I lived in Japan for a few years, and learned some bowing rules, including the fact that you are NOT supposed to make eye contact when you bow.
But if you look at some commercials in the U.S. (and probably Canada too and other parts of the Western world), the Japanese people do not bow that way. They maintain eye contact with the people they're bowing to. The latest example is in the Wii commercials. The Japanese guys who go to people's houses, telling them they'd "like to play", are maintaining eye contact while they're bowing towards the homeowners, which would be considered quite inappropriate in Japan. But obviously, they're doing it for non-Japanese people, and it's quite dramatic, so it works for us.
Those commercials are great, by the way, and include some awesome shamisen playing by the Yoshida Brothers.
Way to go, Japan.
Update: some Japanophiles were telling me that in the martial arts, you HAVE to look at your opponent when you bow. So they suggested that the Japanese guys in the Wii commercials are acting as if they're bowing towards their opponent in martial arts. That makes sense.
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