9

In japan, is it considered rude to leave a tip in Restaurant/Pub? I read that tip was even refused at pubs.

Generally in Europe/India, i leave a tip and it is expected.

Update:

I am now back from my trip. So yes, I can confirm that, there was no practice of tipping. Only place which was exception was Osaka where I was at a shop to buy Takoyaki and the shop owner didn't return change and I had to ask for it.

13

Nobody expects you to tip in Japan.

Tipping in Japan means, that the service was better than expected and they then ask themselves, why you didn't expect a great service.

There is a possibility to tip the room service for example, if you really want to (nobody expects it). But for doing that, you have to put the money inside an envelope and write their name / function (e.g. room service) on it. Never leave just money or they will think you mistakenly forgot it there and try to give it back to you in any way possible.

A friend had waitresses run out onto the street, just to give the tip back.

10

In Japan, people don't expect to be tipped. If you give some, it might cause an awkward situation.

  • 1
    There were only two places where I've seen people tip in Japan...these were TGI Fridays and the Hard Rock Café in Tokyo. Other than those places, tipping is not expected and is indeed considered to be rude in some cases. – ar5975 Oct 26 '18 at 7:41
4

I am not sure how the tip is received by the Japanese person, as in whether they feel insulted or amused or bewildered. They do expect ‘Westerners’ to act weirdly and probably restaurant staff in popular tourist destinations has experienced people from a tipping culture wanting to leave more than the bill said.

However, they will not keep the money. In one case I witnessed, the extra money used to pay (something like ¥8000 for a ¥6500+ bill) was handed back along with the exact change. One regularly reads and hears stories of customers being followed by staff because they ‘forgot their money’ although I haven’t seen it in action.

The final price you are told to pay is priced to include any service costs, staff depends on a fixed salary, not random additional money, and the best service is the expectation.

  • Indeed. This happened to me when I left a tip out of habit. The waiter went after me out of the restaurant to tell me I forgot the change. – Itai Dec 18 '18 at 12:48
  • Though voluntary tipping is not expected, prices may not always include service costs. This can be manifested a discrete percentage service charge, seat/cover charge, or otoshi (appetizer that acts as a cover charge), depending on the establishment. – user71659 Dec 18 '18 at 22:08
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    @user71659 I should specify: prices at the cashier or the final amount you are told to pay. Of course, some places also only add tax when the bill is complete. – Jan Dec 19 '18 at 13:14
4

The problem is not such much that tipping insults Japanese people, rather that they just don't understand it. It isn't part of their culture.

Consider for instance the difference between Europe and America.

A European might go to a restaurant in America, get charged $38.60 and leave behind two $20 bills.

This is how tipping usually works in Europe; you just round up to the nearest whole unless service is truly exceptional and deserving of something extra.

The staff of the American restaurant however might take massive offense at this. They see it that this person is breaking social rules of tipping 15%. That the American minimum wage rules specifically include exceptions to make it so that you have to always tip to make sure waiters are paid right adds a further uncomfortable slant to the problem.

I've heard many stories of European visitors to the US being insulted or even chased down the street for not tipping the American socially expected amount.

On many things if we imagine the US on one extreme then Japan lies on the other.

In Japan the European paying a 4800 yen bill with a 5000 note will equally cause confusion amongst the staff as would the non-tipper in the US.

In Japan however the staff are not actually losing something by being overpaid like this, thus they are not angry or offended, rather they see that the customer has made a mistake and they must provide good service by making sure the customer gets his 200 yen back.

Try and explain that no, it is a tip, it belongs to them, and its just not something a typical Japanese person is used to. They don't get it. It's like a random man on the street coming up to you and giving you $2. I mean...everyone likes free money but....that's just weird. Its awkward for both of you.

Working in a restaurant isn't a position where you randomly get extra money so it carries the same awkwardness as a random man in the street giving you money.

However. This is not at all to say that monetary gifts are unwelcome in Japan. It must be done very differently however.

Firstly, as in China in Japan gifts of money must be handed over in envelopes. It is considered quite vulgar and uncough to hand someone money, or indeed any present, without proper packaging. Lots of shops carry special envelopes especially for handing over monetary gifts, repaying loans from friends, and other such transactions,

Secondly, to do this in the sense of tossing a few bucks at a restaurant you've only ever visited the once....well its weird. Its the random man giving you small change. Nobody does that.

If however, it is the new year, then it could perhaps be quite acceptable to give a gift to the landlord of a bar that you are a regular at. Maybe it is money in an envelope, better would be that you go out and actually buy something that he likes.

This is how tipping typically works in Japan. Relatively pricey gifts for established relationships. Not a few yen every time you go to a place.

2

You can tip taxi drivers, often to the nearest \¥500 or \¥1000, especially on short rides. For example, if the fare was \¥870, you could just give a thousand yen note and say that you don’t need the change. I’ve not had a driver refuse what is enough to buy a hot coffee at a vending machine.

0

They will probably be confused and/or think that you have forgotten to pick up your change.

There was once when I visited a post office in Japan and forgot to pick up my ¥50 (or probably ¥100) change at the counter. The post office lady actually raced out of the office to return the change to me. It's pretty embarrassing actually, to be honest.

So, I would not attempt tip at a restaurant, a post office, or anywhere like that. Most likely you will have an apologetic waiter/waitress chasing you out of the establishment and returning you the change.

I've heard you could tip a sushi chef, though, but I don't think that's true anymore because (1) I've never seen anyone do that; (2) this seems to be against accepted food safety practices (money is dirty and sushi chefs usually do not wear gloves). Especially, (2) is a concern, so I would advice against that as well.

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