Omotenashi, or hospitality, is the buzzword of the moment. It all started with Tokyo’s presentation to bag the Olympics in 2020 and now it’s everywhere.
The latest example is this Bijin Uketsuke, an iPad app that gives you your own personal virtual receptionist.
Ideal for cash-strapped businesses looking to maintain highly problematic gendered practices, but without the funds to hire a bilingual young thing to man the desk, the Bijin Uketsuke (“beautiful receptionist”) is a virtual answer to omotenashi. You simply place a tablet at your front door and then visitors will be greeted by a smiling female receptionist, and they can use the screen to ring the person they are there to see … all while being guided by the charming uniformed woman.
You get a choice of seven ladies in blue. There are no male options.
Sexist, much? Indeed. (As we all know, sexism is alive and well even in the heart of contemporary Tokyo.) Otherwise a nifty idea? Perhaps.
Bijin Uketsuke is available in English and Japanese from iTunes for just ¥700 ($7).
Of course, you could always just get the Free App of a Girl Staring Awkwardly at You, and creep your customers out.
Our guide to prepay SIM cards, wifi routers, cafe wifi and other places to quickly find wifi whilst visiting Japan.