Japan will raise the consumption tax rate from the current 5 % to 8 % from April 2014. Consumption tax in Japan is a flat rate for all. So it means that when you buy Mercedes, you pay 8 %. You buy a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, you pay 8 %. You dine at a fine restaurant, you pay 8 %. McDonald – 8 %. A bag of onions and tomatoes – 8 %. I personally find it very unreasonable. But in order to stabilize people’s consumption and continue to lift up our economy, I guess that is one of measures.
Photo from Jack Daniel’s website
So for those traveling Tokyo before April 2014, you are fortunate! Less tax to pay and Japanese Yen is currently weaker against all major currencies than it used to be. As for myself, I will be going to COSTCO to stock up my storage before April!
Many wonders if they have to pay tip in Tokyo. No tip. Japan does not practice such custom. When a bell boy brings your luggage to your room, just say “A-ri-ga-to (thank you)”. Taxi driver will give you back full change til penny (I usually tell them to keep the change when cab fare was 890 JPY and I had 1000 JPY bill – that is not considered to be rude).
Photo from Shangri-la Tokyo website
Nice restaurants may automatically charge you with 10 – 15 % service charge. And when you go to Japanese restaurants, they serve you with a small dish of appetizer when you sit at a table. They are called “o-to-o-shi”. They are not free! Take a look at bill, you are charged with o-to-o-shi and it is usually about 500 JPY. People do not refuse o-to-o-shi EVEN IF they are allergic to what was served. So please accept o-to-o-shi as one of Japanese dining culture.
Typical Japanese restaurants usually have O-to-o-shi service
Tokyo has two sale seasons. Winter – January and Summer – July / August. If your purpose of Tokyo travel is shopping, you may want to schedule your dates accordingly.
And when you travel to Asian countries, you negotiate price. Actually you MUST negotiate price or they give you very unfair price. But price negotiation is uncommon in Tokyo. The price that you see on tag is the price you pay and we all pay.
Photo from Jimmy Choo Official site
If you have any questions on Tokyo custom, please feel free to leave a comment. I will make sure that you get your answer.