You might think of Japan as having a culture of “hospitality (omotenashi).” You might believe this is expressed in the Japanese way of thinking, customary service, and is an essential element of the Japanese vocabulary.

But what aspects of Japanese hospitality surprise people from overseas? We asked a 20-year-old American woman on her first visit to Japan about “hospitality in Japan.” (The following is based on the experiences and opinions of those interviewed.)

The Service is Dependable, Even Without a Tip!

“There’s no tipping in Japan, but even without it, the service is solid. The American tip culture, honestly, I feel is a bit bothersome.”

Tipping has taken root in American society, and it’s a standard part of customer service. It’s generally accepted that for special service, a tip is required.

But in Japan customers are able to receive surprisingly good service, even without tipping. It’s often said that the level of service in Japan is high, but is it because of the pervasive feeling that “the customer is god”? Even so, it comes as a surprise that even Americans think tipping is troublesome!

Warm Customer Service Wherever You Go

“What I noticed most when coming to Japan is that they provide gentle and polite service wherever I go! I had nothing but good impressions. My favorite was Kyoto, the atmosphere of the town is very good, and overall I thought it was very peaceful.”

“I stayed in Japan for a while, and the service was good everywhere I went, so I felt good. In particular, Kyoto’s old-fashioned cityscapes and sightseeing spots like temples and shrines that are unique to Japan created such a poetic impression, and you could feel the calm atmosphere.”

It’s really wonderful for someone to come to Japan for the first time and get this impression!

The Convenience Stores are Beautiful, Almost Like Cafes!

“There are convenience stores in the US, but they’re completely different. They’re mostly for buying drinks for a long car trip, not places you want to stay at for very long. Japanese convenience stores are beautiful, there are a lot of great products, and you can drink coffee — it’s like a cafe!”

I came to Japan and was surprised at the high quality of the convenience stores. Some of the well-known chains have the same name in the US, but they are completely different.

Japanese convenience stores have undergone an evolution of sorts in recent years. They’ve started serving coffee, added eat-in areas, and also sell store-exclusive items. Even Japanese customers think it’s a remarkable change. Since stores are open for 24 hours, foreign tourists often visit. In …

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