Japanese Company Introducing Tipping System at Some Restaurants
J Pop Exchange Logo Sakura Heading Photo

Japanese Company Introducing Tipping System at Some Restaurants

By Elizabeth Gibson for The J-Pop Exchange

Over in Japan, tipping is not really a part of the culture.

So, for example, if you dine out at a restaurant, the price on the bill is what you pay. But one Japanese company is trying to change that.

Tip Project, a new Japanese company, has launched an effort to introduce a tipping system into the country’s culture. The company says its mission is to motivate employees and help restaurants that suffered losses because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company -- which is being spearheaded by several Japanese celebrities, including best-selling author Takafumi Horie, comedian Akihiro Nishino and YouTube personality Yoshihito Kamogashira -- aims to see tipping culture spread throughout Japan to help service industries that have been hit hard by the pandemic.

Online in Japan, the reaction has not been supportive of the idea:

“If you put this in, the basic salary will be suppressed,” one commenter said on 5ch.

“Since I don’t understand why anyone would want this culture, if rich people in Japan want to tip, it’s fine if they want to,” said another.

“This doesn’t suit Japan,” another put succinctly.

Some are fine with the idea of tipping, but don’t like the idea of a company essentially becoming the middle man in between the restaurant patron and the server making the tip:

“If people want to pay [a tip], that’s fine, but why are these unrelated folks [at the Tip Project] getting in the middle of that?” they asked in the forum.

Tip Project recently produced and uploaded a video to YouTube explaining their idea and introducing tipping. The comments on the video have been turned off.

In the video, a sullen looking server is shown to be slacking on the job, like when he’s checking his phone while cleaning up. When a woman comes in and the server offers her a blanket, she decides to thank him with a monetary tip, which is equivalent to about seven U.S. dollars. The clip ends with the server being more motivated at work.

Unlike tipping in the United States where restaurant patrons leave cash or add an amount to their credit card, the Tip Project has customers fill out a Premium Japan Tip ticket with their name, their server’s name, and an amount -- which seems way more complicated than just leaving money on the table.

Additionally, this tip ticket would eventually turn a profit for the company, which cements the fact that the venture wasn’t designed simply to help struggling restaurants and servers -- but to make the company money.

The project’s website reportedly listed 10 restaurants that have already implemented this optional system -- which given the size of Tokyo alone, isn’t very many at all.

And while the people involved, especially Horie and Nishino, are quite famous in Japan, there’s already a lot of resistance to the idea of tipping being imported.

Many people upset with the idea of tipping don’t think it will take off.


More by Elizabeth Gibson:

Cowboy Bebop’s live action adaptation coming this fall to Netflix

Anime To Watch While Quarantined