Tipping In Japan – All Things You Should Know

Japan’s distinctive culture is one of the main reasons why this country is such a fascinating destination for travelers around the world. However, the land of the rising sun has a lot of rules that everybody should keep in mind and be careful not to cross the line. You should know that a small action which seems to be fine in other countries might be considered rude here. One great example is tipping. So are you traveling to Japan for the first time? Are you wondering about whether you should leave extra money while staying in a hotel or visiting a restaurant? In today’s Location guides, we give you everything you should know about Tipping in Japan.

Tipping In Japan – All Things You Should Know

1. Do You Tip In Japan?

In the United States and many Western countries, tipping is customary. You might be considered stingy if you leave no tips for the waiters after finishing your meal. Normally, people leave about 15 to 20 percent of the total of the bill. However, in Japan, there is no such rule. In fact, some Japanese people might even feel being insulted if you give them extra money for the service.

tipping in japan

In fact, some Japanese people might even feel being insulted if you give them extra money for the service.

Also, while tipping is acceptable in some western-style five-star hotels, employees in Japan have been trained to politely decline. Don’t try to insist on employees taking tipping as it can be prohibited and they can also be fired.

So the answer for the question “Do you tip in Japan?” is definitely no. If you want to show appreciation and express gratitude, you should do it in a different way.

2. Reasons For No Tipping In Japan

So why is it rude to tip in Japan?

It is fair to say that the customer service in Japan is so perfect, so great that every visitor to Japan wants to come back for a second time. Employees in Japan serve customers not because of tips or bonuses from customers, but because in their culture, it is very important to give great effort to complete a mission or a task. They believe that it’s their duty and responsibility to ensure that customers really satisfied with their service.

Tipping in Japan

They believe that it’s their duty and responsibility to ensure that customers really satisfy with their service.

Another reason is that in Japan, money is a sensitive issue. Children here is educated to value every coin. So if you wait a long time to get some change when shopping, no one will be annoyed or laugh at you. It is your money, you have the right to do whatever you want with it. So to Japanese people, it is very strange that somebody just gives away his or her money without any reason.

As a result, tipping is not welcomed in Japan. Japanese service workers will not accept tips from customers. Even Japanese restaurants in foreign countries do not accept tips from customers.

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4. The Exceptions For “No Tipping In Japan” Rule

However, there are still a few exceptions for the ‘no tipping in Japan’ rule. One notable exception is with tour guides. As these guides are more familiar with foreign customs, they may be open to receiving a tip at the end of the tour. In addition, cash is not the only way to show gratitude. Instead, you can buy them coffee or take them to lunch to show your appreciation for their services.

Another one would be if you were staying your vacation in a Ryokan (traditional Japanese house). In this case, you are allowed to leave a tip when you checkout. You can leave it in the room or hand it directly to the staff.

Tipping in Japan

Cash is not the only way to show gratitude. Instead, you can buy them coffee or take them to a lunch to show your appreciation for their services.

It is also quite common to round off prices for taxi drivers in Japan. This will be convenient as they do not have to find a small change to give you.

5. Proper Ways To Leave Tips

5.1. Using Envelopes

If you still want to tip the staff for their wonderful service, remember to do it properly and with respect. Put your money in an elegant envelope and seal it. This way, tipping will be given as a gift, not simply as a cash or bill payment. Taking out money from your pocket to tip in front of the Japanese is considered the most impolite action. Another thing to keep in mind is that you should bow slightly and hand the envelope in two hands. If the recipient bows gratefully, you should know how to bow in response.

tipping in japan

Remember to give the envelope of money with 2 hands

Well, don’t expect them to open the gift right away. They will leave it aside and will be in touch to thank you later.  Giving gift in Asia always follows the principles to avoid confusing parties.

5.1. Origami tipping

If you are dining at a restaurant and want to show your satisfaction with the staff’s service, you can promise to continue supporting or recommending the restaurant to your friends. Or more simply, leave a cute folded tissue on the table. Nowadays, after having a meal at the restaurant, customers often leave beautifully folded tissues on the dining table to express their thanks and appreciation. Many of them were created in the shapes of traditional good luck items in Japan. To some employees, they feel finding origami is far more rewarding than a real tip in cash.

tipping in japan

Japanese tipping origami is very meaningful and elegant.

FAQs:

Is it rude to tip in Japan?

Some Japanese people may be confused about why you pay extra while some others might feel insulted. So to some extent, tipping in Japan is disrespectful. But of course, it depends on the way you tip too. So while staying in Japan, it’s better if you do not tip. Just be polite and say thank you with sincerity. Do not worry, they will not think that you are stingy whatsoever!

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Do you tip concierge in Japan?

The answer is no! Tipping is not expected for a hotel concierge in Japan. You can just simply say thank you and bow to them before leaving the hotel to show your appreciation.

In what countries is tipping rude?

Normally, tipping is not customary in Asia countries. While it is accepted in some countries like Thailand or Viet Nam, it is totally a big No in other countries. Below are some countries that tipping is considered rude there:

  1. Japan
  2. China
  3. Korea
  4. Hong Kong

Even in some Western countries like Belgium or Switzerland, tipping is not customary too. However, a small tip is still acceptable and appreciated.

Conclusion

So now you know the reasons why Japanese people do not accept tips, be careful with your action. Hopefully, our blog is useful to you. If you have any concerns or questions, please feel free to leave it in the comment section below.

About Yuu Sato

Yuu Hiasa has been working in hospitality industry since 2003. In the past, he used to work as a tour guide and now he is running his business of supplying comfortable accommodations in Japan. Thanks to this experience and his passion for writing blog, the articles by him provides awesome tips and things to do when you are traveling in the country of cherry blossoms.