More Lessons Learned from Japan

Following our special time in Singapore, Deb, Teri and I stopped in Tokyo for a few days of rest and relaxation.  Although it was my third trip there in three years, Japan never fails to impress me with the quality of their products and the high standards of service they consistently deliver.  I always leaving with new lessons to share on quality, teamwork and service.

Here are a few observations we made:

  • Japan looks and feels clean and safe, reflecting a respectful and disciplined society. I recall my nephew, who lives in Japan, once telling me that he left his laptop on the train but was able to retrieve it later from the train station.  I’m not surprised!
  • Pervasively, folks here come across as nice and well-mannered.  The people consistently deliver “Greet, Help, Thank” with feeling and a smile.
  • Japanese people work hard to master "kikubari" or the “art of anticipation.”   I went to get breakfast at a coffee shop that I found at the Ebisu train station near our hotel (The Westin Tokyo).  I ordered french toast for each of us (simple but so ono).  After filling a small plastic up with syrup, the server diligently taped the cap, with two strips of criss-crossed pieces of tape, to prevent any spillage.  Not sure if that would happen back home.
  • When Deb asked our hotel concierge if a shiatsu place she and Teri were interested in visiting had separate rooms for customers, the concierge called the establishment, got an answer, then drew a detailed picture of the spa layout.  She even drew stick figures laying in the massage beds.  They go the extra mile here!
  • Even though you are a visitor in their country, the Japanese often apologize for not speaking better English when you have trouble communicating.  It’s also not uncommon for them to stop in the middle of a transaction to find a worker that can speak English to assist you. One night at a restaurant, the server brought one of the chefs out from the kitchen to help us interpret the menu.  Another time at the market, the sales clerk asked me to wait and then ran around the entire floor looking for a bi-lingual co-worker to assist.  
  • Everything works to perfection. Trains leave as scheduled.  Each food item is meticulously wrapped and packaged.  If you’re lost and ask for directions, the person will make every attempt to help you and often even escort you to the place.  Small ice packs are placed on top of take-out foods to ensure they stay cold. Clerks point out expiration dates on food purchases so you know how long you have to eat it. Minature shoyu bottles accompany take-out sushi. The examples are endless!
  • Food here tastes unbelievably delicious.  We rated every meal we ate no lower than an “A” - even the fast food places.  Not only is the food delicious, it’s presented like artwork.  You almost feel bad breaking up the beautiful piece of food art. Debbie refers to the grocery stores (one of her favorite outings in Japan) as “food museums.”

In a New York Times article, Nicholas Kristof, proclaimed, "The Japanese people are, by and large, the nicest and most responsible people in the world.”

I couldn’t agree more!

Arigato, Japan!


Thanks for sharing Suzanne!  Glad to hear you made a positive difference on the health of the Singapore residents!  I hope you have a chance to go back one day soon.