What does the highlighted part mean in the following passage please?

In Japan, there are strict norms involving the exchange of business cards. One person presents his or her business card with the writing facing the recipient, who looks at it for a moment and asks a question about some of the information on the card. The question may be irrelevant, but it tells the giver that the recipient has read the card and acknowledges the person and his or her company. A Japanese executive who receives a business card and does not take the time to look at it and ask a question would be considered deviant.

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about understanding business etiquette; there is no identified language related question.
    – user3169
    May 4 '15 at 23:04
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    @user3169 I disagree - this isn't about business etiquette. Murat wants to know what the highlighted portion means, not what it could imply in an etiquette sense.
    – Nicole
    May 5 '15 at 1:40
  • @Nicole What portion that you could not get from a dictionary?
    – user3169
    May 5 '15 at 1:55
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    @user3169 While the individual words may be easily found in a dictionary, sometimes phrases are harder to find the meaning of. This is a site for English learners, after all.
    – Nicole
    May 5 '15 at 1:58
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    @user3169: And the etiquette bit in my answer is simply a little bonus - some things are easier to understand if one adds a little why to the bare facts.
    – Stephie
    May 5 '15 at 10:20

If you hand over the card, there are multiple ways it might be turned - in theory, you could even turn the back side up.

"With the writing facing the recipient"
means oriented in such a way that the recipient can read the card directly, without turning it, or, from the giver's point of view it would be upside down. (Assuming two people facing each other when the card is presented as it's customary in Japan.)

In Japan, the exchange of business cards is a bit like a ballet choreography with strict rules. I like this video, for example. Remember: While in most western cultures a business card is basically a scrap of paper with contact information, a business card in Japan symbolizes the owner/giver, therefore handling the cards with respect and attention is required - lack of this would be a direct insult to the giver or (in case of your card being less than pristine or handed over carelessly) reflect badly on you.

  • Thanks . I thought it is kind of a special card which especially was signed for someone ..:)
    – Mrt
    May 4 '15 at 21:20
  • @Murat In English writing may refer to printed matter, not just handwritten matter; by default it contrasts with speech or spoken matter. May 4 '15 at 21:24
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    @Murat: And writing by hand on a business card in Japan is a big no-no!
    – Stephie
    May 4 '15 at 21:30
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    @Murat: I can't say for sure but as bc's are in most cultures (that I know of) exchanged while standing I strongly assume so. Bowing correctly would be hard while sitting, as would be storing the card case in your inner breast pocket of the jacket (where it is supposed to go) without getting it into disarray. Remember that cards are usually part of the introduction process, which happens before everyone settles at the conference table.
    – Stephie
    May 4 '15 at 21:50
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    @Araucaria - me too ;-) i'd probably been visiting for 6 or 7 years before one of my Japanese friends pointed that out to me, late one night, in a bar :) May 5 '15 at 10:19

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