The mount Fuji, Japan

I recently had the privilege to take a short trip to Japan in mid-September with my fiancée. While neither of us are Japanese, we loved all the unique things you can only find in Japan.

If you’ve never been to Japan, it is a very different culture than back in North America. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. You can definitely apply some aspects of Japanese business culture to your business.

Unprecedented Customer Service

If you’ve been to Japan yourself, you’d have experienced it for yourself. The customer service in Japan completely blew me away. I’m not saying the customer service back home is terrible, but the difference is like night and day.

The kindness and generosity from shopkeepers across the country amazed me. Every employee, whether they worked at 7-11, a high-end clothing store or even a pachinko parlour, jumped at the chance to help. The difference is in the sheer level of enthusiasm employees have to help you.

As a customer, I went out of my way to go back and shop from some of the stores that gave us a hand. With thousands of stores vying for attention, the only ones that I remembered were ones I had a positive experience with.

Every person that comes in through your doors or on your social media is a potential customer. Obviously, asking your staff to be super enthusiastic and energetic 100% of the day is asking a bit much. Still, it’s important to make a positive impression, even if they’re asking for directions. You never know when someone might come back as a customer.

Embrace the Bizarre

On our trip across Japan, we definitely saw some really interesting stores. They ranged from “gimmicky” to “terrifying”, but they definitely got us to stop and take another look.

There were seafood restaurants that forced you to fish up your meal.


Novelty cafés where you’re treated like royalty by Japanese girls dressed up as maids.

Maid Cafe Japan

How about being thrown into a prison for dinner?

Alcatraz ER

Japan isn’t afraid to move into some truly bizarre territory when it comes to their businesses; places that would be unheard of back here. It might be because we were tourists, but we wanted to visit all these places because they were so bizarre.

I’m not suggesting you change the way your business is run, but sometimes it pays to think outside the box.

You want to be careful not to go too overboard. There’s a fine line between in being “awesomely weird” and “just plain inappropriate”. Also, don’t invest everything you have into your gimmick. The gimmick should be there to get customers in the door and building your reputation, but every other part of your business needs to be solid. No one will come to your hotel if the rooms are dirty and expensive, and no amount of gimmicks will change that.