As US President Barack Obama discovered when he bowed and tried to shake hands simultaneously with Emperor Akihito, it is not easy, especially if you are so much taller.
The US media, or at least the anti-Obama wing, launched a feeding frenzy of criticism about Obama blowing the bowing. Was he kowtowing? Was he breaching protocol?
Oddly enough, in Japan, nobody took umbrage – or notice – and the Japanese media reported the story as one of those inscrutable aspects of America, a nation that looms large in Japan even if it is a baffling place where one man’s gaffe is another’s show of courtesy.
Scroll forward to the recent display of bowing by Toyota president Akio Toyoda.