Is Tipping RUDE in Japan?

Tipping in Japan

Clients often ask me “do people tip in Japan?” and my answer is that 90% of the time, “no, people don’t tip in Japan.” Today, I want to talk about the other 10% and the popular misconception that it’s rude to tip in Japan.

  1. When do you tip in Japan?
    1. Who do you tip in Japan?
  2. How much do you tip in Japan?
  3. Is it rude to tip in Japan?
    1. How do you give a tip in Japan?
  4. Summary

When do you tip in Japan?

Basically, you do not tip in Japan at bars, restaurants, and hotels. You also you don’t tip hair stylists, taxi drivers, or delivery people. And unlike the US, Japanese workers have full-time or hourly salaries that are (theoretically) commensurate with their expected duties. That said, tipping does occur, particular in the tourism industry.

Who do you tip in Japan?

  • Buddhist and Shinto priests
    These are highly trained specialists – your tip is actually a donation to the maintenance of the temple or shrine. You only need to do this if they guide your meditation, give you a tour of the religious precinct, or speak English (or your native language).
  • Hired Drivers
    These are government-approved specialists whose entire careers can end with a single accident. They aren’t just some dude with a driver’s license. Try riding a bus or private car through crazy, windy mountain roads with them, you’ll see how good they are.
  • Tour Guides
    Ideally, these are highly trained specialists whose expertise requires years of first-hand experience. You’re essentially helping them pay off a kind of never-ending cultural student debt.

There are other situations when the Japanese tip certain people. Most of these do not pertain to tourists. For example, if you are a tea ceremony acolyte or patron of a geisha, at the end of the year, you might send your teacher/artist a tip or an expensive gift such as high-end fruit or flowers. As a tourist, you don’t have to worry about this.

How much do you tip?

  • Buddhist and Shinto priests
    ¥500 ($5 USD) and up per person. Since it’s a donation to the institution, it’s up to you. Usually, you can just throw coins in the collection box in front of the main hall of the temple or shrine. Of course, you can always tip more.
  • Hired Drivers
    ¥500 ($5 USD) and up for half a day. ¥1000 ($10 USD) for a full day. This amount is usually per group, but all passengers can tip individually if they like, and I encourage you to do so. Also, you can always tip more than the norm.
  • Tour Guides
    ¥1000-¥2000 ($10-$20 USD) per person, depending on their knowledge and service. On group tours, ¥1000 ($10) and up per day per person is the norm, depending on the quality of knowledge and service. Again, you can be as generous as you like.

Is it rude to tip in Japan?

No, it’s not rude to tip in Japan, it just isn’t the norm. People don’t know how to react to it. This is why you will often see online that “Japanese people are offended by tips” – or, that you are “rude” or “insulting them.” This just isn’t true. If you want to tip your hotel staff or something, you should present the tip in a way they culturally recognize as a gift or a token of your appreciation. Sometimes a unique item or foodstuff from your country (nothing chintzy, though!) is great, except in the three cases I talked about above.

How do you give a tip in Japan?

It’s easy! To give a tip in Japan, buy a simple envelope – they actually sell “tip envelopes” in most convenience stores, but you can just use a regular envelope. You can even ask the staff for a チップ封筒 chippu fūtō (tip envelope). The actual word in Japanese is more complicated, but they will understand this phrase. But if you bring a cool looking one from your country, they’ll love it!

Put your cash tip inside the envelope – you might include a nice message if you like – and hand it to the person discreetly. If you want to be really smooth about it, you can say お世話になりました o-sewa ni narimashita which means “thank you for everything.” If you think that Japanese phrase is a mouthful, then a simple bow and English “thank you” will suffice. The key is to not draw attention to the situation, since giving and receiving money is considered a little embarrassing in Japan. Just pass the envelope, say thank you, and give a low key bow.


Although tipping is not common in Japan, it actually is the norm in the tourist industry (drivers and guides in particular). If you travel with JapanThis.Tours, we always cover tips for temples, shrines, and private cars on behalf of our customers but we never discourage you from tipping more. Generosity is appreciated everywhere in the world. We also encourage you to tip our staff guides and contracted guides for the same reason.

I hope that clears up any confusion about tipping in Japan. It’s really straight forward, if you think about. Definitely more intuitive than the US tipping culture I grew up with, which is, let’s face it, very complicated. So don’t overthink or worry about this on your trip to Japan or your tour with us.

Do you have any questions about how tipping works in Japan? Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. We’re here to help and look forward to hearing from you.

See you soon!