A day in the bank and the meaning of omotenashi

If you don’t know, Japanese language contains the unique term お持て成し (omotenashi), which means ‘hospitality; reception; treatment; service; entertainment​’ according to jisho.org. However, the word’s accurate meaning is combined with the traditional Japanese view towards hospitality, and how it is expressed when treating visitors. The basic point lies in the fact that the host tries to do anything in their power to anticipate and fulfill the visitor’s every need, all while avoiding to appear as ‘servile’. Not only worded needs, but also implied expectations are taken care of, accompanied by kind gestures such as a cute note or a fragrant flower bouquet. The Japanese government is now using the word as part of their promotion campaign in light of the 2020 Olympics.

Yesterday, I observed another example of Japanese thoughtfulness, not in a hotel, but in a random boring bank branch. A female customer visited the bank together with her 4yo child. As soon as she was being assisted by an employee, another employee took the child on the side and started reading to him a children’s book, explaining the pictures and meanings of the story. Firstly, I was surprised that there was bank staff available for baby-sitting. Secondly, I was more surprised that the bank had prepared colorful children’s books for that specific case. That’s a true expression of ‘omotenashi’ and I am immensely grateful that I can to experience it in daily basis. Because of knowing first-hand how relaxed and honored the guests feel when receiving such a treatment, I try to return the favor whenever I get the chance. You can try it, too!


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