If you see something you’d like to know more about, be sure to leave a comment at the foot of the page—we’re sure one of your fellow readers who has a black belt in Japanese be able to help you out.

Take good care of those tiny foxes, boys and girls, and have a great weekend!

Now read:

Four Western gestures that are difficult for Japanese people to understand