Now several days into my Trip into Japan and from the 14th floor overlooking Tokyo’s Bay, It turns out there is more to bowing in Japan than simply greeting one another. There is an etiquette that gets taught to young Japanese. Here is the breakdown as it has been explained to me today.
There are four bows in total
* Leaning forward at a 15º angle is for passing someone you don’t know in the street or other situation when stopping directly in front of someone else.
* Leaning 30º forward. Is used for normal greetings for everyone.
* 45º forward is considered the “polite” bow when meeting someone for the first time, thank yous and goodbyes.
* 90º forward is seldom used. It is saved for “deep” apologies. So if you see someone bowing way over. Know that a real mistake has been made.