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Hi Blog. Let me turn the keyboard over to Kyushu visitor DB, who catalogs the latest permutation of Japan’s “omotenashi” towards NJ tourists, where “hospitality” meets Japan’s inevitable “separate but equal” ideologies. Dr. Debito Arudou
April 6, 2018
Hi there Debito,
Are you aware there is a “Japanese only” information booth at JR Beppu Station? My partner and I walked in to get some information about a local onsen travel route. The woman sitting at the available desk basically refused to deal with us, and told us to go to the desk for foreigners. She initially pretended that the desk was for Japanese language help only. When we pointed out that we could speak Japanese (we had been the whole time) she shifted her excuse. The whole time she leant way back in her chair, and spoke in an extremely dismissively rude tone. In six years living in Japan I have never been treated as poorly.
After we gave up and walking out half in shock I noticed the signage. The ambiguity of “Japanese” here covers the apparent reality that they actually will refuse to serve anybody not visibly Japanese regardless of language ability.
While the “Japanese only” info desk was next to the front exit, directly connected to the main hall that has the ticket gate, the other “foreigner info” desk was a booth that was set up in the adjoining part of the building where the restaurants are. It wasn’t too far away, but it was clearly set up after the fact in order to keep the increasing number of foreign visitors separated out. There was a hand written sign noting that the staff could speak English and Chinese. Although the other desk had four staff, this one had one or two depending on the time if day (two initially, one when I passed by later). The service was fine. (But of course, we used Japanese there anyway because that’s simply easier, so there was zero point in moving except because we were forced to. )
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