What is Omotenashi


Omotenashi  おもてなし is a philosophy that came from Japan but is now now increasingly finding a home all over the world.

The word describes the essence of a selfless approach to customer service and hospitality.

Definitions are not easy because Japanese is a deep, layered language with multiple depths of meaning.

The Dictionary Definition of Omotenashi

Look up the word in a Japanese-English dictionary and you will get a short definition.


"1. hospitality; reception; treatment; service; entertainment​"

Good service or indifferent service? Warm hospitality or perfunctory hospitality?

To understand that it is necessary to turn to the roots of meaning in the Japanese language.

This is where it gets more interesting.

Its roots in Japanese

The word おもてなし has two elements in it.

First is "Omote" meaning the "surface" or front of something.

And the second part "Nashi" means "nothing or less"

Put together and you get "No Surface" and therefore no "back" either.

It therefore means "doing something without a hidden meaning or agenda".

Serving a guest or a customer with no ulterior motive or expectation of thanks.

There's an additional meaning!

Omit the initial "O", (put there for politeness), and you're left with the "Mote" of Omotenashi  - which can mean "being in a state of having things" either material of concept things.

The second comes from the verb "Naru" which means "To accomplish things right through to the end"

Put these together and it means doing something, in service of others, all the way through to the end.
Giving your service wholeheartedly.

You have a working definition of a philosophy of service done in a wholehearted, accomplished way with no ulterior motive or agenda other than that of being of service.

"Omotenashi is a philosophy of life that believes in the giving of service without any expectation of thanks"