Omotenashi – The Japanese Philosophy that Changed Hospitality 

 

 

Omotenashi (pronounced as oh-mo-te-nash-ee) is a Japanese principle and philosophy that originated from tea ceremonies in Japan and has been passed down from generation to generation. It can be translated as “hospitality”; however, the meaning engraved in the word is much deeper. 

The philosophy includes the way in which customers are treated, and has three distinct values: empathy, anticipation and authenticity. All three of these values have equal importance in omotenashi 

Empathy / Kyōkan 

 

This value encompasses respect and consideration for the customer, which is a give-and-take marriage; the customer also shows respect for the time they are choosing to spend at your business instead of going to another place. In Western culture, the philosophy “the customer is always right” is similar to omotenashi; however, this Japanese principle extends further into a deeper understanding of the customer’s expectations and desires.  

Anticipation / Shikake 

 

Attention to detail is key with this philosophy; the customer’s every need is anticipated and a great effort is exerted in order to meet these needs. Every member of staff must have a desire to understand the customer and believe that there is no task that is too difficult or menial. Even non-customer-facing employees must have this value deeply rooted in them in order to ensure that the customer has the best experience possible.  

Authenticity / Shinbyōsei 

 

This value focuses on how the employee truly views the customer. They must be grateful for the customer’s time and choice of coming to their business, and exude this authentic warmness whenever they interact with the customer. Every employee must strive to make each customer feel as valued as possible throughout their stay.  

This philosophy can earn a customer’s loyalty for a lifetime. 

 

Brands like Mitsubishi who have used the omotenashi principle to build their automobiles and have also built a high level of trust with their customers. Furthermore, the business will benefit from customer loyalty and having positive word-of-mouth.  

Japan’s hospitality industry is well-known for being customer-orientated and one-of-a-kind. The use of omotenashi as the main philosophy, particularly in restauarants and Japanese inns, has been the aspect that has brought many people to come to the country in order to experience the authentic Japanese culture.  

To conclude, the adoption of this principle for a business will train employees to provide the best experience possible to the customer, with as little exertion as possible from the guest. It will enable the business to improve its products and services by observing and understanding the desires of its customers. The effort made by employees will be rewarded; customers will have confidence that they are in good hands and there will be an intimate and trusting environment.