Special FeatureWelcome to the Land of Hospitality
A surprising number of services and products in Japan include something special to offer a warm welcome and an extra touch of thoughtfulness, for greater convenience and comfort.
Written by Tsuchiya Komei Photos by Takano Akira and Kono Toshiko
Other photo credits: Toyota Motor Corporation and TOTO Ltd.
Soon after you sit down in a coffee shop, restaurant or bar in Japan you will almost certainly be given a small moist hand towel with a glass of water or a cup of green tea. The towel, called o-shibori, is for wiping your hands and even your face. The towel is hot in the winter, cold in the summer — always refreshing and relaxing.
All taxis in Japan have a special rear door on the left side — it opens automatically to let you in, then closes itself after you. Well, almost. Actually, the taxi driver operates a lever to do this for you. All you do is slip in and take it easy. (In Japan, road traffic drives on the left.)
Information panels tell you what you want to know when you are waiting for a train or bus, and once you are on board. Train platforms have electronic signboards giving arrival times (left), and the on-board LCD panel will tell you the next station stop (center). Some bus stops have a countdown board announcing the next arrival (right).
Buy a book in a bookstore and the clerk will wrap it in a paper cover (right). The cover, perhaps with the store's name printed on it, helps keep the book clean and neat, and if you do not want others to know what you are reading, a cover will help. It could be this is something only the at-times finicky Japanese would think of and want.