The other day I mentioned the interesting topic regarding first names and Japanese culture, today I will mention Obama's faux pas regarding bowing.
Honestly, I know that among some this is a big deal. I find it irritating more that he is hypocritical. He does not bow to the Queen in this way and allows a ridiculous breach in protocol by his wife but then practically kisses his toes when speaking to the Emperor of Japan and the King of Saudi Arabia.
In any case, I used to live in Japan and when I saw Obama's bow I instinctively knew that something was wrong with the handshake and the deep bow at the same time. I saw it as an embarassing gaffe for someone who considers themselves to be "America's first Pacific President".
Nevertheless, as a foreigner, I doubt he offended the Emperor or anyone else with his ignorance. Japanese people tend to be quite amused by the ignorance of foreigners of their culture and its pretty much expected that a foreigner will not know Japanese culture. It is impressive when they do though.