Leaving tips in Japan makes you look suspicious. Pay attention to the cultural differences!
Outside Japan a sum of money left by a customer as a sign of gratitude for received service, is called a tip.
However, here in Japan, leaving tips is often seen as something suspicions, and in many cases money are returned without being accepted.
To non-Japanese this can appear to be confusing, but this is actually is a kind of Japanese national trait.
In Japan, especially in service industries, there is a specific concept of Japanese hospitality towards customers. This is the spirit, that can be explained as “taking actions that are aimed at satisfying customers is a natural thing to do”. If such actions towards customers are not performed, this would be equal to being impolite.
Tips are often left by customers in hotels and restaurants.
However, in Japan there is no need to leave any extra-payments. In case you left tips as a sign of gratitude, be sure a stuff would get run after you to, and the tips will be returned with the words like “Haven’t you forgotten something?” or “It seems like you overpaid your bill!”.
This is not because “the sup was too small” or “they won’t accept it unless you add more”, the thing is in Japanese national features and customs, according to which they are not used to receiving any extra payments for performed hospitality.
That is why, you should not be worried if your tips were not accepted.
Outside Japan, tips are left as a sign of gratitude. When you can not leave any tips you would probably get confused “How should I express my gratitude?”.
In this case it is enough just to say “arigato” or other words of gratitude and thanks in your own language.
Probably there are some of you who still keep asking themselves “is this enough?”, but staff would be pleased just to hear the words of gratitude from you.
Since service that is supposed to satisfy customers already comes as a natural thing, being rewarded with the words of gratitude by customers even increase the motivation for work.
So, please, instead of leaving tips reward the staff with the words of your gratitude.