No need to tip any Smith’s English School teachers or anyone else in Japan! Jim here, franchise owner and teacher at Smith’s School in Sagamihara. Many know that I come from the northeastern United States. Tipping is a custom in the USA that many people don’t understand. Upon moving to Japan many years ago, I was pleasantly surprised that it isn’t necessary here.
My students here at Sagamihara are always curious about tipping and interested to learn more, especially if they are planning a trip abroad. In fact, any student that is planning to go abroad to a tipping culture always gets a special lesson here at my school. I always enjoy teaching them a little bit about my home culture. So, who gets a tip in America?
Restaurant servers, taxi drivers, hotel concierge and cleaning staff, room service and delivery people, bartenders, hair stylists and barbers, masseuses, airport shuttle drivers and porters…And the list goes on… Confusing, isn’t it? Here is a good guide for beginners: https://www.americamybeautiful.com/usa-tipping-etiquette/
Customer Service; No Tip Necessary in Japan
This is one of the many aspects of Japan that I admire. Any type of service received (including Smith’s English teachers!) is always of top quality, whether it be a convenience store, restaurant, hotel, delivery, etc. In fact, it is always so good that I REALLY WANT TO TIP THESE PEOPLE! But it isn’t proper, and can actually seem insulting to them. Courtesy and respect are two of many well-ingrained cultural attributes of Japan. That, combined with the training received, results in service that is nothing less than amazing. While it seems normal to Japanese citizens, it is quickly noticeable to anyone traveling to Japan for the first time. It all begins at the airport.
Airport Arrival in Japan
Upon landing at any airport in Japan, you will notice that most everyone is wearing some type of uniform, even the cleaning staff. Airports are easy to navigate and the choices of ground transportation are quite good. There are trains, which are clean and on time, as well as limousine busses. The taxis are always pristine, drivers professional and courteous. Language is not a problem because signs are posted in English, Korean, and Chinese. Airport staff are always ready to help, and most speak English. It is indeed a pleasant surprise when arriving to Japan, and even moreso when you realize that no one expects a tip, no matter where you go. Sylvester, one of my English teaching colleagues here in Japan, https://smithweb.co.jp/kyobashi/ writes an interesting blog about one of his trips to Nara here: https://sse-franchise.com/exploring-nara/ Certainly no tipping in that historic city!
I do have one confession to make though, concerning the delivery workers. They work very hard, and are always in a rush to deliver on time (scheduled deliveries are normal). I really feel for them during the summer months. They arrive at the door looking tired and hot, so I always “tip” them with a cold bottle of water! They appreciate it, and it’s the least we can do for such good service! Please visit Japan! Better yet, try living here! Thanks for reading!
Jim, Smith’s School of English, Sagamihara
No need to tip in Japan!