“Japanese Only” rules mutate: Hagoromo-yu, a bathhouse excluding LGBT in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, in reaction to local same-sex-partner ordinance


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Hi Blog. As Debito.org has argued for decades, if you don’t make discrimination explicitly illegal, it spreads and mutates.

Now we have a bathhouse (the most famous type of “Japanese Only” businesses in Japan) named Hagoromo-yu, in cosmopolitan Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, which has a sign up explicitly refusing custom to all LGBT customers “who don’t follow rules and morals, or don’t practice moderation” (setsudo o mamoru).

But here’s the nasty kicker (and brazen nastiness seems to be the hallmark of Japan’s excluders these days; just consider the antics of Osaka car dealer Autoplaza in the recent Yener Case).  The sign even includes this iyami on the bottom, striking back against the unusual progressiveness of the local government:

Shibuya-ku has established the ‘same-sex partners ordinance’, but we at this store will refuse service to any LGBT customers who who don’t follow rules and morals, or don’t practice moderation.”

How nice. Here’s where this place is located, for the record:

料金:入浴料 460円/サウナ使用 ・ 入浴料 1,000円
営業時間:14:00 ~ 深夜 1:00 (日曜日は14:00 ~ 深夜 24:00)

Hagoromo-yu, 〒151-0071 Tokyo, Shibuya, Honmachi, 3−24−20 Tel. 03-3372-4118, no dedicated website.

Courtesy of TL on Sept. 4, 2017.  Although this isn’t explicitly a Debito.org issue (on the treatment of International Residents and Visible Minorities in Japan), this is still an issue of minority treatment, and as such warrants a mention.  Feel free to give them a piece of your mind, as “moderately” as you like.  Dr. Debito Arudou


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9 comments on ““Japanese Only” rules mutate: Hagoromo-yu, a bathhouse excluding LGBT in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, in reaction to local same-sex-partner ordinance

  • I don’t get it, are they going to interview potential customers when they enter as to their sexuality? If not, how will they know?
    Are they worried about same sex couples fooling around in the bath? If so, why not just post a sign asking everyone to refrain.
    I suspect that the owner has a personal grudge against homosexuals, and is merely using his business as a venue to voice his dissatisfaction with Shibuya-ku officials.
    Rather than making his business appear more respectable, his sign merely makes it seem sleazy.

  • Wow, absolutely disgusting. Isn’t Shibuya ku the one that did extra processes to recognize LGBT couples. This seems to be a real affront to not just foreigner but anyone in general in Japan. Definitely a lawsuit here I hope. Should get news…

  • His stereotypes may be flawed and his spite vindictive in how he choses to express “no getting up to stuff” rules, but his logic makes perfect sense: if these are sex segregated baths then only LGBT people could possibly ever risk getting up to anything in the first place. He’s not actually saying they’re not allowed, but that they won’t be if they if they do get up to something.

    — Except that the logic also brings in Shibuya-ku Ward government’s liberal attitudes towards same-sex partnerships in a legal sense. As if allowing LGBT more rights as married couples means they’ll feel empowered enough to start copulating in public places like his sauna. That’s unrelated. And bigoted.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    >>”Rule-breaking, moral-lacking, sense-lacking.”

    Wow. This JO bathhouse loves to walk on the landmines of ignorance and bigotry.

  • This phenomenon has been already (very well) explained in Debito.org: when discrimination or precarious employment conditions against the most disenfranchised minority are left unchallenged, others feel emboldened to follow suit against the same or other minorities.


    • I’ve looked it up a little, and it doesn’t seem a black and white issue in the sense that the bath house was apparently somewhat popular with gay/bi men for meeting others. So the owner would not have done it just out of spite for the Shibuya-ku ordinance.

      Regardless, it’s got the hallmarks of discrimination since it unnecessarily mentions the ordinance as if to set the record straight (“…but we don’t believe in equality here”), and criminalizes gay men, as opposed to telling off people who don’t follow the rules/morals… and happen to be gay.

      A photo of a more detailed “forbidden rules”:

      A review that mentions in passing the popularity with gay patrons:

      • Gulf, your 1st post on this thread was perfect. Well said:

        But Gulf, your 2nd post on this thread needs improving:

        This paragraph you wrote seems mistaken to me:
        “I’ve looked it up a little, and it doesn’t seem a black and white issue in the sense that the bath house was apparently somewhat popular with gay/bi men for meeting others. So the owner would not have done it just out of spite for the Shibuya-ku ordinance.”

        Here’s why I feel that paragraph is mistaken:

        Because it is an example of a stance which sign-defenders often take, “If the owner of the establishment doesn’t have discrimination in his heart, then somehow the discriminatory sign is not discriminatory.”

        The reality is: it doesn’t matter if the “Japanese People Only” establishment owner claims to love, or even truly loves, Non-Japanese people.

        The reality is: it doesn’t matter if the “Japanese People Only” establishment owner claims to allow, or even truly allows, a few exceptions in sometimes.

        For example, sometimes idiots write, “I’m bilingual (and American/British, and white, and weak looking) so the owner thus let me in, so that somehow proves that the race-based-entry-denial sign isn’t really race-based-entry-denial.” Yeah, thank you for that wonderful report, but what about the “scary looking / strong looking” black or arab person who the owner denied entry to by pointing to the sign, which you didn’t see. The sign is what causes the emotional suffering of the non-Japanese family who simply looked at the sign and walked away crying without putting up the bold fight of trying to enter anyway. Just because a few non-Japanese manage to convince the owner to make an exception, doesn’t change the fact that the sign says “Japanese People Only”
        = “Japanese Race Only”
        “Non-Japanese-People Not Allowed”
        = “Non-Japanese-Races Not Allowed”

        Exceptions prove nothing.
        The sign is the problem.

        The owner’s “love for all people” doesn’t matter.
        The sign is the problem.

        So here too, the fact that the owner has up until now made lots of profit from gays visiting his bathhouse doesn’t matter.
        The sign is the problem.

        Maybe the owner has decided he wants to reduce the number of gay customers with this rude sign, even though it means he will receive less profit.

        Maybe the owner loves all gay people, and simply wants to reduce cases of sex in shower area.

        Maybe the owner is even gay himself. All of these speculative “maybes” don’t matter at all.
        The sign is the problem.

        The sign IS an undeniable black-and-white case of Entry-Denial against a particular group.

        Meaning, the sign is Sexual-Persuasion-Based-Entry-Denial against a particular group, since it denies entry specifically only to LGTB people.

        The sign does NOT deny entry in general to “ALL people who don’t obey rules, morals, or moderation.”

        The sign denies entry specifically to “ONLY LesbianGayBisexualTrans people who don’t obey rules, morals, or moderation.”

        And the sign IS an undeniable black-and-white case of Hate-Speech against a particular group.

        The sign is Hate-Speech against a particular group, since it says LGTB people have a comparatively higher chance of doing bad things.

        The sign is both discriminatory-entry-denial and hate-speech.

        Whether the owner loves or hates gays is irrelevant.
        Whether the owner profits from gays is irrelevant.
        The sign is the problem.

        We can neither prove nor outlaw internal feelings, nor should we try. So we needn’t speculate about owners’ internal feelings.

        We can only outlaw signs and policies which talk about specific races/persuasions/etc.

        Every establishment can and should write just one sign:
        who have broken laws or rules,
        afterwards must leave.”

        See, the kick-out can only happen AFTER the feared event occurs.

        “But but, I want to pre-emptively PREVENT crimes or rule-breaking.”

        Nope, pre-emptively PREVENTING crimes or rule-breaking is impossible, without violating human rights.

        One can only penalize people who HAVE ALREADY COMMITTED a crime, people who HAVE ALREADY BROKEN a rule.

  • I see from the map it is located in or near a dodgy part of Okubo; Kabukichou is on the other side of the train tracks, so that is quite rich barring the LGB demographic. I would have thought they would not allow tattoos or gangmembers…ah, unless of course it is part owned by the latter mentioned!

  • That place have been doing this since 2015. Their reason is that the place had a reputation of being a “hattenba” (gay sauna).
    And it’s not the first time either. Landlords also reject LGBT couples, there is widespread work discrimination, not to mention the fact that the Shibuya thing and all those other “ordinances” have absolutely no legal meaning what so ever, so they are just almost like an “LGBT identification”.
    Also, of all the LGBT people I know, no one wants to get the “partnership”, because it would just expose them to discrimination, without any kind of real world benefit.


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