Tipping in Japan differs from the majority of Western countries. In most destinations, tipping in Japan is not required or expected. In fact, in some situations tipping in Japan is seen as disrespectful and so the general rule is – the price you see is the price you pay. This may come as a pleasant surprise to tourists, particularly if you are travelling on a tight budget; however, there are some circumstances where tips are highly appreciated so it is always best to be aware.
Tipping in Hotels in Japan
Most of the time, hotel staff in Japan do not accept tips even for carrying luggage to your room. The only exception to this is at high end ryokans. A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn or guesthouse which offers a more authentic stay for visitors.
Although tipping is not expected at guesthouses, if you really want to offer something then may be acceptable to leave a small tip in an envelope. Tips are only accepted if a staff member has gone out of their way to help you or if you have found the stay particularly outstanding. Again, tips are not expected and may still be returned to you so do not feel disheartened.
Tipping in Restaurants in Japan
It is not uncommon in Japan to find a staff member chasing you down the road because you “forgot your money.” Again, tips are not custom in restaurants and so staff do not accept them. Locals do not tip in Japan and the same rule applies to them as it does to foreign visitors.
Tipping Tour Guides in Japan
Unlike most hotels, restaurants and taxi drivers, tour guides do accept tips in Japan. Tips are still not expected, however, guides are more familiar with western customs and will happily accept if you offer.
The most important thing to remember is that tips are not usually accepted in Japan. Japan prides themselves in offering world class service and do not expect to be paid extra for this. Rather than feeling bad for not tipping, embrace this wish and show your gratitude with ‘Arigato’ (thank you).