Japan’s service industry is so kind to the public to the point of attaining true non-discriminatory nirvana, it renders non-smoking seats futile.
In almost every restaurant or cafe you step into, following 何名様ですか (how many of you?), the very next question is almost always 喫煙席ですか (smoking seats for you?) Take a quick scan around the area and you’ll spot people smoking in the premise. Yes, Japan’s dining outlets offer both smoking and non-smoking seats but unfortunately, the biggest disappointment for non-smokers is that smoking seat or not, the seats don’t make a difference like earth and hell do, much less heaven and hell (if you do subscribe to the notion) but I’m not here to preach or prove the existence of either.
The problem – smoking seats are usually uncontained. In many places, they are merely halfway surrounded having an opening bigger than a regular door. In most places, especially cafes, the smoking seats and non-smoking seats are next to each other and more often than not, the separation happens with a divider no taller than the average human and so you get the honour to inhale the smoke even though you’re at the non-smoking area. A closer scrutiny of the name “non-smoking seat” revealed that it doesn’t say you get clean air. It simply means you can’t smoke at your seat. Semantic’s a bitch.