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Tipping in Japan

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Tipping in Japan 2004/7/10 10:40
Is it OK to "tip" a waitress or roomservice person in Japan or is it considered to be rude?
by Jo  

... 2004/7/10 10:50
Basically, it is not a custom to give tips, except in high class ryokan.

If you stay at a high class ryokan, you are supposed to put the money into an envelope. Giving the bare money would be considered rude.

If you stay at any other accommodation, tips are not expected and may cause an embarrassing situation.

by Uji rate this post as useful

by the way 2004/7/10 10:58
As a rule of thumb, we usually pay a tip at ryokans where we get the meals served in our room, and do not pay a tip if we eat in a common dining room.
by Uji rate this post as useful

no tipping 2004/7/10 11:02
Hi I was a bartender b4 I moved here of course in the US I over tip kinda a Karma thing.When I first moved here my wife (Japanese)assured me you dont tip.She would never let me even try to tip. One night I went to the local bar alone and left a tip not that large about $2 US as I was leaving I was chased down by an employee in forming me i had Left money accidently on my table.
by REDRUM36 rate this post as useful

You have to mention it 2004/7/10 11:42
Actually, other than the ryokan, it's also not so rare to tell the taxi driver to "keep the change".

In other cases, while tipping is not expected at all, maybe if you feel extremely obliged for some extra effort, you can hand them a fairly neat bill or two, but you need to mention, "This is for you / Please keep it."

But I would usually bring something like sweets or canned juice if a clerk went out of their way to clean up some mess I made. Cash is sometimes too...obvious.

by Uco rate this post as useful

Oops 2004/7/16 10:09
I've never paid tips even in those nice ryokans. So when do you give them the money in the envelope? Do you give it to the Okami when you check out, or to the person who serves you dinner? And how much do you tip?
by Lynn rate this post as useful

Tips 2004/7/16 10:48
Thanks for the response Uco and the rest of the gang. I just made my flight reservations for Sasebo for Christmas & New Years time.
by Joe rate this post as useful

Some service charges 2004/7/16 23:48
While it is true that tipping is not customary in many places, it is becoming common to find that "service charges" are added to your bill in better restaurants and western-style hotel restaurants in Japan now.
by Travlin' Tess rate this post as useful

Lynn 2004/7/17 08:20
I've never paid the "kokoroduke (kokorozuke)" at ryokans either. There are even ryokans that have a policy for refusing them.

But to answer your question, you can put about 3000 yen per room more or less in one of those tiny envelopes or even just wrap the cash in tissue paper and hand it to the first person who comes to your room for a proper greeting and says, "My name is ... and I'll be in charge of your room"

I also once read that upon this event, it doesn't look too good if a woman is sitting right in front of the "tokonoma" decoration board, because that's supposed to be the best seat where the husband is supposed to sit. I wouldn't necessarily call this sexism, btw. It's just a way of style.

On a related note, I have the impression that "service charges" have been quite common for a long time. And at places where service charges aren't clearly mentioned, the people serving will get a fair amount of salary from the facitlity's profit.

by Uco rate this post as useful

Thanks, Uco 2004/7/20 09:08
Now I know what to do, if I ever feel inclined to pay the kokorozuke. And I will be sure to let my husband sit in front of the scroll =)
by Lynn rate this post as useful

tipping in hotels?? 2004/9/1 00:08
Do you need to tip the porter at the hotel?? I know its expected in most countries

Thanks

by Louiemartini rate this post as useful

Tipping 2004/9/1 07:03
Do you need to tip the porter at the hotel?? I know its expected in most countries

No.

by Dave in Saitama rate this post as useful

tipping experiences 2007/4/20 03:48
When I was in Japan, upon arrival I stayed at a hotel in Narita. The attendant helped us with our bags, and afterwards, it seemed like he stood there for a while smiling. Now, at the time I thought he was waiting for a tip (but as it turns out, I had no small bills yet, so I couldn't give him a tip) But now I wonder, could he have been just waiting to see if we have any questions? Or, in places like Narita, since there's always foriegn traffic because of the airport, are people more used to getting tips and such?

As for taxis, in Canada, I always give a good tip. In Japan, I automatically gave tips to taxi drivers. There was a bit of confusion sometimes because of my non-existant japanese, and I couldnt' explain it was a tip at first, but the drivers usually caught on. And yes, it felt like tipping was not really "right". Though some of the taxi drivers were happy. As a tourist, is it more acceptible to tip? Or is it still a better idea not to tip?

by Sylvi rate this post as useful

. 2007/4/20 07:50
As a tourist, is it more acceptible to tip

No. In fact it can be seen at times as very dishonorable, though they will not tell you in your face in order to maintain composure and not making it an embarassing situation.

One time a traveler tipped the bellhop, the bellhop instead went to the front desk and had the money subtracted from the final bill of the hotel room.

Just don't tip, I think its western culture that makes it where you feel obligated to tip, but you don't have to, and its not customary in Japan, and you are not obligated to do so.

But now I wonder, could he have been just waiting to see if we have any questions?
That could be the very fact, or he was waiting to see if you have settled in correctly, and will wait to leave until you shut the door.

by John rate this post as useful

tipping not necessary 2007/4/20 09:31
I agree with John there- the simplest way to put it is "Just don't tip anyone, ever". I have lived in Japan for 9 years and never tipped anyone once, nor have I ever felt it was expected or seen a Japanese doing it.

Interestingly, not all western cultures have a custom of tipping. In NZ and Australia tipping is not customary. You can tip the waiter or barperson if you want to, but it's not expected at all. Not the porters, not the taxi drivers, no-one.

I was amazed when I first visited the US and found that people even tip the person who washes your hair at the hair salon.

In Japan, as in NZ, everyone is paid a fair wage for doing their job, so don't feel guilty about not tipping. Trying to tip can lead to an awkward situation in any case.

by Sira rate this post as useful

Tipping in Japan 2007/4/20 10:07
Sylvi,

While taxi drivers don't usually expect a tip either, if they are short of change, they might be glad if you let them keep the change sometimes.
In general though, I don't think tipping impresses people in Japan, and, as others have already commented in this thread, it can actually embarrass or inconvenience the recipient.

by Dave in Saitama rate this post as useful

Tipping 2007/4/20 10:20
Sira , in the West were generous, we like to make people feel appreciated and nothing says " Than-you, Good Job!" like a BIG tip. We tip 20% in the western world when we go out to dinner etc. You dont have to tip, but do you really want that kind of bad karma ? I sure dont.

If i go to Japan I may do a bit of tipping. You know, if the service is excellent.

Maybe I'll start a trend.

by Don Mancini rate this post as useful

. 2007/4/20 10:24
Sira , in the West were generous, we like to make people feel appreciated and nothing says " Than-you, Good Job!" like a BIG tip. We tip 20% in the western world when we go out to dinner etc. You dont have to tip, but do you really want that kind of bad karma ? I sure dont.

If i go to Japan I may do a bit of tipping. You know, if the service is excellent.

Maybe I'll start a trend.

Don the only thing you'll be doing is offending a lot of people.

Most places such as hotels and restuarants already charge a "service charge" to a bill, not to mention. Its not about bad karma, you'll have bad karma after offending so many people.

by John rate this post as useful

Sorry, I really do not want to offend. 2007/4/20 10:30
I would hate to offend anyone so i suppose i won't tip them.

It just seems unnatural, but when in Rome.


by Don rate this post as useful

tipping IS "accepted" 2007/4/20 11:15
I have to say I can't agree with the recent posts saying that tipping can be dishonorable. They may be "humbled" by the tip, but not dishonored.

As I mentioned very earlier on this thread, although tipping is not always "expected" in Japan, as far as I know (and my knowledge could be limited, but I say this from the experience I know of, magazine articles and celebrities stories) a nice tip will always make people smile.

As for John story on the bellhop, in quality hotels and ryokans there are often a rules that all tips are to be brought to the desk instead of keeping it to yourself. I think this is due to the theory that all the job done in that organization is teamwork and not that of an indivisual. The rule also works as a means to feed back to the organization the gratitude an employee has recieved.

So a tip will be appreciated by the "hotel/ryokan" instead of the "bellhop" and that tip will be shared among other workers in the form of salary. The same thing happens whenever a worker recieve a package of sweets from a salesman. The worker tells his/her boss about the generous act of the salesman, and the sweets will be shared among other workers.

Again as I mentioned, it's very common for people with extra money to tip taxis and people providing various "luxuries". Numerous times I have told Japanese taxi drivers to keep the change when I ride a very short distance or if the driver does an extra job on letting me get to my destination on time, and he takes it for granted with a good smile. I see other Japanese people doing similar things.

But in conclusion, you don't "have to" tip in Japan. It's not your duty and it's not expected. And mostly, it would look impertinent if a minor or student hands out tips.

by Uco rate this post as useful

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