Every year, Lexus invites their management to a different location to get to know the new product and refocus on the company direction. This year, they called Anthony Poole, General Manager of Northwest Lexus, to the brand’s founding nation of Japan to learn the meaning of Omotenashi. Because there’s hospitality, and then there’s Japanese hospitality.

It was the elevator experience that really drove home the point for Poole. It was his first trip to Japan, and he was, as most are, very impressed by Japanese custom and manners.

“We would be waiting by the elevator at the hotel,” recalls Poole, “and any employee nearby would come over, press the button, hold the door, and bow while we got on. And this wasn’t a one-off—this happened every time.”

This is what the Japanese call Omotenashi, which translates roughly to hospitality, though Lexus has a more descriptive definition here. It’s a principle at the core of Lexus, and one that is visible at every turn in Japan.

“Whether you were getting on and off of a tour bus, or being seated for dinner, the way they demonstrated their hospitality was absolutely remarkable and something I’ve never been accustomed to here or in Europe,” says Poole.

These annual trips are meant to give Lexus dealers from around the world a first-hand breakdown of all the upcoming products and initiatives, from brand new models and concepts, to new tech and policy. But it’s also an opportunity for the manufacturer to communicate its overall direction, and remind management of Lexus’ roots. sSo, Japan was really the perfect place for this year’s trip.

“They really gave us a great Japanese experience,” says Poole. “They wanted to show us not only the way they interact with each other as friends, family, and colleagues, but also in business as well. We were treated to a multitude of different experiences wherein we saw Japanese hospitality in action.”

As keen practitioners of kaizen (the Japanese action of continual improvement), Northwest Lexus knows that there are lessons to be learned from the hyper-welcoming Japanese culture, and intend to keep improving the experience delivered to guests.

Because, as Poole learned each time he boarded the elevator during his trip to Japan, even in the smallest of gestures, there is great value.