Japan Kyoto day 5: excellent service vs self-service

Ryokan’s excellent service

We stayed at a ryokan for one night, which is a Japanese style hotel with hotsprings and a fancy dinner and breakfast. It’s called Kaiseki, Japanese haute cuisine. A lot of small bites, but when combined it is a big meal. Today at breakfast we also had a lot of small bites. Some interesting textures and ingredients: jelly, crunchy transparent seeweed and squishy tofu.

The service at this ryokan is excellent. From the first email to the last goodbye. We were picked up from the JR station and were given a tea and snack while someone came to check us in. At dinner you get your own waiter who will serve you the whole evening. Our bottle of plum wine was even brought to our room with ice, after we couldn’t finish it at dinner. This costs extra service money ofcourse.

At the end of our stay, we had to get money from an ATM. The staff even drove us to a nearby 7eleven for the ATM. Excelent service.


Japan is very good in providing thoughtful service, but is also very good in automation and self-service. So if you don’t like to interact with people, Japan is the place for you!

Some examples of self service:

Vending machines for ordering food. You pick your ticket at the machine, give this to the waiter and your food comes. We experienced this at a halal chicken broth ramen shop called Ayam-Ya. (Scores 4+ stars on Google maps.) Delicious creamy broth with soft chicken. The noodles here were so smooth and chewy.

Self-service hotel

Our new hotel in Kyoto doesn’t have any person at the service desk. You just receive an email with an entrance code and you check yourself in on a tablet. Then you will receive a pincode for your hotel room. No person involved. Even room cleaning is only done once in 3 nights. If you want clean towels, you place them in a box which can be opened from the outside your room. So they don’t need to come in.

Conveyor belt sushi

Our dinner tonight was also self-service. We ate at Kura Sushi, which has a sushi belt with tablet ordering system. You get a ticket for a table or at the counter, wait till you get called and you get a seat number. At the table you have a hot water tap, green tea powder and all the tools. And you can start ordering.

The fun part of Kura Sushi is that you can put your empty plates in a slot machine. With 5 plates you can play a game. A video will play and you can win or lose. If you win, you get a ball with a toy. We already won after 10 plates. In the end we ate 22 plates + extra things which costs 3000 yen, which is about 25 euro. For two persons this is quite a good deal. This simple franchise sushi already beats all the sushi in the Netherlands. Fresher, tastier, better rice, less salty soy sauce. I am betting we will eat there again one of these days..

Oh right, today we also went to the Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine and saw a lot of orange shrine gates. Very cool to see.

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