One of the joys of living in Japan is the high level of service you generally experience in restaurants and shops, despite there being no tradition of tipping. Again and again, I find myself impressed with the professional manner of nearly everyone I receive service from here, from waitresses in restaurants to clerks in shops and so on. To some degree, good service is atari-mae (ah-tah-ree MAH-eh), something that’s naturally expected or taken for granted, and a business that didn’t provide good service to customers wouldn’t be around long. You can also expect good service at “gasoline stands,” which are nearly always full service rather than self-service, with three smartly dressed attendants who greet you as you pull in, washing your windows and offering you a clean towel to wipe down the inside of your car before taking away any trash you want to get rid of, like in America during the 1950s. Gasoline is expensive — around $1.60 per liter, or $6 per gallon right now — but at least I get something for my trouble.
I’m impressed with the level of service offered in Japan. Saabisu, saabisu!