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Controversy over A Japanese Custom:
Seating Charge & Otohshi Appetizer

< Complaints from customers VS Claims from restaurants >
The origin of the word ‘otohshi’
allegedly comes from the verb “tohsu”
to show (guest) in, or to let (the order) pass.
 

Controversy over A Japanese Custom: 
Seating Charge & Otohshi Appetizer
< Complaints from customers VS Claims from restaurants > 

 

The origin of the word ‘otohshi’
allegedly comes from the verb “tohsu”
to show (guest) in, or to let (the order) pass.
Sophie: I don’t understand why I have to pay for a otohshi I didn’t want to eat.
Eye On KANAZAWA: Yeah, we understand your feeling. This custom is an old relic unique to Japan, continuing from the ages before the Meiji period. Until the number of international tourists coming to Japan started to increase, we didn’t think it was a problem.
S: Why do restaurants still follow such an old custom?
E: Well, most shops serving otohshi are located on a busy street where they have to pay a high rent, right? It’s understandable they have to make their business lucrative. If you were the owner observing some customers linger over one drink in a limited-seat restaurant for several hours, and newcomers were left no unoccupied tables to sit, how would you feel?
S: I would never engage in such thoughtless behavior!
E: Of course, you wouldn’t, but it takes all sorts as you know. Not all people in the world are so thoughtful.
S: I just don’t want to pay for what I don’t want to eat. Can I negotiate with the restaurant staff?
E: Well, some restaurants accept such a request, but some don’t. However, others have stopped serving a charged appetizer for foreigners only.
S: Oh, so I should ask them when I pick where to eat.
E: The best way for all is for customers and restaurants to try and understand each other. How about selectable otohshi? You can select one from several choices.
S: That will work for me if they offer!
Sophie: I don’t understand why I have to pay for a otohshi I didn’t want to eat.
Eye On KANAZAWA: Yeah, we understand your feeling. This custom is an old relic unique to Japan, continuing from the ages before the Meiji period. Until the number of international tourists coming to Japan started to increase, we didn’t think it was a problem.
S: Why do restaurants still follow such an old custom?
E: Well, most shops serving otohshi are located on a busy street where they have to pay a high rent, right? It’s understandable they have to make their business lucrative. If you were the owner observing some customers linger over one drink in a limited-seat restaurant for several hours, and newcomers were left no unoccupied tables to sit, how would you feel?
S: I would never engage in such thoughtless behavior!
E: Of course, you wouldn’t, but it takes all sorts as you know. Not all people in the world are so thoughtful.
S: I just don’t want to pay for what I don’t want to eat. Can I negotiate with the restaurant staff?
E: Well, some restaurants accept such a request, but some don’t. However, others have stopped serving a charged appetizer for foreigners only.
S: Oh, so I should ask them when I pick where to eat.
E: The best way for all is for customers and restaurants to try and understand each other. How about selectable otohshi? You can select one from several choices.
S: That will work for me if they offer!

Neat Guys Carry Small Envelopes for Tipping

You might believe that there is no custom for tipping in Japan, but actually that’s not true. Though this custom has gone out of favor in recent years, some guys who aim for sophistication still carry small envelopes called pochi-bukuro, in case of unexpected tipping. Usually Japanese people give a generous tip (3000-10000 yen) to staff at weddings, funerals, or a traditional ryokan. The difference is that we tip “before” an event or stay, compared with western customs. Tipping in advance means we appreciate their assistance in advance, and likewise expect them to do a good job for the duration.

Neat Guys Carry Small Envelopes for Tipping

 
You might believe that there is no custom for tipping in Japan, but actually that’s not true. Though this custom has gone out of favor in recent years, some guys who aim for sophistication still carry small envelopes called pochi-bukuro, in case of unexpected tipping. Usually Japanese people give a generous tip (3000-10000 yen) to staff at weddings, funerals, or a traditional ryokan. The difference is that we tip “before” an event or stay, compared with western customs. Tipping in advance means we appreciate their assistance in advance, and likewise expect them to do a good job for the duration.