Omotenashi is the Japanese word, which has several meanings; "hospitality", "treatment", "service", "welcomeness", "reception" and "entertainment" according to the English Japanese dictionary. With all of these meanings in just one word, Omotenashi plays an important role in Japan.
Japanese people are proud of Omotenashi mindset. Thanks to Omotenashi mindset, we're very careful about politeness, cleanliness and safeness in order for everybody to be treated equially. Indeed, we're happy about how high the average quality of service level is in Japan. However, there are some strange hospitality in Japan which cannot be understood globally.
In Japan, customers must be treated as God. What does it mean? It means that any business cannot exist without customers, so customers should be always treated politely. However, it often lacks friendliness. After you're welcomed by smiling staff with sincere bow (and "Irasshaimase!" in a high pitched voice), you can't expect further casual conversation or "small talk" you'll have in other countries. Why? It's because, they are afraid to say anything wrong to God.
This funny story happend at one night when some of my British friends came to Japan; I was accompanying them while they were traveling countryside. We had a booking in a high-class modern traditional hotel, which was close to the Japanese castle. The hotel staffs were super nice, but they explained so many detailed things which were completely nonsense from A to Z! How to screw a door knob, how to use a door stopper, this is a toilet room which is separated from the bathroom, toilet seat is always warm so please don't hesitate to sit on it, how to open a balcony door, please use this slippers for outside, this is a electric kettle and you're free to use it, but you'll be charged if you take some snacks or drinks from minibar, and etc... during almost 10 minutes! It was too strange, and we were tired just because of this.
Even though Omotenashi mindset offers high quality service, most of the services in Japan are not flexible to accept individual customer's request, especially in restaurants! They stubbornly refuse simple requests (i.e., to remove shrimps from the meal, to add extra sauce, to split the bill, and etc.), because it is not on their manual. So once they say "No, sorry we can't do that." or "No, sorry it's impossible." don't try to insist so much because you'll just waste your time and feel more flustrated.
What do you think? If you have any comments please let me know;)