How credible are those so-called kuchikomi sites, on which customers are invited to rate everything from restaurants and hotels to doctors and online purchases? Do most people who submit them post in good faith? Rather than seek out the best-rated businesses, Shukan Post (July 10-17) purposely patronized establishments that had received especially poor ratings to see if the negative reports were warranted.

The weekly magazine’s reporter first reserved a room at a hotel in the city of Kure in Hiroshima Prefecture.

"The woman who took my reservation was exceptionally polite,” the reporter recalls, “but I felt somewhat anxious when she warned, ‘Our boiler is undergoing repairs and so we don't have hot water. Would you be willing to go to the local public bath?’"