Then there was the speech by Christel Takigawa. In perfect French she ensured while the whole world was watching that Japan would be a great host and that that had something to do with a Japanese concept called "omotenashi" or, freely translated, hospitality. Her speech explained a big deal about this word and what it means to the Japanese as you can see here. Now what you might be wondering is what you can actually expect of this omotenashi on your travels to Japan.
Below is a list of experiences and encounters you may have with this concept when you come to Japan; although they might be extremely usual and might go unnoticed by natives, most of these things are actually quite unusual for for example American and European cultures.
The first time I tried to get into a taxi and reached for the door, I was shocked when the door opened by itself. Likewise, when leaving the car, I automatically reached for the door to shut it, only to grab empty air for the door already had closed by itself. Not only the doors, or actually the driver who controls the doors, but also the service spirit of the driver is really something else in Japan. Instantly jumping out of the car to carry your luggage and put it in the truck, of course without asking for a tip? That is maybe normal for a taxi in Japan, but elsewhere this might be very much unthinkable.
2. High speed bullet train (shinkansen 新幹線)
Many tourists have said to be surprised by the excellence of the service provided by the High Speed Bullet Trains that head for distant places all over Japan. The high speed bullet train is almost never fails to arrive and depart exactly on time. Furthermore, the cleaning personnel that cleans the interior of the train in just a matter of seconds, not only do their job efficiently and quickly, they also hold pride in their job and or amazingly polite and friendly towards the customers.
The Japanese cuisine is really something else. Not only is it extremely delicious and bound to have something you will love even if you for example don't like fish or rice, it is also really pretty. In the Japanese food culture, the appearance of the food is also very important to the whole experience, and one can really feel the effort that is put into it.
4. Department stores
There are so many and wonderful department stores in Japan, usually inside or directly connected to the bigger stations. You can really spend hours and hours strolling through the different departments and look at all the gorgeous stuff they sell; which can generally be a little bit expensive. But even if you don't buy anything, you will not be looked upon any differently as any other customer and everyone receives the same amazing politeness and service. Once I forgot all about the time and stayed in such a store until closing time, at which point the remaining customers were friendly asked to leave the building, escorted by numerous salespersons bowing their heads and repeating arigatou gozaimashita! (thank you very much), to every single customer. I felt really bad for not having bought anything...
Just the fact that they are almost anywhere, free to use and clean. Enough said.
Besides these 5 examples, there are much more situations in which you can feel the Japanese omotenashi; you just have to go there yourself to experience it. If you decide to go to Japan for a first time, be prepared to experience a whole different kind of idea of service you have known until now!