The Japanese Full-Service-Gas-Station Experience

My first memory of using a Japanese full-service gas station really dates me–over thirty years ago! I remember pulling in and being overwhelmed by four pit-crew-like attendants who converged on the car, opened my front doors, grabbed my matts from under my feet, removed and cleaned all the ashtrays while they furiously wiped down my dashboard and interior trim. For a moment there I thought I was being carjacked!

Meanwhile someone was washing my windows, wiping down my exterior, checking my oil, filling my tires and pumping my gas. Three minutes later my car was cleaner than it had ever been inside and out. When I pulled out of the station to enter the street, two attendants ran in front of my car, blocked traffic both ways so I could get out, then bowed and thanked me as I drove away.

That was the old days. Looks like full service stations in Japan are going the way of the betamax format. But they still have a few full-service relics left. The bad news is the service has dropped somewhat–you’ll notice in the video below that we were handed a towel to clean the windows and interior ourselves. And yet, it’s still way ahead of what you get in the U.S.  For what you pay in Japan it better be!

Check it out for yourself:

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