I apologize in advance to those who happened on this page and while reading it felt that they were being preached to by some arrogant amateur about something that any normal adult and human being should know; that’s why I put off adding this page but after talking with many a staff about their experiences and their situations, I felt a strong urge to say my “two yen” on my blog.
As a fan of Kyoto’s locally based cafes and restaurants and as a customer who thinks of the staff of these establishments like friends and/or family, I hope that anyone who visits them will feel, even a little, or eventually feel the way that I do. In order to have a great Kyoto café/restaurant experience, I feel that it would be helpful to keep the following in mind:
❀ Ordering one item on the menu per person…since there is no tipping when dining out in Japan and very few places charge for seating, it is crucial that each person order at least one thing on the menu, about ￥500 is preferred although not expected…the longer that one stays, it would be nice if another order is made but it’s not required unless one stays over two hours. Some places may be too nice to tell customers this (that’s Kyoto for you, you “read the air”) but I bet that many feel this way.
❀ Expect for the possibility of orders taking time…especially during lunch and dinner hours and when there are only one or two people on staff to attend to everyone’s orders, it may not be possible for one to get his food in 10 minutes, especially because most places prepare the food upon receiving the order (at least the places of which I’m fond). If you want food fast, it’s best to hit the convenient stores or a coffee chain like Starbucks but then even a chain fast food joint or restaurant takes time at times.
❀ Ask to take pictures first…there’s the possibility that pictures aren’t allowed at all or only food and pictures of oneself are allowed and in the cases that it’s okay, many will ask that one take pictures without other customers in them and without walking around if it means that one will bother other customers. I’ve heard of and have even saw customers who still sneak shots or just ignore these requests which is VERY disrespectful…I wonder if they would like it if I a total stranger went in to their bedrooms and just started taking pictures of everything. Of course one may think such a case is totally different, because a café is a public facility, but if one thinks of the thought and care that the owners put in to creating them, it’s understandable that to a certain extent we the customers are invading the owners’ private space.
Many locally based establishments don’t pressure their customers to leave because there is a line outside because they truly want one to enjoy his visit and feel welcome to come back again, whether one is a regular or a first-timer; this is why I feel that Japan’s service is the best in the world. However, I know a few customers “read the air” by having their food and quickly scuttling out, including devout regulars like me;)…in my case I just want more customers to enjoy their visit to a great establishment because there’s nothing like being turned away when one makes the effort to make it there in the first place.
In many places around the world, the service industry executes “the customer is always right” way of thinking and Japan definitely excels at this. However, there are customers who abuse this “right” and push irrational expectations when being served and in Japan not many servers will talk back except to apologize profusely for the wrong that they had not done. The only way to get excellent service and have an unforgettably wonderful experience is to be an excellent customer by obliging to the ways of an establishment and keep a thankful heart for the service, and above all treat others as one would like to be treated (the Golden Rule is gold for a reason;)). Even if one does this and the service is bad, it’s then on the heads of the staff. Fortunately, most of my experiences have included lovely establishments and customers just as lovely who leave with a cheerful “thank you” or “ありがとうarigatou“.
I hope that my “two yen” didn’t rub anyone the wrong way…if it did, I just ask that he forgets what’s been read or assume that these words don’t apply to him.☺ お願いしますO-negai shimasu.m(__)m