The fun thing about hostels is making new friends. Last night four of us got together and went to an Izakya, a traditional Japanese bar. It was a lot of fun, one of the members of our group is from a town outside Tokyo and he helped explain the various menu items and how to order things. I overcame my shyness and started shouting orders, as is the custom. “Masuta! Name biiru!”, I shouted and recieved a loud “hai!” in return. This translates into: “master! Draft beer!”, “Masuta” is the English loan-word, master, pronounced the same except with an “ah” sound replacing the ‘r’.
By the end of the night we were happily talking to the other local customers (two of our rank being fluent in Japanese), and were escorted out by the owner and his wife with thanks and well wishes, which is the custom.
It seems that in japan, the customer is treated like a king, and the staff really wants to make sure that your every need is met. This stands in stark contrast to the US, where customers are rushed through their meals to make room for the next customers, and the cook and staff are completely disconnected from the customer, the only person you interact with is your server. And there is no such a thing as tipping in japan, good service is expected as part of the job, and is a matter of pride for the shop keeper.