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カテゴリーのアイコン Life in Japan
Omotenashi: Japan’s Excellent Customer Service
Jan 30, 2024
4 min read
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Omotenashi refers to the art of selfless hospitality and anticipating and exceeding guests' needs. It encompasses the traditional Japanese values of humility, respect, and attention to detail, and it is considered a core part of Japanese culture and is often referenced as a defining feature of Japanese service and hospitality. The word "Omotenashi" is derived from two words, "omoi" which means 'to think' and "tenashi," which means 'to serve'. It is a mindset of service with empathy, treating guests with respect, and making them feel at home.

Omotenashi in Everyday Life

In Japan, Omotenashi is considered a fundamental aspect of daily life. Omotenashi is not just about good service but about showing deep respect for the guest and creating a welcoming atmosphere that makes them feel at home. It is rooted in traditional Japanese culture and is one reason Japan is known for its impeccable service and hospitality.

It is not limited to hotels or ryokans (a traditional Japanese inn), and is used regularly in the service industry. It is common to see employees go the extra mile to ensure their guests have a comfortable and memorable experience. This can be seen through small gestures like bowing, using polite language, and paying attention to even the smallest of details, such as providing a warm towel before a meal or making sure to ask about dietary restrictions.

In addition to its traditional roots, the concept of Omotenashi has also been modernized and applied to various industries in Japan, such as healthcare, retail, and education. In the healthcare sector, Omotenashi is utilized as a way to provide compassionate and attentive care to patients. This includes ensuring patients' needs are met, addressing any concerns they may have, and providing a welcoming and comfortable environment.

In the retail industry, Omotenashi is applied through customer service training, emphasizing the importance of building customer relationships and providing personalized service. This can be seen through sales associates who go out of their way to assist customers by offering suggestions based on their preferences and providing product knowledge and information.

In the education sector, Omotenashi is applied through teacher training, which emphasizes the importance of creating a positive and welcoming learning environment for students and taking an interest in their needs and concerns. It's also common to have cultural workshops in some schools to educate students about Japanese culture and manners. The concept of Omotenashi has also been gaining recognition globally and Japanese companies are expanding their business overseas, contributing to the export of the Omotenashi concept abroad.

History of Omotenashi

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Omotenashi has a long history in Japan, dating back to the Edo period (1603-1868) when the samurai class would entertain guests in their homes and provide them with luxurious and attentive service. The concept of Omotenashi has evolved and has been passed down from generation to generation in the form of traditional Japanese manners and customs. The traditional Japanese tea ceremony, which places emphasis on the spirit of hospitality, is an example of this.

In recent years, Omotenashi has become increasingly important in the tourism industry to attract and retain international visitors. The Japanese government has actively promoted Omotenashi as a unique aspect of Japanese culture and has trained and certified tourism-related businesses such as hotels and ryokans in the principles of Omotenashi.

What Other Countries Can Learn From Omotenashi

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There is a lot to learn from Japanese culture. The main thing other countries can learn from Omotenashi is the importance of putting the guest first and providing them with an experience that is not just about meeting their needs but exceeding their expectations. This will make the customer’s experience with the establishment memorable and will only have them returning.

By focusing on attention to detail, anticipating needs, practicing selflessness, and emphasizing quality and respect, companies can take a step back from the hypercapitalist practices that only prioritize the company and not customers. This would be a breath of fresh air for many consumers worldwide and benefit companies in the long run.

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