In most cases, the Japanese are very warm, cordial, and hospitable. Of course, traditionally they also expect to be treated the same way by their peers. This goes to show that respect is an integral part of Japanese Culture. In fact, it apparent in the way of life among the locals. In one way or another, they show respect in almost every aspect of their life. It is only by interacting with them that you get a glimpse of that attitude.
Practising the right code of conduct is expected by everybody, even foreigners (although there are some mannerisms which can be excused). To them, this is one way of establishing good relations.
The first thing you need to know about meeting a local for the first is to bow. Depending on the person you are speaking with, this may not be a simple nod. Whenever you are talking to an elder or someone with high status, it is customary to bow with a 90 degree bend at the waist. In case the encounter happens on a tatami floor, you are required to be on your knees when you bow with your hand lightly resting on the ground. If you are simply meeting someone of equal status, a simple nod to the head will suffice.
It is common for locals to invite guest into their house, especially if they are foreigners. Before you enter, never forget to leave your shoes or footwear by the doorway (genkan). Most of the time you will be sitting on the floor and there is actually a posture you need to follow. The formal way would be the seiza, or sitting with your lower half of the legs beneath the thighs and the buttocks resting on the heels. During casual occasion, the men can simply sit cross-legged.
The manner of addressing someone also plays a big factor. In Japan, there are plenty of different titles attached after the name of certain individuals. For instance, “San” or “Sama” pertains to an authority figure. “Chan” or “Kun” are terms of endearment for boys and girls.
These customs are not only applicable in Japan but to locals you might encounter wherever you may be, such as in another country or a cruise.