Omotenashi is a word Japanese people use to describe their unique way of receiving guests, where “Omote” means public image and “Nashi” means nothing, together they strive for services that come from the bottom of the heart–honest, no hiding, and no pretending. Tatcha’s founder Vicky Tsai shares a story of her own encounter with Omotenashi, and how Omotenashi becomes the philosophy behind the brand.
As the famous saying goes “It’s not just where you travel, it’s who you travel with that makes the experience special.” In July 2009, Vicky was pregnant and was visiting Kyoto to explore the city. Her hotel assigned her a driver for the day, named Toide-san. But halfway through the sightseeing, morning sickness got the better of her.
Disappointed, she had to return to her hotel to rest, but when she woke up, there was a package waiting for her. Inside were three CDs, each with a photo of Vicky at a different temple printed and glued on top, along with a little note that read: “Since you couldn’t see Kyoto, I brought Kyoto to you.” While she was staying in the hotel, Toide-san spent the afternoon driving an hour and a half home, burning thousands of his own photos onto these CDs, and driving back to the hotel to share his love of Kyoto with Vicky, all to make her feel cared for. “Toide-san is the embodiment of omotenashi,” but Vicky likes to think of it as making somebody else’s happiness your own happiness.
The lesson Vicky learned from Toide-san is that we don’t need complex reasons to live intentionally, thoughtfully, or generously; there is nothing simpler than being good to one another. So, as you go forth throughout your day, take a lesson from Toide-san: look out for those who need a friend.