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Tipping in Japan? Not needed! But here are 3 ways to show your gratitude

One thing that may surprise tourists from the United States and Europe is that in Japan, a tip is not required. If you do attempt to, they may reject you, which ends up with everyone feeling down. Here are three ways to give your thanks and express gratitude instead of tipping.

1. Express gratitude instead of tipping; Arigato (Thank you).

The word “Arigato” (Thank you) has the same effect any tip would in Japan. These words make everyone involved feel pleased. If you use “Arigato-gozaimasu” (Thank you very much)" and “Arigato-gozaimashita” (also, Thank you very much) which has the same definition but expresses it more politely, it will leave everyone with a better impression of you, but even just using “Arigato” which is a more casual expression, said with sincerity, it is still effective in place of a tip.

Japanese people often say “Sumimasen” (Excuse me), and express their modesty. It plays a big part in Japanese culture. When you want to express your gratitude to Japanese people, you should use the word “Arigato” regardless of the situation.

2. Express gratitude instead of tipping; giving compliments

I recommend using compliments if you are confident and skilled in Japanese. Since Japanese people have a deep-rooted perception that it is natural to do work or service without recognition, compliments are very precious to them and they tend to feel happy when they receive them. Receiving compliments is always nice especially to adults. In particular, a compliment from a foreign tourist would be surprising for those who have had only a few opportunities to meet foreigners.

Such an interaction will give Japanese people a special feeling more than any tip could. When dealing with any service and with the exchange of money you can use “Arigato”. You can even say "Good job". If you want to convey your gratitude in Japanese but are not confident in your ability to express yourself, you can do so by saying "You're so kind." and tell them how happy you are for the services they have provided for you. If you feel that “Arigato” is not enough, I recommend praising others with compliments.

3. Show your appreciation; bow

In some cases, the words we use to express ourselves don’t have the desired effect, so in Japan, people often use “Ojigi” (a bow) to express their gratitude and sincerity to others without the use of words. There are 3 types of bow. To make a light greeting, bend your upper body by about 15 degrees. As a way to show respect, tilt your upper body by about 30 degrees. This deeper bow is politer than the 15 degree version. If you really want to express your gratitude even further, you can do so by tilting your upper body by about 45 degrees.

Many Japanese people often mistake this type of bow, but you should try to visually understand how the bow works in Japan. Japanese people sometimes feel embarrassed to communicate with foreigners as they sometimes lack confidence. Although, they may open their hearts and think that foreigners know and understand Japanese culture if they can bow. Saying “Arigato” just before you leave a meeting will express your gratitude more than a tip ever could.

What does the Japanese word "Kimotip" mean?

In Japan where there is no tip culture, the “kimo-tip” (feeling + tips) book cheque is kinda like a Japanese version of tipping. There are 4 types, including “Arigato”, “Gochi-sou-samadeshita! (Thank you for the meal), “Oishu-gozaimashita” (it was delicious) and "Blank Type", where you can write your own message.

It is a delightful item for both the giver and the receiver, but depending on what you write and who you give it to, it might not have the intended effect. There are also cases where it is used to help approach the opposite sex but sometimes it won’t go as planned. Unfortunately, the blank cheque is not available at the moment. It is a good concept, but it is better to refrain from using it in a shop. We recommend you use the other 3 ways mentioned in this article to convey a better feeling of gratitude. Japanese people respect it more if you express your gratitude to others without depending on a certain object.

Instead of giving a tip, you can sometimes thank someone by saying “Arigato” (Thank you) which is valued more. Saying “Arigato” (Thank you), praising someone for their actions and kindness, or bowing are great ways to show appreciation. Remember this whenever you feel like giving a tip to someone in Japan.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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