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How can I pay the check for my friends? 2008/5/17 03:28
This year I'm invited for the third time by friends to stay with them for a couple of days. He asked me what I liked to do and offered me to drive me to Kochi - for seeing whales. I answered that I like to go to an onsen with the family and to an izakaya. I never meant that I assume they will pay, I like to treat them! Last time when I was with them, we were at an izakaya as well and with quite some difficulties I managed to grab the check and I could pay for all. Just a token of gratitude for their hospitality. He said 'it is too much (it was not) and you can pay half if you insist'. Well, I'm from the Netherlands, but I hate 'going Dutch'. This year I like to treat them again, if possible without the (embarassing) fuss of arguing over the check. Anyone an idea how I can do that? I don't speak Japanese, so a deal with the waiter is not possible.
by Trudy  

customary 2008/5/17 11:43
It's customary for the Japanese to go over "the (embarassing) fuss of arguing over the check". If you don't like going Dutch, just say so and go through the (embarassing) fuss of arguing over the check. You're doing nothing wrong. And if they feel too obligated, they always have the freedom of treating you back at another bar, and that's customary too.

But on a related note, we always have to keep in mind that if we sense that someone is going to pay the whole check, we tend to be hesitant about ordering what we really would like to order. For that reason, going Dutch often sounds reasonable.
by Uco rate this post as useful

"Going Dutch" hmm...? 2008/5/17 23:04
Well if you want to treat them to something to show your gratitude I would not do it at an isakaya.

During a meal in an isakaya I would not want to feel restricted on what food I can order. Hence, if I feel that you are going to pay for it all, I may not eat what I desire.

Typically, my friends and I take the total bill, and divide it by the amount of people attending. This tends to work well when you are close friends, because you all know whose going to pay at the end, so you all eat freely. Though, be carful not to be a glutton, it may cause problems, try to eat as fast and similar amount as everybody else.

If your friends continue to not allow you to pay at the isakaya, then go to a bar in an area which is known to have a lot of foreign influences. So if your lucky the bar tender my speak some English and you could work out a way to get the check in secret.

I spent sometime in Asagaya (West Tokyo) and found it had an established blues seen. So, many of the small bars there had fluent English speaking Japanese bar tenders. Yep, I had some great times in those bars. (Or the ones that I can remember at least)

Hope this helps.
by Jake rate this post as useful

Thanks. 2008/5/18 00:49
I understand what the both of you mean by 'not ordering what I want to eat' but I don't intend to let my friends know I want to pay the complete check. Just afterwards. Does that make a difference?
by Trudy rate this post as useful

what they expect 2008/5/18 00:59
But Trudy, if you have paid the check before (even after all that embarrassing fuss), they are likely to suspect that you will try to pay again, and if you do pay again this time, they will surely have to think that you might pay for the third time.

Why do you hate to go Dutch in the first place? Depending on the reason, maybe we can give you some advise from a different perspective.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Well... 2008/5/18 01:05
Well, if they wonft let you pay for the check, then I would recommend you try to ask for it yourself. It may be a little rude, but may show them how adamant you are about paying. Hence, they may drop the subject, or like what Uco said they may offer to pay for next outing.

Now, to ask for the check in Japanese it is "ookake onegaishimasu". This literally means "bill please".

Don't forget, to get the waitress/waiter/owner/ext. throw out "sumimasen", which means "excuse me".

Or, all together, "sumimasen, okake onegaishimasu"

Just remember this can be rude, or flat out uncalled for. So you will have to use your better judgment.
by Jake rate this post as useful

To Uco 2008/5/18 03:48
I find going Dutch so cheap, as if one can't treat friends. Of course in my own country sometimes I do, especially with friends whom I see on a regular base, but in cases like this I just don't like it (probably the prejudice that Dutch people are stingy is the reason I hate it I guess ;-)

Well, I think I will find a solution for showing my gratitude to their help and hospitality.
by Trudy rate this post as useful

"o-kaikei" 2008/5/18 12:00
Hmm, excuse me for mentioning this, but as suggested, I find it cheaper to go over a fuss to treat someone at an izakaya than to go Dutch. If you don't want to look cheap, you should either buy them an expensive and genuine cocktail at a nicer bar or buy them a decent dinner at a restaurant. If you feel comfortable by treating someone, fine. But you can't be so sure if the other party feels how you expect them to feel.

In any case, an izakaya is supposed to be a place where everyone becomes equal, although I'm not saying that treating doesn't happen there.

That said, if you insist you can ask, it's actually, "o-kaikei o-negaishimasu". You should go to the waiter as you excuse yourself for the bathroom or something. That way, no one would know until you've finished paying. This indeed is a common way of paying the bill in Japan. I should've thought about it earlier. Thanks Jake, for reminding me.
by Uco rate this post as useful

. 2008/5/18 13:21
This is a nice topic. I have had the same things happen to me in Japan. I went to a Yakiniku place with a couple friends. They picked me up and we had a great time. I tried to pay for the check on the side, Out of view of my friends. They saw me, and Told the worker, Don't let him do that. Another time, I went to Nara with 3 friends I made from this site. We had a nice lunch. I saw the check on the table, and Grabbed it without them seeing me. We were eating upstairs. You pay the check downstairs. As I was walking ahead of my friends, One of them realized that, I had the check. She was calling my name, But I didn't look back. I started walking faster and ended up running down the stairs. As I was paying the check, She was pushing me away and trying to give the cashier her money. I won! You can always tell them you want to take them out and you will pay. If that doesn't work, When you are leaving them for the last time, Give a card with some money and a thank you note. That's what I would do.
by Danny San rate this post as useful

predudice 2008/5/18 14:00
I suppose I should add something about predudice, in other words stereotype.

If there were to be any stereotypical view towards the Dutch among the Japanese, I think that most Japanese people think that the Dutch are open-minded.

The Dutch are one of the very few foreign people who have been constantly accepted in Japan for centuries. During the Edo era, they were the only Europeans allowed aboard and we learn at school that this was because they never forced their values to the locals. Any Japanese person who has toured to the Netherlands today has the stereotypical impression that all Dutch speak fluent English and they tend to think that this is unlike other foreign people who tend to cling to their pride and be hesitant to speak foreign languages (with the Japanese on top of the list).

So while I think it's not a bad idea to finish the payment while you go to the restroom, I see no reason for you to not try the local way of going Dutch, or to be politically correct, splitting the bill.
by Uco rate this post as useful

A couple of suggestions... 2008/5/21 04:38

I have a few tried and true suggestions.

First going behind your friends back to pay, can anger them. So don't do that.

Fussing over the bill is part of the ritual of friendship in any culture, so the haggle is part of the fun. Sometimes you let them win and sometimes you insist on winning.

Since you are friends, discuss it with them. Do as I have done. Tell them that you appreciate them and want to take them out someplace special. Tell them that they are always welcome to invite you out another time.

You can also simply make the arrangements and then tell them that you are taking them.

I have done this many times and since I get to select the place I try to go somewhere that I know they really want to go or someplace I know is so nice that they might not normally go.

Another thing to remember is that you should keep you ears open for special things that they like or do. Upon you return home you can send them a very nice gift inline with what you heard.

For example, my girlfriends grandfather received a really nice tuner for his guitar, her parents received trekking poles and Hydration packs, etc. Recently, her niece did very well in school and I sent her a mirror and matching rug for her room.

So there are other ways of thanking them.

by Engeru rate this post as useful

.. 2008/5/21 13:06
Thank you all for the suggestions. I will find a good way to do this and for sure I will take some presents to Japan with me and also send afterwards - like I do 2/3 times a year for the last 4 years now.
by Trudy rate this post as useful

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