Voices in Japan
The Fake Plastic Bonsai of Hospitality
Jun 26, 2019 · 42 min
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Japan’s hospitality has the reputation of being second to none, but is this really true? Can Japanese service staff go that extra mile for consumers? What are some of the things that people find disturbing about Japanese hospitality? Listen now for a balanced deconstruction of Japan’s world renowned hospitality!

  • Japanese airlines have amazing hospitality.
  • Restaurant staff in Japan are very efficient and polite, but not particularly friendly.
  • The hosts’ expectations of service are much higher because of what they are used to in Japan.
  • Shop staff in Japan do not chat amongst themselves when customers are present.
  • It’s difficult and uncommon to return goods to a store in Japan.
  • Japanese service staff cannot deviate from protocol or think on their feet. 
  • Burke shares the arduous process of applying for tickets for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
  • The slogan for the Tokyo Olympics is “Omotenashi”, meaning great hospitality, but do the Japanese really connect with customers?
  • Why do some people find Japanese hospitality disturbing? 
  • The customer is “God” in Japan whereas the customer is “King” in other countries.
  • There are never heated confrontations between customer and staff in Japan. The staff always accepts responsibility.
  • Japanese service staff take insults and abuse from complaining customers, even if the customer is in the wrong. 
  • Word of the day: “Namara”, a word from Hokkaido meaning “very”.
  • People with tattoos are not allowed in onsens/hotsprings/public baths in Japan.
  • Ben’s friend gets kicked out of an onsen because he had a tattoo.
  • Onsens may become more lenient towards tattoos during the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
  • The hosts talk about getting tattoos.
  • Burke talks about his fraternity brothers getting branded (ouch!).

With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics just around the corner, Japan’s hospitality has come into question. Their slogan, “Omotenashi” which means great hospitality, has been criticised in the press,  https://metropolisjapan.com/omotenashi/ because, as the hosts can testify, the Japanese cannot deviate from protocol, which at times can be very frustrating to the customer. However, compared to Western countries, these are only small grimes to an almost perfect system. You won’t find a waiter abusing a customer for not leaving a tip in Japan! 

Japanese hospitality is about 85% there, and they are definitely improving, and by putting a little more effort into considering consumer needs they will surely be the undisputed world champions of hospitality!



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