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  • Tokyo Reporter: Bust of Gas Panic bars in Roppongi due to “poorly behaving” foreigners allegedly breaking J laws against “dancing”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on December 6th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

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    Hi Blog.  Sometimes it seems to me that rules in Japan are made just to keep people from having fun.  For example, cultural conventions hinder swimming after Obon in the south (despite still being jolly hot outside — I’ve been in southern Shikoku in late August and found campsites closed and beaches deserted), and have seen police command the public get out of the ocean in Okinawa (I’m told there are some times of the year when ocean swimming in this semitropical climate is officially frowned upon) on New Year’s Day.  We’ve been told we can’t play games (such as chess or euchre) at izakayas by barkeeps; similarly, in a Tokyo “Irish bar” during a JALT conference, we had Irish friends who brought out their pocket instruments to play Irish music, only to be told that it was causing discomfort to the customers (it wasn’t; people were clapping and tapping along), and they had to be quiet in favor of the canned Irish music being piped in.  Japan’s frowning on outdoor screens during the World Cup 2002 (unlike in Korea, Japan’s fans had to watch the games within walls) due to alleged traffic control and crime prevention concerns.  I’m sure Readers can come up with lots more examples — of anal-retentive people who use their power to summarily prevent public expressions of joy and release (that is, without the socially-accepted cloak of too much alcohol).

    Now we have this actually legally-established ban on “dancing without a license” after 1 a.m.  I could understand late-night controls on noise etc., but dancing??  Not only that, the cause of dancing is deemed to be foreign in origin.  Yeah right, Japanese don’t dance.  And when does dancing begin and just tapping out a rhythm end?  And when does the accusation, made below, of making the neighbors uncomfortable because foreigners are around end?

    Sounds like yet another NPA pretense to raid the “foreigner clubs”.  And it isn’t the first time — try 2007′s raid on Hiroshima’s “El Barco” (which let anyone visibly Japanese go and targeted the NJ for Immigration checks) on the charge of dancing violations, and 2009′s Roppongi bar raids and NJ spot urine checks for drugs (which in this case are supposed to require a warrant).  So I guess accusations of “dancing” are something that doesn’t involve racial profiling — unless, of course, you say that the foreigners in specific are committing them.  As the article below basically does.  Arbitrary and capricious.  Arudou Debito

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Bust of Gas Panic bars in Roppongi due to ‘poorly behaving’ foreigners

    TOKYO (TR) – The weekend bust of two popular nightclubs within the Gas Panic chain was due to the presence of undesirable foreigners, reports Nikkan Gendai (Nov. 30).

    Early Sunday morning, Tokyo Metropolitan Police entered clubs Gas Panic Bar and Club 99 in the Roppongi entertainment district and arrested managers Hidenori Wakita, 36, and Fumiki Nishihata, 35, for allowing dancing after 1 a.m. — a violation of the Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses.

    A journalist who covers the adult entertainment industry says the chain of foreigner-frequented bars is popular for those on low budgets, but in recent times police have been taking notice of trouble. “Recently, poorly behaving foreigners from the Middle East and South-East Asia have started showing up,” says the source. “They make others not want to come around, and maybe some neighbors complained.”

    The tabloid says that the raid of Gas Panic Bar occurred just before 2 a.m. “There were close to 200 customers in the place,” says a salaryman present at the time. “As the name says, it was a panic. At first, I thought they were targeting drugs or gangs. I was stunned that it was due to licensing problems since this sort of thing has been going on for 20 years.”

    The issue concerns the type of license. Establishments within the Gas Panic chain are licensed as bars, which under the Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses are not allowed to provide entertainment, such as dancing, after 1 a.m. without special authorization. Only drinking, however, is permissible.

    This was the second arrest in two years for Wakita. In 2009, police found similar violations at Club 99 and GP Bar, which is also within the Gas Panic chain, and took the manager into custody. After that, Gas Panic Bar installed a security camera at the door to alert management to turn the music down if police appeared.

    Wakita was eventually convicted.

    This latest bust sends a message, continues the adult-entertainment journalist. “The crackdown will expand,” the writer says. “There are tens of thousands of improperly licensed clubs. Gas Panic is a big name, and they have continued to ignore warnings. Perhaps the police are taking a step forward to show the serious consequences to everyone else.”
    ENDS

    36 Responses to “Tokyo Reporter: Bust of Gas Panic bars in Roppongi due to “poorly behaving” foreigners allegedly breaking J laws against “dancing””

    1. Dr. H Says:

      Do these clubs have dance floors? I can understand “You can’t dance here” in a restaurant or bar that is designed expressly for tables and chairs. But if it’s designed for dancing…then why the curfew?

      Laws against dancing….sounds like some Southern Baptists I know… he he.

    2. Al Says:

      The swimming thing is probably connected to the box jellyfish.

    3. giles Says:

      Is this a joke? illegal dancing!!, cute a bit retro…is this law based on the plot of footloose? I love the idea!! bravo

    4. Mumei Says:

      This appears to the be the relevant law:
      http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/S23/S23HO122.html

      I briefly skimmed it during lunch.
      The only part that seems to apply is 3.13.

      第三章
      第十三条  風俗営業者は、午前零時(都道府県が習俗的行事その他の特別な事情のある日として条例で定める日にあつては当該事情のある地域として当該条例で定める地域内は午前零時以後において当該条例で定める時、当該条例で定める日以外の日にあつては午前一時まで風俗営業を営むことが許容される特別な事情のある地域として政令で定める基準に従い都道府県の条例で定める地域内に限り午前一時)から日出時までの時間においては、その営業を営んではならない。

      Essentially, the establishment can only be open until 12 AM. Or 1 AM when permitted.
      I guess this is where the 1 AM part comes from in the article.
      But it does not explain “Only drinking, however, is permissible [after 1 AM].”

      Other than that a place that allows dancing is covered by this law (2.1), I did not specifically notice any particular laws prohibiting dancing in itself, regardless of the time. I suppose that there could be more regulations in the types of permits that are issued, though.

    5. Deepspacebeans Says:

      It is unusual for one of the larger clubs to be hit, but these clubs come and go all the time. Perhaps some people complained. Perhaps Wakita had been neglecting to grease the proper palms to make sure concerned parties continue to turn a blind eye. If it is indicative of a mass crackdown on such establishments, it would be a dramatic shift in police enforcement of such regulations and would likely end with larger club owners and those that profit from these establishments lobbying to have the regulations changed.

      I am somewhat sympathetic to the complaints re their poorly behaving clientele, but they are not any worse than some middle-aged drunkard wandering around in Tokyo at 2am.

    6. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Well, we all know the allegations about a cozy relationship between the mob and the police, so I guess they haven’t got much to do except clamp on minor issues using out-dated laws based on rather liberal interpretation. After all, the J-police have to been seen doing something with all the tax yen. And what better way to do it that to promote it as yet another example of foreigners being a danger to ‘safe, country of law’ Japan? Why don’t they try cracking down on those kids riding 125cc motorbikes with high decibel exhausts outside my apartment all bloody night? I am pretty sure they are Japanese.

    7. jim Says:

      this is strange because a majority of people that are going to gaspanic are Japanese. and a handful of marines that like to visit the meat market on weekends. I guess the bored key-stone cops have nothing better to do with there free time.

    8. Nevin Says:

      Debito, people don’t swim here in Fukui (and in San’in and Hokuriku) after Obon because there are too many jellyfish that have a painful sting that leave raised welts. People still go camping until the start of school in September.

      However, it would be nice if the beautiful outdoor pool in Tsuruga was open after September 1st.

    9. fly Says:

      This has happened, increasingly more so since 2000 but also in the 90s, because Japan, even more than America, is one of the most over RATIONALIZED and consumerized societies. Just read Max Weber, or Ritzer`s “Macdonaldization” (1993).

      Removing dancing from a bar or club with music (the “unfortunate” human side effect of such a “shop”), is an attempt to dumb it all down to its controllable, consuming/mercantile aspect but as its machine minded Rationalization; they forgot that people go to said club or bar not to just buy a drink! Cops dont care though, a quiet town is an esier one to police (they think).

      Tokyo lifestyle is largely now one “that offers no surprises” as “consumers move from one controlled experience to another”. You go into Macdonalds to buy a burger, you get only that, you do not get small talk, (the one time I did the poor NJ girl was “let go” soon after, clearly too spontaneous), you then move into Starbucks and the process-because it is such a process-is repeated.

      You know exactly what to expect, you largely know what someone will say if you ask them something. It seems more and more the only time something really out of the ordinary happens nowadays is what someone alienated by this system just explodes and starts knifing people on the street. Or spontaneous street art if you are lucky; a male Japanese friend of mine was arrested for being “semi naked” (actually just no shirt) as a butohesque dancer outside his local station.

      No dancing in a club is; “settings in which people cannot always behave as human beings” and of course it is irrational, yet rational as it follows a rule. And in Japan, Neo Confucian rules are cherished.What we are seeing is the revival of the control aspects of Neo Confucianism (e.g. those Center gai ojisans going around barking at the young in Shibuya for sitting on the street, etc http://www.japanprobe.com/2008/02/23/the-shibuya-center-gai-patrol-keeping-shibuya-clean-through-intimidation/), using the tool of nationalism, or “The Big J-Society” (We are all in this together, “Ganbatte Nihon”, so share and share alike the Fukushima rice, debris etc)to facilitate the smooth running of faltering consumerism. (So no you cannot sit on the street or lean on a rail in Shibuya because its FREE, go and CONSUME!). Japan is very convenient-the train takes you right into the department store, after all.

      “Most specifically, irrationality means that rational systems are unreasonable systems. By that I mean that they deny the basic humanity, the human reason, of the people who work within or are served by them.” (Ritzer 1994:154)

      A club with music does not just exist to serve drinks (though that is the purely capitalist transaction of it, and a perfect example of Over Rationalisation-ie. remove the “unpredicatable” human aspect and just try to keep the money making part). And it is well near impossible to have an audible conversation.

      So yes it is irrational to not allow dancing in a club or bar. Its actually not new in Tokyo; there was a silly one in Jiyugaoka in the early 90s that had a dance floor, glitterball, a pole and strobe lighting and YET there was a sign saying “No Dancing”. I put it to the test, just tapped my feet a bit to the dance music playing and immediately some jobsworth comes over with crossed arms. Sure, it was easy to hate on him at the time but what probably had happened was the police killjoys had, for whatever reason, visited the place and told him to put the sign up. Maybe they hadnt been paid off, or maybe it was because it was in Jiyugaoka, not Roppongi.

      Might I suggest that people take their dancing into the street, in the words of Martha and the Vandellas. We already see this with a plethora of bands and acts around the train stations (lets face it, who needs a live house? Its behind closed doors, the band has to pay to rent the place, only their friends come). They cannot all be arrested without a riot breaking out, and that would not be good for Japan`s image. At a time when expats hesitate a posting to Tokyo, you cannot even have a good time now?? Well, that sounds heavenly, all Gaman without the stress release!

      This is the inevitable movement to the street of spontaneity as the only way to break out of the awful Weberian “Iron Cage” that has been imposed on the working people of Japan. Hobbies and weekends are, it has often been said, the only realm where most Japanese can really have freedom of expression (forget source for the last quote, but its from a social text).

    10. Anon Says:

      Did you know: running “a place of Gambling” is illegal in Japan, the penalty is prison.
      But the police in Japan don’t bust the places of Gambling (Pachinko) that pay the bribes.
      You have to pay the police bribes plus pretend that customers are NOT receiving any money.

      Did you know: running “a place of Paid Sex” is illegal in Japan, the penalty is prison.
      But the police in Japan don’t bust the places of Paid Sex (Herusu) that pay the bribes.
      You have to pay the police bribes plus pretend that customers are NOT receiving any sex.

      Wow: running “an Unlicensed place of Dancing” is illegal in Japan, the penalty is prison.
      But the police in Japan don’t bust those Unlicensed places of Dancing that pay the bribes.
      So, you have to pay the police bribes plus pretend that customers are NOT doing any dancing.

      Hmm, Wakita-san was convicted in 2009: he should have just bought the damn Dancing License.
      I guess he could say, “But that license is expensive!” but I’ll bet he owned a Benz or two.

      On one hand, I find it hard to feel bad for the owner who knowingly profited from illegality.
      On the other hand, I am against legal statutes that are unlawful: i.e. where no VICTIM exists!

      The law states that for a crime to have occurred there must be a victim. No victim = no crime.
      For example, unless someone claims to have been harmed by the gambling/sex/dancing: no real crime.
      The rulers are simply utilizing unlawful legal statutes to force the ruled to pay bribes & fines.

    11. AJ Says:

      Funny that they don’t mind all night dancing at the gujo odori matsuri in Gifu prefecture. There’s always plenty of foreigners there!

      The reporting I’ve seen on this particular instance is irresponsible to the point of farce. “Police target nightclub owners for licensing violations. Foreigners to blame.” was the basic gist. Amazing.

    12. AJ Says:

      I forgot to mention instances of teenagers and hip twenty something’s constantly play music on boomboxes on the streets and in parks here in Aichi at all hours of the day night and morning, practicing their break dancing and j pop dance moves, and I’ve NEVER seen them harassed.

    13. RMax Says:

      Hey, hey, hey. There isn’t any law against dancing, fellows. What is going on there is that GasPanic don’t want to license the bar as a disco dancing facility. And it seems also that the NJ who went to the place before are having prejudice against the foreigner Asians new customers. Sad.

    14. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @Fly
      Great post! Sums up so much of what I have been thinking about this. I especially like the connection with the Center Gai Oji-sans and Neo-Confucianism. Spot on analysis I would say.

      @Fly and AJ;
      As with so many of Japan’s problems, can we anticipate a ‘tipping point’ where the public will refuse to ‘gaman’ and bite back?

    15. Eric Kalmus Says:

      You will assimilate.

    16. fly Says:

      @AJ, like I said. Take to the streets.

      “Today we would have riots but back then it felt more like dancing”- Todd Haynes.

    17. Maxabillion Slartibartfast Says:

      It’s time to cut loose. Footloose.

    18. Inflames Says:

      In Osaka the clubs here have been getting shut down for a year. I can’t think of a club that hasn’t been shut down. The owner of two clubs (the first two targeted) was arrested.

      I have an acquaintance who owns a bar in Osaka and I was talking with him right after it started happening. I was told that it was the prefectural police doing it. He also told me that he had to go to them to get a license for the bar – the first two times it got rejected (according to him, just for the sake of being rejected).

    19. A Taylor Says:

      Japan`s late bar licensing laws seem to contradict basic Duran Duranie philosophical thought:

      There’s an all night party in room 7609
      (La-la-la late bar la la la la la la la late)
      You can dance together all night, if you’ve got the time
      (La-la-la late bar la la la la la la la late)

      All night, Le Bon said. (Posted to make Debito smile)

      – I’m impressed. Only the fanatical DD fans know their song Late Bar! (Never been featured on a studio album…) But we digress… :)

    20. Sandyman Says:

      “Anon”:

      >Did you know: running “a place of Gambling” is illegal in Japan, the penalty is prison.
      >But the police in Japan don’t bust the places of Gambling (Pachinko) that pay the bribes.
      >You have to pay the police bribes plus pretend that customers are NOT receiving any money.

      I’m not sure what kind of fantasy world you’re living in, but your claims are absolute rubbish.

      Pachinko escapes prosecution because they use little balls rather than money. Gambling is only illegal if cash is involved. They exploit a loophole in the law which involves a third-party company buying back the balls (so that people can “claim” their winnings) and then reselling them to the parlor.

    21. El-Guapo Says:

      The rules are rather simple. If you want to have a “dance hall” you can only stay open until midnight (1am in certain locations). If you want to have a bar you can stay open later.

      The background is “dance halls” used to be a euphemism for a whorehouse where you would go, dance with a young lass, and if she caught your fancy you could then arrange for a private “dance”. The stigma still remains even if the pink shops have moved on to other names.

      I used to go to a place many years ago that had a dance floor that would close and kick everyone out at midnight then reopen a few minutes later with tables on the dance floor as a “bar” (and no, dancing was not allowed). So you can skirt the law if you do it right.

      As for the sex shop comment, I heard they cleaned up the red light district in Yokohama (where a friend once decided to try to get a beer in one of the “bars”, the operator locked the door behind him as he went in, then she came running out and headed for the 7-11 down the street also locking the door on her way out, my friend wound up climbing out the window confused because the bar didn’t have any beer!) And if anyone was going to be paying protection money it would have been the whore houses, so I don’t think your comment on people bribing the police holds any water.

      Pink shops and home health services get away with it because of the strict legal definition of sex – thanks to their Clintonesque definition getting a rub-n-tug or a hummer isn’t sex (and it’s uniformly applied too, think back to the cop some years ago who was anally raping women because legally that’s assault not rape and carries a much lower jail term).

      So much like the bar I used to frequent, if they had followed the letter of the law they’d be fine. Instead they got a valuable lesson in “don’t give the cops an excuse for busting you, the laws stupid but it is the law.”

    22. AJ Says:

      It’s fun to make jokes, and I’m all about that, but I think the bigger issue is how it’s been portrayed by the media. Damn gaijin and their noisy drunk dancing. When race has got nothing to do with it.

      There are enough people out there intimidated by a foreign presence anywhere that they will call the police if they think there’s too many of them having too much fun in their backyard. Tell me it isn’t so fellas.

    23. Anon Says:

      The police know that every Pachinko place is buying the balls out the back window = gambling.
      Pachinko owners pay Yakuza for “protection”, Yakuza Heads pay Police Chiefs to look the other way.
      (The occasional busts are a result of the owner’s not paying the police bribe through the Yakuza.)
      Pretending to not be buying balls is an essential factor: Payoffs are the other essential factor.

      The police know that every Herusu (and Deri-Herusu) place offers vaginal penetration = paid sex.
      Herusu owners pay Yakuza for “protection”, Yakuza Heads pay Police Chiefs to look the other way.
      (The occasional busts are a result of the owner’s not paying the police bribe through the Yakuza.)
      Pretending to not be selling sex is an essential factor: Payoffs are the other essential factor.

    24. ML Says:

      Police in Japan seems have asymmetric risk of getting foreigner.
      if they made mistake, the foreigner is innocent. they have nothing to loose.at most they may apologize(while in most of the case, they dont even have to) .
      if they get illegal foreigner. they may get promoted.

    25. fly Says:

      -”A journalist who covers the adult entertainment industry says the chain of foreigner-frequented bars is popular for those on low budgets, but in recent times police have been taking notice of trouble. “Recently, poorly behaving foreigners from the Middle East and South-East Asia have started showing up,” says the source. “They make others not want to come around, and maybe some neighbors complained.”

      This bit made me laugh sardonically though, its that nasty old cliche of how Japan wants the “good” gaijin but due to economic realities and being poorer now at attracting (rich, white) people from the developed world where they may have rights and lifestyle choices, end up with the “gaijin” they didnt want from less advantaged countries- racist hierarchy again:

      The wrong type of gaijin? Reminds me of a Japan Times (?) article entitled “McEnglish-do you want fries with that?” or similar a couple of years back about how, due to falling pay and conditions, the future English teacher in Japan (and thus, getting their jollies at low cost establishments such as Gas Panic) would likely be from the Middle East or The Philippines. (I am not saying there arent excellent teachers from those countries, just that they do not fit into the traditional stereotype of the kind of teacher some Japanese say they want, ie. based on racial stereotypes- digression necessary to avoid hate mail).

    26. Klausi Says:

      @ Al: box yellies occur in Okinawa only in the late summer, and it’s easy to protect yourself against these, with a rashguard or a long-sleeved t-shirt. I doubt that the police had these in mind.

    27. Fly Says:

      Anon`s comments seem to back up the Tatemae thread- these are all Zones of Pragmatic Deceit, necessary lies to maintain face or work around a silly law without changing or confronting it, like in Islamic countries. E.g. “We do not sell pachinko balls, honest!” And “No full sex, we are Japanese!”
      I once met a lesbian working in a Shinjuku, ahem, “establishment”- she said she did not have sex with clients, as she only gave, in her words, “Lip Service” which was not “sex”- well, legally in Japan it is not, though I answered, “Well, what IS it then?” To which she replied, “…….”
      Thats taking tatemae and denial to new heights, but thats what got her through the night, at least for a while anyway.

      “Whatever gets you through the night, just keep on dancing” (just not in Gas Panic).
      (Song called “Adolescent Sex”, by the group “Japan”!)

    28. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @Klausi
      Fair point, but I would refer you back to Fly at #9.

      I think that this is a symptom of a society where virtually every activity has been ‘packaged’ and ‘managed’ to the point where spontaneity is almost voluntarily avoided in order to avoid the risk of ‘the unknown’.
      When I travel with Japanese friends, there is no sense that relaxing is the objective, the main objective is the completion of the schedule, and all the ‘packaged’ high-lights that await (the guide book says ‘go here’, ‘eat this’, and so it must be done!).
      This voluntary adoption of the packaged experience of life can be seen in such things as my friends and colleagues (passing) interests such things as golf, photography, or hiking; all the most professional kit must be purchased to be even an amateur (example, all the Oji-sans and Oba-sans who go hiking equipped ready to take on Everest). There is the sense that they do it this way because that is ‘how it is supposed to be done’ with very little apparent independent thinking, or critical analysis (when was the last time a group of 80+ hikers got lost for days hiking around Hiei-zan, for example?). It is this risk-averse nature (that is so prevalent in Japan) that produces an expectation on the part of the government and the police that Japanese people actually want to be herded and treated like children.
      It reinforces Neo-Confucian hierarchical relationships, and is a cornerstone of the perception of Japanese ‘harmony’, and relegates the ‘unpackaged’, ‘unmanaged’, ‘unknown’ experience as being ‘non-Japanese’. Hence the connection to (and anxiety of) NJ.
      But please note, even in their perception of NJ, the Japanese distinguish between the ‘good’ (known), and the ‘bad’ (unknown) NJ, as Fly notes above. The ‘good’ NJ are supposed to be white, blue-eyed, and blonde English speakers, preferably working for a big name company that the Japanese will recognize, and (presumably) going back to their own country to live at some point. The ‘bad’ NJ are from some abstract part of Asia or Arabia, places that the average Japanese know (or care to know) very little about. Who are they? Where are they from? What are they doing here? What are they saying (in that unfamiliar language)? Will they go home? Too many unknowns for the average ‘frog in the pond who knows nothing of the sea’ (as it were).

    29. T Says:

      What was going on there was nothing different than happens at Ageha, or any other Japanese place. The only difference os there were foreign men hooking up with Japanese women, and that is the behavior they are trying to discourage. Illegal dancing is just the pretext.

    30. Blackrat Says:

      Someone mentioned the Irish “theme pubs”. I remember one in Tokyo which really looked the part. Whoever designed it had an incredible eye for accuracy and detail, even the manager was an authentic Irishman. Obviously he was just doing what he was paid to do, but I heard how he threw some people out for having the audacity to get up and dance to a visiting Irish folk band. Never mind that Irish folk music is dance music, never mind this is supposed to be a more than reasonable fascimilie of an Irish pub. The joint used to be packed out with a lot of foreign-born regulars any given night of the week, but now it’s easy to get a seat almost anytime. Most of the remaining drinkers are Japanese couples, one or two college students, and groups of “salarymen” having their business cum drinking sessions. Talk about killing the goose that laid the golden eggs. Sheesh!

    31. An Irishman Says:

      Actually I now of at least a couple of Irish pubs in Tokyo where, token gaijin barman aside, they cater mainly to the Japanese clientale. They are fairly foreigner friendly especially if you are a regular, its just that with a change of management from gaijin to Japanese, the new management advertised in the Japanese media instead of Metropolis and got a larger, 95% Japanese customer base, fairly inevitably.

      Sometimes we were the only foreigners there. Actually they liked this, as it made their bar appear more “International” but not intimidatingly so for fearful homely types; the ones fearful to tread in Roppongi etc. Too many gaijins there!

      Tokenism meets marketing.And as usual, its just the IMAGE of internationalism in Japan, the tatemae. Nice place to drink, maybe the “Acceptable face of gaijin culture” but still “Thru the J filter” and a “Plastic Paddy” experience. And bloody expensive.

      Not really spontaneous, a “controlled, over-rationalized” experience, as previously talked about (Ritzer).

      “Do you want Guinness with that sushi?”

    32. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @Blackrat,

      When I first came to Japan, I used to go to ‘gaijin bars’ and ‘irish bars’. At the weekends, they were pretty much just meat markets, but weekday evening drinkers were salarymen looking for some kind of ‘gaijin experience’, and as I came to learn Japanese, I realized that most of these experience hunting salaryman customers were in fact being incredibly rude about the NJ customers in ways that they would never dream of being rude to another Japanese. Unfortunately, most of the NJ customers could never speak enough Japanese to work it out. But essentially, the point is that these places fit in the the ‘known/unkown’ discussion above. The japanese customers wanted to see what life was like through the looking glass, but only from the safety of their own side. I mean, seriously, how many bars back home have a man that greats you at the door, and asks you ‘How many (in your party)’, or where the staff tell you where you can sit?

    33. Blackrat Says:

      @Jim Di Griz.

      I couldn’t agree more. The whole “Irish theme pub” in Japan experience is just one more example of what you refer to as the “packaging” in your post above (#28) The bar I’m talking about was formerly a regular hang-out for a fairly large group of foreigners. It’s my guess that many of them stopped drinking there partly due to the attitude of the manager and some of the bar staff. Conversely, it could be a sign that there are less Westerners in Tokyo than, say ten years ago. A lot of the people I used to see in that pub seem to have left Japan in the past five years or so and very few have taken their place. An Irishmen mentioned a change of managers might result in an overwhelmingly Japanese customer base.

      I certainly see your point about making the Japanese feel safe in a watered down version of the real thing with just enough token foreigners there to make it seem authentic.

    34. Jiong Says:

      @ Jim Di Griz,

      Interesting how you note that as you learned more Japanese you started noticing all the little linguistic slights and subtle ways the J customers were mocking when chatting to NJ clientele. When I visited Seoul the other month I was out drinking with a mate of mine who is fluent in Korean. The same thing happened there, where a couple of Korean guys would approach us to chat. However, after a while my mate would get annoyed and we’d make our excuses and leave. He told me afterwards about how they were mocking us and being deliberately disrespectful in their language, thinking we wouldn’t understand (well, I didn’t!).

      In China, were I live and speak Chinese, it happens less frequently and when it does the mocking is generally some idiot who thinks it’s funny to speak to a foreigner in a ‘foreigner speaking Chinese’ voice. Sadly, just as with some of the NJ customers you mentioned, some people aren’t quite at the level where they can distinguish between a regional Chinese accent and someone taking the piss.

      – We’re getting off track.

    35. Erik Says:

      I don’t feel sorry for Wakita. If he wants to operate a nightclub, he should get the proper license.

    36. James Says:

      I believe this law was part of a 1957 or or 1958 anti-prostitution law. Just after the war apparently a lot of “dance halls” had prostitution. However, today, the police clearly use this antiquated law to target bars they don’t like and want to shut down. Translation, when the cops come by and tell you something you had better listen or they’ll use an antiquated law to bust you.

      That being said, it is the law that if you want to have dancing you need to apply for that type of license, which requires a place to close by 1:00a.m. I think there are some other distasteful things that clubs have to do for this license. These clubs that are getting busted want to stay open all night and don’t want to comply so they don’t get dancing licenses.

      Also, a place can be busted at any time. It doesn’t have to be after 1:00a.m. Just over a year ago Midas was busted just after 10:00pm. The resulting Y1.5 million fine before the owner was allowed out of jail bankrupted the place and it closed.

      The bottom line is that the law says get a license and close by 1:00a.m. These places just ignore the law, so in the end it’s their own fault or perhaps just considered a cost of doing business.

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