The day I was assaulted by a Japanese guest.

Adrian Padina
4 min readJul 8, 2019

The marvelous cultural differences encountered in hotels.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Working in the hotel business means you come across many different cultures and you quickly learn how to handle each one. Whilst it’s not always wise to generalize, there is no doubting that each nationality has its particular quirks, and ways of doing things, in business and in personal life.

Without wishing to offend anyone, there are traits well known to all. For example, the Swiss are known for their punctuality; the British have a reputation for enjoying their drink, sometime to excess; Brazilian timekeeping is non-existent; and the Arabs have no idea what they are doing one day to the next. As the French say, vive la différence.

And then there are the Japanese, very dissimilar to western culture as the following story exemplifies. This occurred to me back in the early ’90s in London:

The lovely Japanese tour guide came to me at reception, very polite and very apologetic as she had to convey the complaint of a VIP in her group.

“Eto…Mr Hatekayama very upset. Shirt not ironed well”.

“My apologies”, I replied, “please ask Mr Hatekayama if I can collect the shirt, have it pressed again and return it as soon as possible”.

“Eto… [which apparently translates as ‘uhm’], Mr Hatekayama already check out. Very upset”.

I suggested that the guest give me his shirt if he had time, that I would personally get it pressed in 5 minutes and I would reimburse him for the failed service. After shuffling over to Mr Hatekayama and explaining the proposed solution, the tour guide was patently given some verbal abuse judging by his heated words and her looking down on the floor.

“Yes please, here is shirt”

A quick sprint to the valet and the shirt was pressed and ready in its cellophane sleeve in 6 minutes.

Now, as the guest had already paid by credit card and we were in 1992, many of you will recall the old credit card slips that were put through a machine where the embossed numbers were printed on the slip itself. To make the refund, the procedure was that Mr Hatekayama had to sign the new slip with the new amount and I would then proceed to tear up the…

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Adrian Padina

Master hotelier who writes and photographs. Take a peek inside my world.