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Tipping at ryokan (Japanese-style inn)
Tipping is rarely seen in Japan; however, in Japanese-style inns(=ryokans) you can put a money bill(Y1000) in a small envelope and hand it to the person who you think deserve it. Here the idea of taking out a money bill from your pocket and handing it directly is considered rude. But when you stay in a hotel, things are quite different. They are trained to politely reciprocate your offer with an outright "No thank you,." which will be accompanied with a slight bow.
Tipping on a tour
It is mostly right to say, “Tipping is not a common practice in Japan." Japanese, seldom tip hair stylists and waiters.
But actually, NOT very true in international tourism.
Most professionals involved in inbound tourism in Japan would not mind accepting tips, or even deeply appreciate your kindness.
Here is an example; If you join a tour or hire a professional tour guide, it is very common for tourists to give tips to their tour guides for their hard work. You do not need to find an envelope to do this, just give cash as you do back home and show your gratitude.
It would also be a good idea to tip to your bus drivers and taxi drivers, as long as it is not banned by their companies.
(The only problems you may have to expect would be that they may not understand what you mean it for if they do not understand your language. So, it will make things less confusing if you put it in an envelope or wrap in paper, and say “ Kore-ha chippu desu.” ("Here is your tip. " The word “tip” is pronounced “chippu” in Japanese.)
It may be unbelievable, but to tell the truth, tipping is a widely practiced social custom in Japan. Since old days, Japanese people have given tips on special occasions: e.g. to their bus drivers before or after their privately-chartered tour.
Nowadays, wages/ fees for drivers and pro tour guides are not as high as you may consider, so it will also help them keep up their good work.
But please do not misunderstand, tipping in Japan is not mandatory at all, even in the tourism business.