One of the most pleasant aspects of living in Japan is getting excellent service wherever you go, whether it’s at a restaurant or having your tank filled by cheerful employees who will wipe your windshield and get rid of any trash in your car for you. At the hot springs hotel I stayed at last weekend, I was impressed with the amount of effort the staff put in for us, bringing the multi-course meals and laying out the futons and making sure we knew where all the baths in the hotel were located. One might be tempted to think that the staff was going out of their way because we were foreign visitors, but that wasn’t my impression: if you are the okyaku-sama (the word that covers the English concepts of guest, visitor and customer) you will be treated well. Ironically, no matter how good the service is, you can’t show your appreciation by tipping. Although the Japanese have imported many customs from the West, from Western furniture and clothing to medicine, the custom of tipping doesn’t exist in Japan at all.
The year 1955 is alive and well at Japanese gas stations.