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Japan takes customer service very seriously, something that’s easy to see when even convenience store clerks are so dedicated to their job they’ll ask if you want your hot and cold purchases bagged separately, or else build a protective barrier between them. Hospitality standards are no joke, either, as illustrated by the tasks traditional innkeepers are expected to perform, such as carrying the dishes and utensils for full-course meals into and out of guests’ rooms.

It’s no surprise, then, that travelers in Japan have plenty of stories to tell about attentive inns and hotels, such as the 12 below from an online survey by web portal My Navi Woman in Japan.

One woman recalled the impressive service she received while she was in the midst of taking college entrance exams. Many schools have their own proprietary test, which must be taken at the campus. If an applicant is taking multiple exams in the same city over a period of days, it’s often easier to simply book a hotel for the duration rather than waste precious studying time going back and forth between home and the test sites, which is just what this woman did.

The staff of her hotel picked up on the reason for her prolonged stay, and seeing how hard the young lady was working, decided to give her a couple packs of Kit Kats. Ordinarily, free candy in and of itself is something to be happy about, but there was a reason for the specific brand. The Japanese pronunciation of the popular chocolate sticks sounds similar to kitto katsu, or “I believe you will succeed.” Kit Kat are a popular good luck charm for college applicants to carry with them on test day, and the woman was moved by the sweet sentiment shown by the hoteliers.

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Guests on more leisure-focused trips got special treatment, too, such as the woman who stayed at one of the Tokyo Disney Resort Hotels to celebrate her birthday. On her special day the woman went out to enjoy herself in the park, and later that night when she returned to her room she found a signed birthday greeting from The Little Mermaid’s Ariel waiting for her on her bed.

▼ A gesture all the more touching when you realize how hard not having legs must have made it for her to place the card there

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There was also a special surprise waiting in the room of a pair of travelers who spent their wedding night in the same hotel where they’d just had their ceremony. Japanese wedding receptions can be extremely busy affairs, with multiple speeches from the bride and groom themselves, as well as their bosses, colleagues, and other well-wishers. Sometimes the couple themselves don’t have time to eat, so when the newlyweds said goodbye to their guests and arrived at their room, they were happy to find a cake and selection of fruit laid out by the hotel staff, just for the two of them.

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Not all hotel guests are embarking on a new beginning, though, such as the two women who took a trip together celebrating their 20 years of friendship. After the two mentioned this to the staff of their inn as they checked in, the staff took it upon themselves to snap commemorative pictures of the two throughout their stay.

True hospitality means being there for your guests at bad times as well as good, though, which was the case with one 24-year-old woman. During her trip the zipper jammed on her makeup pouch, and unable to get at its contents, she made the difficult decision to cut the bag open. Not having brought scissors with her from home, she tearfully walked to the front desk to borrow a pair, where the clerk asked her what had her so shaken up. After she explained the situation, the clerk asked the woman to show him the fastener, which he then proceeded to unjam for her.

▼ As a general rule of thumb, it’s always better to try asking for help first before jumping to the solution of “cut stuff into pieces.”

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Another Japanese inn got high marks for crisis management from a woman who stayed there with a friend whose travelling companion had come down with a bad stomach-ache. In general, Japanese inns serve a course meal with the individual ingredients chosen by the chef, whose advanced culinary sense is assumed to make him even better at making the selections than the diners themselves. When the woman said her friend wasn’t feeling well, though, the hotel staff instead made her a bowl of the rice porridge known as okayu, a typical food given to people suffering from stomach pain or the flu in Japan.

▼ We hope they also gave her a break on her bill, too, considering how inexpensive okayu is to make.

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In fact, several respondents’ stories centered around food and drinks, such as that of the 33-year-old woman who made a dinner reservation at a hotel restaurant to mark her father’s retirement. Although she hadn’t mentioned anything to the restaurant staff, they overheard the family talking about the special occasion, and without being asked, brought out a cake and bottle of wine to add to the celebration.

▼ Even better than free Kit Kat

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Ordinary meals won praise from travelers, too. Despite sashimi being a widely loved food in Japan, not everyone in the country loves raw fish, including a 25-year-old woman who asked if her inn could cook the portion that came with her breakfast. Not only did the chef comply, the guest was served the same cooked fish on the second morning of her stay, as well.

▼ How anyone could say no to this is beyond us, but to each her own.

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Many Western-style hotels in Japan are popular for serving afternoon tea and the assorted light fare that goes with it, such as cucumber and egg sandwiches. One 34-year-old woman doesn’t care for the crunchy green vegetables, however, and asked the hotel wait staff to hold the cucumbers on hers. Far too hospitable to serve up a lowly egg-only sandwich, they did her one better by instead substituting eggplant and the pumpkin-like squash called kabocha.

▼ This could have backfired terribly if the woman happened to also hate kabocha, but seeing as how she mentioned the hotel on a survey about great customer service, we’re guessing that wasn’t the case.

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Even drinks without any accompanying food can brighten a traveler’s journey. In Japan, travelling by train often means a walk from the nearest station to your lodgings, which means exposing yourself to the elements. One grateful woman arrived at the check-in counter sopping wet from the rain. After showing her to her room, the clerk reappeared moments later with a warming cup of tea. A summertime traveler had a similar experience when as she checked out, the clerk presented her with a bottle of chilled green tea to keep herself hydrated with during the humid afternoon.

▼ Tea, the drink for all seasons

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More than anything else, it was these small bits of kindness that resonated with guests more than anything else. Best illustrating this was a 38-year-old woman who annually takes a trip and stays in the same hotel. Whenever she arrives, she finds some candy and a letter from the staff in her room, thanking her for always choosing to stay with them.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s really not such a big deal, and it’s unlikely the hotel has to spend more than five minutes for the whole thing. Even still, showing that they remember the woman, and making her feel like the hotel is her home away from home, is what keeps her coming back year after year.

Source: Ameba News
Top image: Iwate Kenpoku Kanko
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