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Hi Blog. Thanks to everyone who submitted these articles. Here’s yet another place in Japan that refuses NJ customers entry, and once again giving a reason against the group based upon the alleged actions of a select few (Japanese never renege on their reservations, after all, right?). And of course bring in the boilerplate language barrier (which was not an issue in these refusals in the first place). Anyway, what makes the Sushi Mizutani case particularly noticeable is that Michelin has recommended this place, and so far Michelin have not commented on whether these kinds of exclusionary policies are grounds for removing that recommendation. But given the relativism and exceptionality that pervades the world’s treatment of Japan (giving it a free pass for some pretty egregious examples of racism), I would be rather surprised if Michelin took their stars away. They have been advised of this situation, so let’s wait and see. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
Michelin restaurant in Ginza refuses reservations by foreigners
The Tokyo Reporter, By Kenji Nakano on April 26, 2015, courtesy of lots of people
Chinese journalist Mo Bangfu finds the policy of Sushi Mizutani to be ‘discriminatory’
On April 8, the secretary for Chinese journalist Mo Bangfu telephoned Sushi Mizutani, a 10-seat restaurant located in Tokyo’s ritzy Ginza district, to make a reservation for four people.
The reservation was on behalf of Bangfu, who was hosting three guests from the Communist nation. The secretary, a Japanese female, was told that seats were available on the requested day.
However, once the course of conversation revealed that the party would in fact consist of foreigners she was informed that the restaurant has a policy of refusing reservations from non-Japanese.
Mo, a 30-year resident of Japan, then telephoned the restaurant himself and received the same information. “It was disappointing,” Mo told evening tabloid Nikkan Gendai (April 26).
With Sushi Mizutani having received a two-star ranking in the Michelin Guide Tokyo 2015, the paper finds the policy disturbing as Japan is continuing a push to attract more visitors from overseas.
In a phone conversation with the head of the restaurant, whose typical meals runs around 20,000 yen, Nikkan Gendai learns that issue involves problems that occurred in the past.
“In order to preserve the atmosphere of the restaurant, we try to maintain that the total number of guests are split between Japanese and foreigners,” says the representative. “Since we’ve had foreigners make reservations and not show up and other problems, we only take reservations through a hotel concierge or (through a service provided by) a credit card company.”
Mo’s status as a permanent resident is irrelevant, according to Sushi Mizutani.
“Whether one is a tourist or not cannot be determined over the phone,” the representative says. “So this is an across-the-board policy.”
The appeal of Japanese cuisine has been one factor in the recent rise in travelers from overseas coming to Japan. Earlier this month, the Japan National Tourism Organization said that the 1,526,000 tourist arrivals for March set a record.
That record will likely fall again soon. For the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the government expects 25 million foreigners to arrive in Japan. By comparison, last year the figure stood at 13 million.
Perhaps ironically, Mo works as a tourism adviser for Yamanashi and Kagawa prefectures. He finds the behavior of Sushi Mizutani baffling, though he does have some sympathies regarding problems that may have taken place in the past.
“However, I, a permanent resident, find the conscious separation of foreigners and Japanese to be discriminatory,” he says.
The matter is not just a problem just for Sushi Mizutani, the journalist continues.
“For the betterment of the entire image of Japan for visitors, conscious change may be necessary,” he says. (K.N.)
Source: “Sabetsu? Yoyaku kyohi sa reta gaikoku hito ga ikidoru mishuran sushi-ten no taio,” Nikkan Gendai (April 26)
Michelin-star sushi restaurant in Tokyo defends foreigner rules
Japan Today NATIONAL APR. 28, 2015 – 03:50PM JST ( 133 ), Courtesy of lots of people
TOKYO —A top notch Michelin-starred sushi restaurant in Tokyo on Monday defended its special reservation rules for foreigners after a report in Japan it had refused to accept a booking from a Chinese customer.
Sushi Mizutani, which has two of the coveted Michelin stars, told AFP it has an “across-the-board policy” of not accepting bookings by non-Japanese customers—unless they are made through a hotel concierge or a credit card company.
“Non-Japanese customers may not show up for their reservations,” a member of the staff at the restaurant said, adding employees do not have the foreign language proficiency to explain requirements to patrons.
“We prepare fish for the number of expected customers and have to turn down other requests for booking sometimes. We simply cannot afford it if people don’t show up.
“We don’t think it is anything discriminatory,” he said.
The confirmation came after a report that the restaurant, located in Tokyo’s glitzy Ginza district, had refused to take a reservation for Chinese journalist Mo Bangfu.
Mo, a resident of Japan for 30 years who is fluent in Japanese, intended to host three guests at the high-end restaurant, where prices start at 20,000 yen per person, the Nikkan Gendai tabloid reported.
The magazine said that as soon as his secretary—a Japanese woman—told the restaurant Mo’s name and contact number, the person taking the booking suddenly changed his attitude and said “some arrangements were necessary”—indicating the reservation was not acceptable.
“We have an increasing number of cases in which people are abandoning their reservations,” a restaurant worker told AFP, adding Japanese-speaking customers are called for reconfirmation a few days before their reservation.
The number of foreign tourists coming to Japan has rocketed in recent years as the value of the yen has fallen and as tensions have eased between Beijing and Tokyo.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he wants to attract 20 million foreign visitors a year by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympics.
Despite decades of exposure to non-Japanese tourists, many facilities, even in cosmopolitan Tokyo, have difficulties dealing with people who they assume cannot speak the language.
Tokyo has a huge selection of top-class eateries, and regularly tops the global list for Michelin-starred restaurants.
No one from the Michelin Guide was available for comment.
And as for the ability for NJ clients to get around this exclusion by using a concierge service:
Wes Thorpe: I called trying to make a reservation tonight, and was told that because I was a foreigner I would need to make a reservation through my hotel or my credit card’s concierge service. I explained (in Japanese) that I’ve lived in Japan for 23 years and am a permanent resident, and that as I don’t have a platinum card I’m unable to use Visa’s concierge service. They told me I’m out of luck. Truly despicable.
8-7-7 Ginza Chuo, Tokyo 104-0061
Today 11:30 am – 1:30 pm, 5:00 – 9:30 pm
日刊 ゲンダイ 2015年4月26日