Japan is known for its superb customer service. But what do visitors to Japan really think about it, and what surprised them the most?
‘Omotenashi’ means hospitality, and is often used when referring to Japan’s customer service. We asked American, Italian, Indian and Chinese men about their experiences of Japanese hospitality, and what really surprised them!
(The following is based on personal opinions of those who were interviewed)
Everyone in the electronics stores are such professionals. Why do you guys know so much?! (American)
“It’s amazing, at any large electronics store, the staff will tell you everything you need to know, no matter who you ask. A little while ago, I wanted to buy a camera, and ended up asking quite a lot of detailed questions. The staff called someone who knew more about cameras, and they stayed with me for 30 minutes while I picked out a camera! I’m definitely a fan of that store!”
Interesting, but there are big electronics stores in other countries too, aren’t there knowledgeable staff there as well?
“I think in most other countries, if the store clerk isn’t knowledgeable on that particular subject, they’ll just say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘we don’t have that’! I think it’s only Japan where the staff are so friendly and know so much.”
I thought it was normal for the staff to answer all your questions! But when you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that all of the staff members can give you a concise and professional answer just like that. I had never thought that the Japanese idea of ‘otaku’ or ‘nerd’ would be connected to hospitality.
It’s crazy that buses and trains don’t even come a minute late! (Italian)
“The trains and buses always come exactly on time! In Italy the trains are always late, and there are a lot of strikes. It’s almost impossible for me to imagine them coming on time every day! On top of that, they will apologize if the train is late. It made me laugh to hear an announcement about them apologizing for being one or two minutes late!”
I guess if it’s only a minute or two... But really when I’m in a hurry, even just a small delay makes me pretty angry! I guess that’s mainly because we’re used to everything being on time here. I should be grateful that they arrive on time every day.
The hot water comes out straight away! (Indian)
“Hot water came out straight away! Maybe it’s not exactly ‘omotenashi’, but it’s not a regular thing in India. But, I did get a bit burnt... haha!”
Things that might be taken for granted in Japan aren’t necessarily normal elsewhere. In Indian hotels you usually have to run the water and wait a bit before it gets hot, so it’s pretty abnormal to be able to get hot water straight away.
So with the intention of running the water for a while, he turned up the temperature and ended up getting burnt! That must have been quite a shock!
Japanese taxis are so safe and have the best service! (Chinese)
“Japanese taxis are amazing! No matter what company you use, you don’t have to worry about getting overcharged. In other countries, taxi drivers often think of foreigners as easy targets. The inside of the taxis are so clean, their driving is great, and the drivers are so friendly! Tourists should definitely make use of these great taxis!”
In many other countries there are a lot of unlicensed cabs which charge outrageous prices. What’s more is that even if they belong to a company, some taxi drivers will tamper with the meter... In Japan, whatever taxi service you use, the price is unlikely to change, so you can sit back and relax in the comfy, friendly atmosphere!
There were a lot of things that surprised our interviewees about Japan’s hospitality, we hope that you’ll have some nice surprises on your visit, too!