It’s the calm before the storm as J-List gets ready for the San Diego Comic-Con next week, preparing the T-shirts, plush toys, horse head masks and English-translated eroge we’ll be offering at our booth. We hope to see you at the show this year!One of first cultural differences between Japan and the U.S. we encounter is the difference in tipping culture. While we’re often expected to pay gratuities in restaurants, hotels and taxis in the U.S., there’s no custom of tipping at all in Japan, despite the fact that the service you receive in shops and restaurants is nearly always excellent. There are times when I’d like to be able to leave a tip to reward especially helpful service in Japan, but if you tried to give tip a Japanese person they’d be confused and possibly even insulted, since it would feel dishonest for them to take any money other than their normal hourly wage. While giving a fair tip for good service is certainly reasonable, sometimes there can be problems. A couple years ago I took our Anime Expo booth staff out to a restaurant called Trader Vic’s, and we all ate a pretty large meal. Not noticing the fine print on the bottom of the receipt that said “a 20% gratuity will be added for parties of six or more,” I left a large-ish tip in cash for the staff, who seemed to be smiling more than usual for some reason. I noticed the automatic gratuity later and was saddened the restaurant staff hadn’t had the honesty and integrity to tell us that a tip had already been added to the bill and nothing further was needed, which would have ensured that I return to the restaurant every year rather than boycotting them. The Japanese staff members who were with us shook their heads sadly, since restaurant staff angling to get a double tip would have been inconceivable in Japan.
Tipping culture is nonexistent in Japan.