(Photograph: Gena Okami)
From the land of the Rising Sun, I bring some stories of warm hospitality that would surely bring in some warmth to all my beautiful people in Assam, who are also well known for hospitality all over. In fact, I am about to share some spell binding experience that I had come across in this beautiful land of Japan. And it is all about the unique etiquettes of how social interactions happen in this land. Through my experience, I’m going to tell about the concept of Omotenashi which means Japanese hospitality. So, in the word Omotenashi, Omote means what one wishes to present to the outside world and Nashi means nothing. Combining the duo, it means the service given from the bottom of the heart that is honest, true and pure. No matter to which nook or corner of this country you travel, as a customer you will feel like the most important person in the place you visit. With their long greetings wearing the warmest smile, uttering “Irasshaimase” (meaning- greeting to a customer once he/she enters a shop) to their appreciating bows followed by the common Japanese phrase- “Arigatou Gozaimashita” (meaning- a thankyou note conveyed for visiting their store) , these noteworthy hospitality gestures are witnessed everywhere by every customer in this country that implicitly adds it to one of the remarkable facets of their glorious hospitality culture. Say, you visit a hospital, the moment you enter and until you leave, right from the reception counter to interacting with other hospital staffs, you will indiscriminately experience the warm hospitality traditions, that it makes a patient feel much better at that very moment. Say, you visit a restaurant, you will be overwhelmed with humble bows the restaurant staffs reciprocate/ bestow upon you through their service, let alone the delicious meals, you’ll feel is worth the pay. Even, in the peak office hours, you can see some train station’s attendants do not forget and miss out a chance to greet you with a bow as you hurriedly rush to catch your train. This is a feeling that is too difficult to express through words as one can get the genuine feeling only by experiencing it.
Unwrapped with the cleanest surroundings, the country stands out from all when it comes to the theory of perfection with respect to spotless remarkable spirits of professionalism and its scrupulous punctuality etiquette's. Right from taxi drivers, to train conductors, bus drivers, hospital staffs, restaurant staffs, electricians, both private and Government professionals, in short, any person in any profession is always seen equipped with their clean neatly pressed uniforms, always ready at your door for offering their service. In any shop you enter, you do not feel intimidated rather you can take your own time and space, enjoying the most relaxed hours admiring the displayed products, whether you purchase it or not. In this context, would like to share this small beautiful incident encountered by my husband in one of the Japanese Restaurants.
It was around 12:30 p.m. in the afternoon and like every day, my husband walked out for his Hirugohan (lunch time). He ordered a Japanese set meal that constitutes sticky rice, sesame boiled chicken, spinach, salad and miso soup (a healthy traditional Japanese soup). Usually, the entire set comes together, but on that day, the waitress fetched the miso soup around 5 minutes late. As my husband was happily enjoying his lunch, the waitress rushed to him with another cup of miso soup.
“Excuse Me Sir, we are really sorry for the delay. Your soup must have got cold, please take this new hot cup of soup, and hand me over the earlier one. Sorry once again”, said the waitress with a timid kind gesture.
So, this is what Japan is like and such heartfelt moments can only be experienced in this land, that makes you feel so good. The essence of their amazing culture is gratitude and mindfulness.
Another, incident I would like to recount is about a fine summer evening when my husband and I went for a walk and after a few rounds we sat down near a roadside bench as we got tired. As we were sitting, an old Japanese man passed by us who was seen walking with his dog. Despite being leashed, the dog dragged itself to come near us and my husband for his immense love for dogs, didn’t wait to play with it. When finally, the dog realized his master must be feeling bad, he pulled itself away and returned to his master. And to our surprise, the old man greeted to us with a bow with “Arigatou Gozaimasu” means “thank you very much” with a warm smile. It was hardly for around 2 minutes we might have entertained his dog that in no time he expressed us his gratitude with a cordial bow. Well, there are much more such beautiful experiences that I would like to share in rest of my pieces ahead. Such small precious moments are really to be treasured for these things are rare in the people around us today but, is the most amazing experience we had and knowing about the Japanese way of making social interactions. A happy smile, a humble expression of gratitude with mindfulness is all what the human world today, need it most of the time and this often needs to be practiced and learnt from the Japanese people. This country is known for its culture, traditions and for having a strong sense of duty. Apart from these Japan also stands out as the world’s best customer service provider with its most genuine hospitality, profound etiquette's and pleasing aura.
[Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Publisher.]