No Tipping in Japan: Why I Love It –

Mr. Pink Was Right

Photo by Sam Dan Truong on Unsplash

I moved to Japan nearly six years ago, and one of the things that took the biggest getting used to was the lack of tipping. In America, where I’m from, it is customary to tip waiters, bartenders, valets, taxi drivers, and many other services. But in Japan, tipping is considered rude.

At first, I missed the opportunity to show my appreciation (or my disdain) with how much I tip, but now I love the no-tipping culture in Japan.

When Tipping Goes Wrong

A recent story about a DoorDash delivery in America, shows one example of how tipping can go wrong

In the story, a DoorDash server received a tip that was much lower than he had expected for his services, so they delivered their meal high in a tree and then berated the customer over text messages. Once this story went public, it became a big debate on TikTok over who was in the wrong: the server, or the one who didn’t tip as much as he “should” have.

These are some of the many problems that can come with tipping. It may trigger or enable a sense of pride and entitlement for everyone involved.

Despite No Tipping, Service Is Excellent

Let me clear, I do not think tipping is all bad. But there are some pro-tipping arguments that I used to think was true, but now would have to disagree with.

For example, one perk I have heard from defenders of tipping is that service will inevitably lower in quality over time without it. However, in Japan I rarely, if ever, see this as a true outcome.

This may be due to the Japanese culture being so focused on politeness and avoiding “shameful” or rude behavior at all costs. But, from my many experiences across Japan, I’ve been very pleased with the rate of excellent service, despite each server never expecting a tip afterwards. And, in America, I’ve experienced plenty of times when the server provides terrible service despite their dependence on tipping.

Of course, no matter what culture you are in, no one is perfect and we are all human. So, you still will run into bad service every now and then, no matter where you are in the world.

In the end, it is a credit to the general populous of any non-tipping nation when they embrace an ideal that most of us appreciate and admire in others: Doing good for goodness’ sake

(Especially here in Japan, when Santa Claus may be watching with buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken or coal to DoorDash deliver into your trees.)

Photo by Keriliwi on Unsplash

My Experience With Expecting Tips In Japan

Throughout my travels in Japan, it has been quite a different experience from what I’m used to in America. I’ve even become quite accustomed to not tipping. Years ago, my Japanese wife and I went back to America for a few months, and she had to remind me to tip our server at least 5 times or more!

The closest thing I ever saw to tipping in Japan was a restaurant that pre-charged for each seat and bread basket at the table, but did not tell us this until we had finished the entire meal. The food was fine, but it was not worth paying extra for each chair and piece of bread at the table. To make a long story short, we never went back to that particular establishment.

With now almost decades of time spent in both America and Japan, I think not tipping is one of the things I love most about Japan. Without tipping, I have one less thing to worry about when I’m out enjoying myself. And to be honest, it’s probably one of the many reasons I find myself being able to relax a lot easier here.

(I won’t even mention how safe Japan is compared to America. Tipping is way less complicated…) 

Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash

More Gratitude and Kindness — Less Pressure

I feel it is very important to note how grateful we should be when someone goes out of the way do things without expecting rewards such as money or tips; because really what is better than kindness?

It has become a refreshing release of pressure knowing that while living in Japan I never have to calculate any tip amount, or worry about what message my tip may send to a server. I also do not have to worry about explaining myself to any others who may disagree with my reasoning for the amount I decided to tip.

Don’t Tippy, Be Happy (In Japan, at least)

All in all, I much prefer the no-tipping culture here in Japan. It’s cheaper, more relaxed, and everyone seems a lot happier!

So… maybe Mr. Pink actually has a point.

What do you think about the no-tipping policy in Japan? Do you think that other countries would benefit from adopting a no-tipping policy?


I hope these thoughts are helpful. Thank you so much for reading. I Agape-Love you all.

Until next time, God bless.

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