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The Politest Country In The World.
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The Politest Country In The World.

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Japanese Hospitality
Women bowing - A typical display of Japanese Hospitality

Omotenashi, frequently translated as “Japanese hospitality”, draws together exceptional politeness with an ambition to create sustained peace and evade any prospect of conflict.

A traditional way of living in Japan, omotenashi is expected on a day-to-day basis. A much more amplified version of politeness than the one we are familiar with in Britain, people do not merely cup their hand over their mouth when they sneeze, but go as far as wearing surgical masks to evade infecting the people around them.

Another quirk of Japanese omotenashi includes neighbours taking gift-wrapped boxes of washing powder, prior to initiating house renovations - a kind gesture to aid a family with cleaning their clothes, given the amount of dust that will undoubtedly be scattered around.

Perhaps more of a globally known feature of omotenashi in Japan, is the way in which staff, general strangers in the street and acquaintances typically greet you with a bow and a irasshaimase (welcome)

Little though not insignificant aspects of omotenashi include the way shop assistants put a hand under your own when passing you your change, to prevent you from dropping any coins. It also wouldn't be surprising if when you exited the store, they continually bowed until you left their vision. A little different to the "Next please" of British cashiers.

In Japanese tradition, the more unknown you are to a family, the more politeness and hospitality you are shown. Indeed, this is the reason why travellers (gaijin – “outside people”) are so frequently subject to lavish gifts and special attention. Spanish Teacher, Carmen Lagasca, said “It still surprises me after nine years here [...] People bow when they sit next to you on the bus, then again when they get up. I’m always noticing something new.”

It's not even just human's that practice omotenashi either.

Roadwork signs incorporate the image of a bowing construction worker; Taxi doors open when you wander near; lifts apologise for keeping you waiting, and the toilet seat rises the second you enter the bathroom.

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