Aug 23, '13

“No tip please, it’s my job”

Tokyo by night.. © Luxeat
Tokyo by night. © Luxeat

Despite the fact that I’ve been to Japan several times (12 if to be precise), I recently found myself in two situations where, to my dismay, I realized that I had not yet learned, or at least kept in mind, the elementary rules concerning tipping in Japan…

The first time, I had just arrived for a short stay at one of my favourite hotels in Tokyo. A boy took my luggage up to my hotel room.  What do you think I did? Well, I spontaneously offered him a tip. And what do you think he politely replied? “No tip please, it’s my job”

The second time, I was at a hair salon, just a few weeks ago actually. After she cut my hair, the sweet hairdresser, a young girl, stood in front of me with a big smile, as if she expected from me more than just a compliment on how good a job she had done with my hair. After a moment’s hesitation, I gave her… a tip! Again, big mistake! Her face went red with embarrassment and she courteously declined my tip.

Even though Japanese service is among the best in the world, gratuities in Japan are generally considered rude. In the Western world, in most cases, you’re rude if you don’t tip! A fine example here of cultural diversity stretched to opposite extremes…

So, in the Land of the Rising Sun, the general rule is no tips. No tips in hotels, restaurants, taxis, spas or hair salons…

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