12/06/2020

Japanese Hospitality: How the Japanese express “Thank you for coming”

Words to express gratitude are always lovely to hear more-so if the other party goes out of their way to speak it in your mother tongue. The Japanese language has a variety of words for similar situations with different tones, so make sure to say your thanks most appropriately.

Japanese Omotenashi Culture Explained

Omotenashi: Japanese Courtesy

Hospitality is a noble act of treating guests and visitors in a generous, friendly, and welcoming manner. The way guests and visitors are treated varies greatly in the culture of the people who are at the giving end.

In Japan, the act of being hospitable is mirrored in the infamous Omotenashi. It is the core of hospitality in Japanese culture. It is mainly about the commitment of providing wholehearted services and entertainment in a gracious and courteous manner towards others. This kind of attitude of being devoted towards looking after the guests and visitors focuses on rendering services with care rather than just merely going through what is expected of being hospitable.

Sen no Rikyu, the respectable Japanese tea ceremony master, is most often attributed to the origins of omotenashi. Sen no Rikyu believed that every guest's experience must be treated as an exemplary event, paying attention to every detail of the service to provide a memorable experience. Consequently, it is expected that both the host and the guest, even without flawless skills, must act with utmost sincerity and pure heart, offering service from the bottom of their heart.

In its literal expression, omotenashi simply means to entertain others in a wholehearted way - the Japanese concept of hospitality. However, to really comprehend and appreciate what wholehearted entertainment is, is to basically experience Japan personally.

Omotenashi Everywhere

Going the extra mile to serve well is seen not just in the restaurants in Japan, even in the shopping malls and in the hotels. For example, crafting the spirit of omotenashi in serving guests in the accommodations industry, once you enter the reception, a warm welcome from the lobby to the front guest relations officer is appropriately observed. Attention to details of the room linens, layered warmth, and styled beddings are creatively taken into account to give their guest the comfort and best experience possible while staying at the hotel.

At the Japanese restaurants, you can sense the sincerity of chefs preparing a menu that best describes their creative effort on the food they serve. And to give the best overall experience for the guests, even it means adding extra effort like personally picking the freshest ingredients available, passionately taking extra time to perfect the food, setting the food to a special plate to present the menu creatively, and making sure the taste and texture reflect the chefs omotenashi perspective, are always being considered. It gives sincere joy to the host and the guest at the restaurants, or even if dining and eating home-cooked meals at a Japanese friend's house, without asking for something in return.

Omotenashi in Modern Japan

In the modern Japanese era, omotenashi is still widely practiced. For example, preparing sushi in front of the customer. This action only shows the openness between the one who made the sushi and the customer. Another way of showing omotenashi through modernity is providing the staff with a specialized management system which will help them monitor the needs and preferences of the guests. The latter examples show how accommodating and welcoming Japanese people are especially when it comes to catering to the needs of their guests in both expected and unexpected manners.

Expressing Thank You For Coming

Generally, omotenashi is an exchange of showing respect and sincerity between the host and the guest - the host being the one who provides sincere services and the guest being the one who conforms to the sincere behaviors expected of them. Below are the common phrases to return a gesture:

ありがとう (arigatou) is the most basic and casual way of saying thank you but it can be made formal by saying ありがとうございます (Arigatou Gozaimasu), and it can also be made more formally by saying どうも ありがとうございます (Doumo Arigatou Gozaimasu).

Now let’s talk about how to casually thank someone for coming.

The most basic is:

  • 来てくれてありがとう。(Kite kurete arigatou) - “Thanks for coming”
    You would use this with good friends and family

You can use it in the following situations (You can add “gozaimasu” at the end of these situations to make it a little more formal:

  • Thank you for coming to meet me -  会いにきてくれてありがとう (Aini kite kurete arigatou)

  • Thank you for coming today - 今日来てくれてありがとう (Kyou kite kurete arigatou)

  • Thank you for coming to my birthday -  私の誕生日会に来てくれてありがとう(Watashi no tanjoubikai ni kite kurete arigatou)

  • Thank you for coming to my home - 私の家に来てくれてありがとう (Watashi no ie ni kite kurete arigatou)

For a more polite “thank you for coming”, we would say:

  • 来ていただきありがとうございます。(Kite itadaki arigatou gozaimasu.)

  • 来てくださりありがとうございます。(Kite kudasari arigatou gozaimasu.)

You may often hear the word わざわざ (waza waza) attached to the front of these two phrases - it means to go out of one’s way.

And in formal Japanese, “thank you for coming” is said:

  • お越しいただきありがとうございます。(Okoshi itadaki arigatou gozaimasu)

  • お越しくださりありがとうございます。(Okoshi kudasari arigatou gozaimasu.)

And in business, we have to change the form of the word “to come” entirely to suit the situation. You may hear and/or use these when shopping, at an event and when doing business.

  • Thank you for coming to this store - ご来店ありがとうございました。(Goraiten arigatou gozaimashita)

  • Thank you for coming to this event/place. ご来場ありがとうございました。(Goraijou arigatou gozaimashita.)

  • Thank you for coming to my (company) office。ご来社いただきありがとうございました。(Goraisya itadaki arigatou gozaimashita)

  • Thank you for visiting. ご来訪いただきありがとうございました。(Goraihou itadaki arigatou gozaimashita.)

And for extra emphasis on your appreciation/formality, you can add 誠に (makoto ni - truly) in front of arigatougozaimashita and say 誠にありがとうございました。makoto ni arigatou gozaimashita.

Summary

Japan's high regard for hospitality and etiquette is a culture that is well-practiced and preserved through different social classes. While the dynamism of Japanese language mirrors the social understanding of the different roles of the people in the society, such understanding strengthens the mutual respect between the people and the authorities.

These two essential Japanese cultures helped mold the Japan that we see today- modern, industrialized- yet well cultured.

Thus it is important to both understand and be able to express gratitude in Japanese.

Thanks for reading! - Yonde kurete arigatou gozaimasu!

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