Japanese hospitality: Oshibori

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Japan? For me, it’s definitely the Japanese hospitality! Oshibori! Imagine if you are really cold right now, what would be the thing you yearn for the most? Warmth! That’s right! Especially when you are cold and hungry, you will naturally head to a restaurant. Now imagine, you have just entered a restaurant and sat down. Your hands are cold and you need some time to adjust to the surrounding temperature. What would be something you want the most now? A time machine to make you settle down more quickly? No-no. Something more realistic, more practical, what would it be?

おしぼりOshibori! That’s it! That’s the thing you may be looking for!

Wait, what? Oshibori?

Oshibori is a neatly rolled wet towel that can be warm or cool depending on the weather. On a cold day, the towel would be warm while on a hot day, the towel would be cool. It is served for you to wipe your hands before your meal. Apart from hygiene purposes, it can also help you to settle down quickly, making your dining experience a more comfortable and enjoyable one!

Japan, being a country where customers are highly respected, a good customer service is expected from the industries, not excluding the food industry. Whenever a customer entered and sat down in a restaurant, Oshibori is quickly served to the customer, as an act of welcoming him. Japanese people are usually introverted and not good at expressing themselves. They are not confident in showing their heartfelt thoughts through facial expressions. Hence, Oshibori service would be ideal to show their appreciation towards their customers.

Immediately after you have sat down, a warm Oshibori is served to you. You unrolled the Oshibori and held it with both of your hands. The warmth of the Oshibori can be felt on your icy cold hands. How would you feel at this point in time? Wouldn’t you feel like patronizing this restaurant to enjoy such warming hospitality again?

And… How should I use Oshibori?

Please use it to clean your hands only! During summer, you can be perspiring and hope to cool yourself down with a cool towel. You may have the urge to freshen up by using the Oshibori to wipe your face and neck. Wait, STOP! Before you do so, think about how the Oshibori is washed and reused by the next customer. Would you still want to use the Oshibori knowing that the previous customer used it to wipe his face and neck? Of course not right! Hence, Oshibori is strictly used for hands only!

Oh and do not forget to thank the person who served you the Oshibori!

Just a simple ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu) will do!

Coto Japanese Academy is a unique Japanese Language School in Iidabashi Tokyo, we offer relaxed and fun conversational lessons for all levels of Japanese learner. Coto Japanese Academy prides itself on its community atmosphere and fun lessons that focus on creation of opportunities to speak and learn Japanese. If you are interested in studying Japanese in Tokyo – please visit our contact page here.


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