Omotenashi – the Japanese concept for Hospitality, or something different?

Japanese people are very proud of many things that come from their country, and the concept of ‘omotenashi’ – identified as ‘hospitality – is most certainly one of them. 

The word ‘Omotenashi’ will welcome you since the very instant you land in Japan (Image: Photo-Ac)

While ‘omotenashi’ may translate best as ‘hospitality’, its true meaning is far deeper and more detailed. Omotenashi is a way of life in Japan, focussed on always providing the best service and hospitality despite receiving nothing in return. You can experience omotenashi across the service industry, from the shop workers who bow to welcome the first customers of the day when a department store opens in the morning. The highly-respectful form of Japanese language that is used by anyone employed in customer service comes as a part of this culture, too.

‘Omotenashi’ is often translated as ‘Hospitality’, but it’s meaning relates more to the quality of a service. (Image: Photo-Ac)

Of course, there’s more to omotenashi than direct customer service. If you’ve ever found a toothpick packaged along with the disposable wooden chopsticks you received at a convenience store, that is part of it. Have you ever watched a bakery worker slipping an ice-pack into a box beside the cake slice you’ll be carrying home? That’s more than a good service. When you receive a wet towel to wipe your hands with before ordering at a restaurant, then you’ll know that fantastic hospitality is included in almost every aspect of Japanese life. 

From the moment your flight lands on Japanese soil to the final seconds you spend in the country before returning home, you can expect to experience omotenashi. With that said, there are few better ways to experience it than to visit a rural location where ryokan (traditional Japanese Inn) staff set up your futon bedding each night and fold it away in the morning, tea ceremony hosts greet you with deep, respectful bows and chefs go to great lengths to painstakingly prepare meals that look far too beautiful to even eat. 

What’s better than a traditional accomodation, perhaps in the countryside, to experience the Japanese ‘Omotenashi’? (Image: Photo-Ac)

Omotenashi is firmly ingrained in Japanese culture, and the people of Japan are proud of their global reputation as the pioneers of fantastic and unforgettable customer service. 

Now you might think: do I need to understand Japanese language in order to fully enjoy the Japanese hospitality culture? Discover it here, and if you are insecure about how to plan your journey to Japan contact us – we’re always eager and ready to help you create the adventure of your dreams. 

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