The cashiers I interviewed all agreed that the trays are convenient because there’s less risk that someone will drop a coin and set off a scramble to retrieve it. The trays also make it possible to spread out the bills and coins so customers can see at a glance that they’ve been given the correct change. And as one shopkeeper explained it, offering change in a tray feels more polite than simply placing money in a customer’s hand. “Japanese prefer not to touch other people’s hands and the tray creates desirable distance,” he commented. “So you could say that using a tray is an expression of reserve as well as an extension of good customer service.”

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