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I was recently in Japan and a couple of my Airbnb hosts and a particular bookstore clerk were exceedingly kind and accommodating, even by the high standards of Japanese service. I left them the best review I could on Airbnb but I'm wondering if there's another way to thank them for such a service that has a more direct impact for them?

As an example of a direct impact, where I live, I would tip much more generously (even though I think tipping is a terrible system) but tipping isn't accepted in Japan.

What is a good way in Japan to thank or reward a small business for excellent service?

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I would leave a hand written thank you card at their place. If you think that’s not enough you can buy a small gift for their property. A Photo frame, or a mug for example.

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    For my travels to Japan, I prepared beforehand and took small, ephemeral trinkets I could give away and carry around easily for these kinds of occasions. Postcards from your home country with thanks in your native language and Japanese if you can write it should be good for small things. I also went to a creator's bazaar and since I interacted with people directly there, left small gifts like native bead bracelets or small keyholders. None of these were worth more than a US dollar each. – Eriol Oct 26 '19 at 15:19
  • I think it's dangerous to say "what will work in other parts of the world will work in Japan". It's simply very different. "Silent understand of a situation" is a real thing there. To make a bad analogy, in a military does a higher ranking officer want a thanks-gift from a lower, or vice versa - answer, no. Social norms are NOT universal in all situations. In Japan, pansy "foreign ideas" like gift mugs may just be seen as foreign and weakish. – Fattie Oct 26 '19 at 17:11
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    This is a good answer. Small presents are highly valued in Japan, according to the briefing I got from a knowledgable friend before travelling there on business some years ago. – Tom Oct 26 '19 at 18:20
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As you mentioned, tipping isn’t accepted in Japan. It can even be considered rude. As to the situation, you can thank the book store clearly and all you can do is leave them the best review you can.

Airbnb provides some guidance on this:

Should I tip my experience host?

It's up to you. Your host set a price they expect will fully cover your experience. We suggest you research cultural hospitality norms in your destination. If you want to show appreciation for your host, write a review encouraging other guests to book their trip.

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