Getting your change-Japanese style

Good morning everyone,

It was a gorgeous day yesterday. Today is looking the same and tomorrow as well, both days will see highs of around 19C with mostly sunny skies and then we can expect rain on Wednesday before clearing up and remaining warm through the rest of the week with highs in the low to mid 20s.

Sometimes my Japanese friends will go on (and on, and on) about how polite Japanese service is. It is, that's true, but it definitely isn't perfect. However, I will agree that I love the way they return your change in Japan.

It's true that back home, there are a lot of vacant smiles and flippant customer service at your local grocery store, but not always. You can find some genuinely friendly sales staff back home too. However this is Japan, where every transaction is concluded with a graceful bow.

This remarkable attention to customer service even extends to the handling of cash transactions in shops around the country. Akin to an art form, a simple payment to a store clerk in Japan will inevitably set off a series of steps and precise movements to satisfy the needs of both parties and respectively complete the exchange. Come with us as we take you through the steps of a simple transaction in Japan. The attention to detail and the clever reasons for it will surprise you.

Next time you make a purchase in Japan, make note of the way the cashier handles your change. If they’re good at their craft, you’ll receive your money in the following order and with a sense of gravitas befitting royalty.

1. Counting your notes

In Japan, notes are adorned with portraits on one side. The cashier will hold out the notes with these portraits facing you and the notes will be parallel to a wall as opposed to the floor. Using two hands, the amount will be counted out verbally as they flick through each note with a large snapping sound.

2. Handing over your notes

The notes will then be handed to you in a neat stack with the largest one usually on the bottom. When you put them in your wallet, your notes will now be in order from lowest to highest, making it more convenient for you when it comes to paying for your next transaction.

Cash exchange3

3. Handing over your coins and receipt

Next, the cashier will fold your receipt if it’s particularly long, and then place the coins neatly on top. By doing this, the receipt will protect the palm of your hand from coming into contact with any coins. You’ll then be able to slide the small change easily into your coin compartment and either return the receipt into the special box that’s often provided on the counter or slide it into your wallet. Then you get the (mostly) graceful bow and you’re on your way!

Not only is this a wonderful way to treat the customer and ensure there are no mistakes or disputes, it’s also a great way to keep long lines moving quickly.

It would be great if every shop staff did this here and back home. But I'm sure you've had experiences that weren't quite so perfect here in Japan. I know I have...albeit rarely.

Have a great day!


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