[This post was originally published on 4/25/16 and updated on 2/10/19]
I always knew that I could improve on hospitality, but to be honest, I didn't think I was doing all that bad.... Until I went to Japan. Haha! It was not a surprise to me that hospitality is a huge part of Japanese culture, but experiencing it first hand was truly touching and life changing.
Granted, some who we spent time with were friends of my husband's that he had met many years ago when they were exchange students. Of all the people we saw, I only had met one girl prior to our trip to Japan. I only spent a few hours with her when she was visiting the States about a year before we went to Japan. Still, when she knew that we were coming to Japan she was intent that we come to visit her family and stay with them. She arranged so many details and footed a number of expenses. We were baffled. It was beyond kindness and generosity. I truly felt like I was with family.
They arranged places to stay for us, so we didn't have to stay in a hotel in Fukuoka or Tokyo. They arranged for us to meet their friends who all presented us with little gifts. The gifts ranged from a balloon animal, to Japanese towels, candy, snacks, meals, and a short musical performance. It was so special!
This picture captured something I learned in Japan. You never fill your own cup. When you fill someone else's cup, the natural response is for them to reciprocate that action. You don't do it just so they will reciprocate, but it shows your interest in others. When you show personal interest and concern for other people, you will feel satisfied and content and you will make an impact on them. Your cup will be full literally and metaphorically.
It would be kind to help a foreigner arrange their trip to your country. It would be generous to treat them to meals/accommodation and spend your time, a valuable asset we all have an equally limited amount of, taking them to all the places you've already been. But true hospitality is more than that. True hospitality doesn't have to cost a lot, but what it does is cause strangers, acquaintances, and even friends, to leave changed, to leave... as family.
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