Tipping Free Guides

Old Mar 13th, 2023, 06:20 PM
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Tipping Free Guides

The YMCA in Nara will provide free city guides. I certainly would expect to tip the person who shows us around for 4 hours. Has anyone else used these services in Nara or other places. What would be appropriate amount to give the person?
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Old Mar 13th, 2023, 06:53 PM
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You don't tip in Japan, and most likely they will refuse it. They are doing this to practice English, to meet new people, show off their town, or various other reasons. Buy them lunch, snacks or give them a wrapped gift from your hometown.
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Old Mar 13th, 2023, 07:41 PM
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Don't do it. Japan is different, You need to learn up, Rob.

lcuy covered it. I will offer my 2 yen, anyway.

Pay their way, lunch, admissions or tickets. And an arrigato gozaimashita.

The tip offer could be embarassing if not insulting. Polite Japanese, which is most, but not quite all of them all the time, don't want to tell you "no". You would at least put the guide in the uncomfortable position of having to do that.

At least that is my understanding of what the situation would be like for your guide. The appropriate amount is zero.

When you ask a Japanese a question and the reply, in English, is "that would be difficult" then the person is telling you "no". It is not possible.
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Old Mar 13th, 2023, 08:08 PM
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There is a lot of info out there about the cultural and etiquette differences in Japan (vs say, Ohio )
Tipping, speaking loudly, raising your voice, trash cans, waiting in line, other stuff. A lot of people are concerned about appearing rude, offensive, not following the customs. Maybe some are a bit too concerned. They have a lot of rules, but you get a break being a gaijin. It is worthwhile to learn enough Japanese to say "yes" "thank you", "I am sorry", "excuse me" (meaning pardon my offense or get out of the way), and "where is the toilet?".

youtubers post about thing not to do in Japan. probably something about it at japan-guide.com, jnto.go.jp and elsewhere. I would/do recommend "Culture Shock! Japan" but it is 30 years old now and expensive.

Nice castles, shrines, hot springs, etc in Japan. What is most fun and most interesting to me about visiting Japan is seeing the Japanese be Japanese, and trying to follow along.

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Old Mar 13th, 2023, 08:27 PM
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Just to be extra clear, when mrwunrfl says that there is no tipping in Japan, he means exactly that. You do not tip anyone, ever. Not your taxi driver (if you use taxis), not the maid who cleans your room, not a bell boy or concierge (if you stay in that kind of hotel), not wait staff, no one.

And yes, if you speak at the normal American volume, please tone it down. I recently ate in a restaurant for the first time in three years and was forcibly and unpleasantly reminded of how loudly many Americans talk. (I'm tempted to say shout.)
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Old Mar 13th, 2023, 09:02 PM
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I finally made it to the Hilton Otaru after a long and eventful trip from D.C. The check-in guy asked if I wanted help with my bags and to be shown to my room. I told him no thanks but he helped and showed me anyway. I was very grateful for the help and I definitely would have got lost finding the room, and probably trouble opening the door.

This was maybe my third trip to Japan and I knew better but I was so thankful that I offered a tip. I was exhausted and guess my brain was just wiped out by the trip. You woulda thought I offered him used TP given his reaction.

Left some coins in the change tray at the register in a restaurant and went out to the sidewalk. One of the girls ran out to hand me my 4 yen change, apologizing. Actually it was a bit amusing, so breaking the rule by not taking all of my change was worth it. That was in Nara, 2001, first trip,

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Old Mar 14th, 2023, 06:39 AM
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Thank you eveyone for the input. I did know the tipping custom in Japan and probably should have used the term donation. I heard back from the sponsor of the guides, Nara YMCA EGG along with information about the person that would be showing us the sites. It said that a donation would be appreciated. I certainly don't want to offend their culture but feel that their generosity should not be taken advantage.
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Old Mar 14th, 2023, 06:50 AM
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Presumably by donation they mean to the YMCA, not to the individual guide. Why do you think you are "taking advantage" of a volunteer? If they were not getting something they value from the interaction they would not be doing it. There are people who see value other than in monetary terms.
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Old Mar 14th, 2023, 09:02 AM
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That was smart to ask them. After all, YMCA is a nonprofit/charity that accepts donations. I had not considered that fact, duh. If you want to give a donation then I suggest putting it in an envelope.Could write "YMCA" on it.

Use the envelope because passing cash hand-to-hand is not the thing in Japan, though it happens more these days. For example, you put your payment in the tray next to a cash register, the cashier picks it up and puts your change in the tray. (And you take all the change so that they don't have to run after you.)

The etiquette of exchange business cards (meishi) would have you hand over your card with one hand, as if it is an unimportant thing to them. But you receive a meishi with both hands because it is important and you are honored to receive it. Something like that.

As far as the donation goes, you would, just naturally because it is the way you do it, hand over that cash envelope with one hand. Would be mildly interesting to see how it is received.

Not donating would not be taking advantage, I think. It is not that they are getting something of value in a transaction. They are out to do good deeds, give to others, as Christians should do, right? You can just accept their generosity. Yeah your guide might be Christian.
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Old Mar 14th, 2023, 10:30 AM
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I used a voluntary guide in Koyasan a few years ago now. I can't recall the name of the organisation we used but it was certainly an "official: organisation. I asked in advance what the requirements were and advised that a donation to the guide would be appreciated as would buying her lunch. They kindly even advised the amount 1000 and to put it into an envelope so as not to cause offence/embaraasment. We did all of this and forgot all about it until a few hours later, as we were about to leave the temple for the station, a breathless guide came running after us as we walked to the station. She opened the envelope and showed us the 10,000 note I had put into the envelope- oops! Anyway, fortunately for us we had a spare 1,000 note which we put into the envelope and handed back to her.

I could be wrong, but am pretty sure that the donation/tip/gift was for the individual.

I agree entirely with the premise about tipping in strange lands. I just got involved in a "discussion" on the Tripadvisor Argentina forum where a German took issue with and American for insisting on tipping 20% even though the going rate is 10% or less.

As for the much vaunted Japanese politeness, formal or structured interaction might be a better description. I have even found some interactions to border on racist. Lost count of the number ro times I have tried to get a seat at a traditional yakitori bar or even some "normal" bars only to be refused even when seats were clearly available. I know the usual explanation is that they don't feel that they can provide the service to a non Japanese speaker but that seems like BS. How can ordering a stick of pork or a beer get lost in translation?
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Old Mar 14th, 2023, 11:16 AM
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You are supposed to tip the person that takes care of you in a high-end ryokan....I have read that many times even very recently on another popular Japan discussion board - not that I have ever been in one...lol....

https://www.ryokancollection.com/ryokan_manual/

Also sometimes the 'free' guides receive some money but that is basically for their expenses to get to where they meet you....plus you buy them lunch and any entrance fees....
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Old Mar 14th, 2023, 11:29 AM
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>> advised that a donation to the guide would be appreciated
ok, then

>> formal or structured interaction might be a better description.
It is that. But, isn't that what politeness is everywhere? I think there is more of it in Japan than in the US. Rude customer service is rare there (except maybe Kyoto), unlike some places in Europe.

There is discrimination of non-Japanese and it does rise to racism when they see me and make assumptions.
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Old Mar 14th, 2023, 11:44 AM
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I did not tip my Welcome Guides (in any country) but I did pay their expenses and buy them lunch/dinner.

I have not stayed in a ryokan since, even with local help, I was unable to find one willing to accommodate a single foreigner.

The xenophobia is real. I have had people stand on buses or sit further back in a lecture hall sooner than sit next to me. I confirmed that I was not imagining things with a woman who is married to a Japanese man and lived there for some years.
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Old Mar 14th, 2023, 11:51 AM
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Mara, yes, tipping the maid at a high-end ryokan was the one exception that I read about. Last November, I think I finally stayed in a place that would qualify for exception but it never occurred to me to leave a tip. Am pretty certain that it didn't matter to them in any case.

I stayed at the APA Kyoto Gion (a budget hotel chain) and there was an envelope on the nightstand with the maid's name on it. It was for a tip, but I knew the rules and ignored it. I get how they would learn to appreciate foreigners (Americans) bringing their tipping culture with them That was in 2001, before the foreign tourist boom! I think of it now as Kyotojin taking advantage of gaijin.
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Old Mar 14th, 2023, 12:01 PM
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"But, isn't that what politeness is everywhere?" Not really. There is a genuineness in many countries that seems absent in Japan. It seems way more formalised. When I was working I used to advise a number of Japanese banking and investment clients. Meeting their senior people at board or management level was fraught with issues of etiquette, pecking orders and who is introduced to whom and in what order etc. We even had training courses on how to conduct business meetings for Japanese companies.

Unlike in business relationships with western organisations where formalities were done away with as relationships were established, that never seems to be the case wit the Japanese . I guess both ways work.
In a similar respect, I don't really believe that every waiter and barman in the US really wants me to "have nice day". It is said for effect and a has become almost the equiavalent of the Japanese bow or Thai wai.

I guess all this is what makes for interesting travel. Wouldn't life be boring if we all behaved the same?

Rude customer service in Europe?? What could you mean? ​​​​​​​ I have never encountered a rude French waiter, an arrogant Italian or indifferent English barman - too f

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Old Mar 14th, 2023, 12:15 PM
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thursdaysd, i think your ryokan booking experience was mostly due to being a single guest. But I would not be surprised by a Western couple being turned away. We are scary, don't know the Japanese way, don't speak Japanese, will bother other guests, and they have plenty of Japanese customers who are more likely to return, so they don't need us. And we smell.

Try japanican.com for booking a ryokan. The website for a Beppu ryokan would not accept single guests.Two or more persons per room required as the charges are per person because of the incuded meals. But I booked it as a solo guest at japanican. At the time, the goverhmeht was basically paying money to citizens to be tourists Same story for a ryokan in Kinosaki Onsen a few years ago. I was treated well and no issue with being "only" a single guest (though I could see that my presence might feel like them losing money)
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Old Mar 14th, 2023, 12:34 PM
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opps

Last edited by mrwunrfl; Mar 14th, 2023 at 12:40 PM.
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Old Mar 14th, 2023, 12:40 PM
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I will have to think about the "genuineness" of politeness. I say please and thank you because I was trained to do it. Taught learned, practiced (usually). It is not rigid. The Japanese are more rigid in their ways (as I understand it). The business world really is a different world, even to the level of formality of the Japanese that you would use with different people.

I think you are probably not mixing friendliness with politeness. I have heard people say that Japanese are friendly, but I think they meant polite and kind. They are not nearly as friendly as Americans, ime. More formal than casual with people they don't know.
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Old Mar 15th, 2023, 01:11 AM
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The fear of foreigners in ryokans is still alive. They sometimes wear their shoes inside, go barefoot on the tatami or to the toilet, show up late for dinner or breakfast, expose tattoos, get into the baths before washing or scrub themselves with soap IN the baths. The innkeepers will then have to drain the tubs and clean them before anyone else can go in- wasting tons of water and time in the process. When DH and I first started going to Japan, the only way to book a ryokan was to call them. I spoke decent Japanese, had a Japanese surname, but still was often told they were full. I finally got around it by having my co-worker, (a Japanese national with an upperclass accent) make the calls and the problems disappeared. Online booking is so much easier!
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Old Mar 15th, 2023, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by lcuy View Post
The fear of foreigners in ryokans is still alive. They sometimes wear their shoes inside, go barefoot on the tatami or to the toilet, show up late for dinner or breakfast, expose tattoos, get into the baths before washing or scrub themselves with soap IN the baths. The innkeepers will then have to drain the tubs and clean them before anyone else can go in- wasting tons of water and time in the process. When DH and I first started going to Japan, the only way to book a ryokan was to call them. I spoke decent Japanese, had a Japanese surname, but still was often told they were full. I finally got around it by having my co-worker, (a Japanese national with an upperclass accent) make the calls and the problems disappeared. Online booking is so much easier!

I am just testing this cause lately I cannot seem to be able to reply..has something changed in past few days? If this posts, I guess I've figured it out!
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