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Hi Blog. This case you might have heard about already, but in terms that Debito.org has talked about for decades, there are no surprises here: A “Japanese Only” Japanese restaurant has been discovered turning away “foreigners” in a foreign land — India. Well, turning away all “non-Japanese”. Because, you see, “Japanese” is not a function of nationality. It’s a function of racialized tribalism.
In other words, no matter where you are in the world, under Japanese binary sensibilities, there are two types of people: Japanese and NJ — not Japanese and “foreigners”. Overseas, Japanese technically become foreigners. But not in exported Japanese contexts such as Japanese restaurants. So again, Japanese society’s exclusionary view of the world anytime, anywhere, becomes perfectly understandable when looked at through this binary rubric.
Fortunately, not all societies let this sort of racism pass without comment or sanction. And India, despite being saddled with a horrible caste system, is no exception. Within weeks after exposure, it was partially shut down after notice from the Greater Bangalore City Corporation on explicit charges of racial discrimination — something Japan simply cannot do. Articles follow. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
‘Only Japanese, no Indian people, ma’am’
Bangalore Mirror Bureau | Jun 24, 2014, 02.00 AM IST
Howard Murphy, a Brit, too was barred from the restaurant in Uno-In. ‘It is just racist,‘ Murphy told Bangalore Mirror
By : Tapasya Mitra Mazumder & Afsha Khan, Courtesy of JK
Unabashedly racist, Uno-In Hotel bars all other nationals; ironically, its head and staff are Indians
The hotel makes no bones about it. Its website categorically states: Located in Bangalore, we are a hotel exclusively for Japanese. Situated on Langford Cross Road in Shanthinagar, Hotel Uno-In, which also houses a Japanese rooftop restaurant called Teppen, has a policy of not allowing access to Indians, or for that matter, any other non-Japanese nationals.
Adjacent to the KTM showroom, Uno-In started two years ago with the sole aim of catering to Japanese nationals visiting the city for work or tour. It’s clear the hotel is not eager to advertise its presence as a hand-painted sign on the mouth of the road is the only giveaway to the place situated at the cul-de-sac.
Based on an incident (we will come back to it later) that happened a few months back, these reporters visited the hotel with a colleague and got a first-hand taste of the discriminatory attitude. The moment they stepped foot into the lobby and expressed a desire to have lunch at the hotel’s rooftop restaurant Teppen, they were told ‘Indians’ were not allowed. Below is a transcript of the recorded conversation that took place with Nic U Iqbal, MD and CEO of Nippon Infrastructure which runs the hotel.
BM Reporter: Hi. We are here for Teppen.
Hotel Staff: Yes, but only Japanese people allowed ma’am. No Indian people.
Reporter: No, we were not told that. A friend of ours recommended the place to us and said it has amazing Japanese food.
Hotel: Hi, I am Nic. This is a dedicated place for Japanese people alone.
Reporter: No, but we heard so much about this place from our Japanese friends.
Hotel: I know but we really don’t do that. It is really hard to maintain the quality system and we just have Japanese corporate people visiting us. We are the Nippon group and we have tie-ups with our own Japanese companies. Their people come to us. The entire hotel is for the Japanese alone and we don’t entertain anyone else.
After about five minutes of cajoling, we were allowed in with Iqbal stating, “I run the whole show so you can go in as my guests.” The afterthought of a welcome seemed to be directly linked to the absence of any Japanese guests (and hence no one at all) in the restaurant.
Recalling an ‘incident’ in March, Amisha Garg Agarwal, director (strategy planning), Percept/H said, “A couple of months back some colleagues accompanied our Japanese clients to the hotel for lunch. But they didn’t allow my colleagues in, stating, ‘Indians are not allowed’, despite the clients insisting they be permitted into the restaurant.”
She says when they sought an explanation, they were told Indians demanded Indian and vegetarian food. “We have heard about many more such cases from our Japanese friends in the city,” she said.
Ishiro Takazuma (name changed on request), a Japanese advertising professional who frequently travels to Bangalore for work, said that during one of his initial sojourns, he had stayed at the Uno-In and knew the food there was good. So when some Japanese colleagues were in the vicinity along with a couple of Indian colleagues a couple of months back, he recommended Uno-In’s restaurant. “We have never had any problem there before but our Indian colleagues were stopped from accompanying us into the restaurant. They relented on our insistence, though. I understand their policy of catering only to Japanese clients and their rights to reservation, but they should not have stopped our Indian friends from entering the place when they were with us.”
The ‘rights of admission reserved’ rule is in the realm of ambiguity at best. When we asked the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the issuing authority for trade licences, about how far an establishment can go in its ‘right of admission reserved’ rule, the officials had no clue. ”We have never come across it till now. We issue licences, check if the health, safety and cleanliness standards are being maintained. Nothing beyond it,” said an official.
When Bangalore Mirror contacted Uno-In’s Iqbal for comment, he said they had no qualms in admitting any customer, but they mainly catered to the needs of those residing in their corporate houses, mostly comprising the Japanese. “It is not a walk-in restaurant which is why we haven’t even publicised it as a restaurant. We do not have the infrastructure to function as a full-fledged restaurant which is why we have limited it to only Japanese delegates. And we do not entertain anyone else apart from Japanese people. However, if people come and request to have a Japanese meal, we do not mind catering to their requests.” That, based on experiences earlier by some Bangaloreans and the reporters is bunkum.
‘IT IS JUST RACIST’
To its credit, Uno-In seems to be ‘fair-handed’ in its racism. BANGALORE MIRROR sent a Brit to see if they will have a different set of rules, in typically Indian fashion, for the whites. Howard Murphy , founder of Amurco and from Manchester, was told on Monday lunch hour by the receptionist that the place is ”restricted to Japanese” and denied him entry. “Later another person — I presume he was the manager — came and said the same thing…that the place is meant only for Japanese. It’s just racist.”
An African PhD student, Charles Mwiriji Keega, was our next decoy. His experience: “We parked the bike outside.A guard opened the gate for us and I said I want to eat lunch here. He guided me to the place where the restaurant was. An executive officer came to me here and along with him four other people who seemed like heads at the restaurant came. They (all Indians) saw me and said that it’s not a restaurant first. I could see the tables there. So told them that. Then one guy came and told me that this is only for Japanese. He got a bit angry and tried to chase me out. They told me to go eat elsewhere. I said that I wanted to have Japanese food. He got annoyed with me and started to bully me out.”
SO WHAT’S ON THE MENU?
With entry banned to non-Japanese, Bangalore Mirror just had to eat at Uno In’s open-air cafe to satiate its curiosity pangs. Having virtually begged to be let in, here goes the accidental review, without any fear or favour. Not that it will help you, unless you are a Japanese reading this
So how does this exclusively-for-Japanese restaurant look inside? Teppen, an open-air cafe on the fourth floor of Uno-In, exudes the air of an office cafeteria. Since we were the only customers — and Indians at that — the staff was initially a touch wary but eased up after we returned their bow and smiled. The menu carried just the Japanese names of the dishes which is understandable considering its clientele. A waiter pointed out the chicken items, and even a vegetarian dish, he thought we may prefer over-fried pork with the skin on.
As we had heard of Daikon (radish), we decided to order that hoping it might be served with a dressing of vinegar and sesame. But the bowl of raw, shredded radish placed in front of us was unseasoned. We, thus, sincerely apologise if this isn’t Japanese etiquette, but we doused it in the soya sauce placed on our table to alter it to suit our palate. What we could make out was that most items on the menu were set meals – essentially a protein served on a platter with rice, miso soup, pickled cucumber and raw vegetables.
It suffices here to say that we left with the knowledge that we had got a taste of authentic Japanese food. For what it’s worth, the fried jumbo shrimps enveloped in thick hot and crispy batter and the miso soup with tofu cubes went down well, but if anybody wants to have sushi, they will need to come here for dinner as they aren’t available at lunch.
Bangalore shuts down ‘Japanese only’ hotel
The Mail Online India, By ARAVIND GOWDA
PUBLISHED: 18:40 EST, 2 July 2014
All over: Uno-in hotel in Bangalore, a Japanese-only restaurant, has been closed down
A ‘Japanese only’ hotel, which allegedly did not entertain Indians and other foreign nationals in its restaurant, has been closed down by the Greater Bangalore City Corporation (GBCC) on charges of racial discrimination.
The Uno-Inn Hotel – set up two years ago in central Bangalore by a local entrepreneur in association with the Nippon Infrastructure Company to cater to the growing number of Japanese visitors – shot to limelight after it allegedly stopped Indians, British and Africans from entering the roof-top restaurant.
The 30-room hotel and the restaurant were meant exclusively for Japanese tourists and businessmen visiting the city.
Last week, a few Bangaloreans, who decided to try out the Japanese restaurant at the hotel, were shocked when they were reportedly informed that they were unwelcome there.
This shocked the locals, who duly brought the matter to the notice of the GBCC.
Recently, GBCC officials visited the hotel and detected various violations by the management.
Consequently, the GBCC locked 10 out of the 30 rooms of the hotel and issued a notice to the hotel to comply with the local laws.
But the hotel management contended that Indians and other foreign nationals were welcome at their restaurant.
The GBCC is not authorised to initiate any action against the hotel management for its alleged racial discrimination, and only the law enforcement agencies were entitled to initiate action against the hotel.