What is Omotenashi?

What is Omotenashi ?






what is omotenashi
What is Omotenashi

What is Omotenashi?

People with the Omotenashi Spirit

take pleasure in serving others

empathetically and skillfully,

with no expectation of thanks.


A quiet pleasure, called

おもてなし の 

Omotenashi No Kokoro

"Omotenashi from the Heart"

While Omotenashi refers to a philosophy of "selfless customer service", it has also come to mean "anything to do with delivering a great Customer eXperience".

Let's call that the "Omotenashi Spirit".

There are many elements we find in the philosophy that make it consistently excellent and the Japanese have special words for them.

In Japan can be found operating on three levels:


In the Mind

You find Omotenashi in the ideas and philosophies they have about service giving in general.

From the Heart

Omotenashi comes from the heart with the importance they attach to what we in the west call "Emotional Intelligence"

In the physical world

And you will find Omotenashi in the extreme attention they pay to the setting and the perfect execution of their service processes.

Across the entire customer experience in Japan, whether in the world of hospitality, retail, design or manufacturing, you will find these elements to one degree or another. But it is their consistency that delivers the high levels of pleasure and satisfaction associated with the service culture.

Some examples to think about

Does the careful, cleaning, presentation and maintenance of a restaurant count as customer service. Even if you never see the effort that goes in to it?

When you see an exciting service process delivery such as a chef preparing your food skillfully and dramatically. Is that a form of customer service? It's certainly magical and entertaining !

What about the careful, thoughtful effort that goes in to designing an brilliant User Interface on a website that makes it so easy for users to navigate their way around the website you forget the interface is even there? You never see the effort andcare that has gone in to it. Is that also a form "service"?

So, again. What is Omotenashi?

Japanese will tell you that each of these elements are examples of a broader definition of Omotenashi as they work on all levels to combine to leave you, the customer or guest, with a great feeling.

The definition of 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.

What is Omotenashi. The Dictionary Definition

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


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

Obviously "Good Service", not indifferent service? Warm, heartfelt hospitality. Not  just 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 also 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"




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