Japan is unique among industrialized nations in that the concept of tipping never caught on, and is in fact about as alien to people here as taking your shoes off before entering a house would be in the States. You can expect service with a smile wherever you eat (as a wise gaijin once observed, “in Japan, you know no one is horking in your food”), and if you were to leave a tip on the table you can be pretty sure the staff would run after you to return the money to you. While it’s certainly nice to not have to tip when eating out, there are times and I receive exceptionally good service and want to show my appreciation, but the lack of a custom of tipping makes this impossible — it would actually be quite rude to even try in most cases. Near our house there’s a miniature F-1 race track that has a nice Italian restaurant overlooking it — apparently the owner loved F-1 so much that he built his own track just for fun, or maybe as a tax write-off, since I can’t imagine he makes a profit. The restaurant has live jazz music several nights per month, and we take our kids to enjoy the performances, but there isn’t so much as a tip jar on the piano for us to show our thanks to the musicians who make our dinner so special.
Japan has awesome service yet no tipping.