Don't let anyone convince you
that the problem isn't spreading
nationwide in Japan...
PHOTOS OF PLACES IN JAPAN WHICH EXCLUDE OR RESTRICT NON-JAPANESE CUSTOMERS
(Last revised January 2010)
Page down to English explanation of this site's goals and modus operandi
Page down immediately to index of places with exclusionary signs
（北海道 稚 内市（温泉、スポーツ店舗、理髪店）、紋別市（レストラン、カラオケ店、温泉、バー）、小樽市（温泉）、札幌市（ラーメン屋、バー）青森県三沢市（バー）、秋田県秋田市（ディスコ）、東京都新 宿区と歌舞伎町（ホテル、バー）、東京都港区青 山通り（女性専用エステサロン）、東京都荻窪（ホテル、バー）、 東京都南麻布（バレースクール）、東京都秋葉原（雑貨店）、埼玉県 越谷市（バーなど）、埼 玉県戸田市（バーなど）、山梨県甲府市 （温泉）、群 馬県伊勢崎市（バーなど）、群馬県太田市（バー）、静岡県 浜松市（雑貨店、宝石屋、バーなど）、名古屋市（ディスコ）、岡崎市（インタネットカフェー）、北國新聞石川県野 々市（北國新聞のセールズ）、京 都府（ホテル）、大阪府大東市（眼鏡屋）、大阪市福島区（不動産屋）、岡山県 倉敷市（バー）、広島県広島市（バーなど）、北九州市小倉（レストラン）、沖縄県う るま市具志川（ビリヤード店）、そ の他、場所（東京都池袋、東京都築地、広島）・年月日が不明の看板）
What this page is for:
being a signatory (since 1995) to the UN Convention
on Racial Discrimination,
has taken no legislative action to bar businesses and other public
places from refusing
entry to customers based on nationality and race. Starting from 1993 in
Otaru, Hokkaido, and
now running unchecked
throughout Japan, signs saying "JAPANESE ONLY" etc have gone up,
making an unspoken
undercurrent of fear of the outsider into clear, present, and brazen
the best traditions of segregation and apartheid. The Japanese
government's steadfast refusal
this form of discrimination by nationality and race has only made the
so the time has come for the grassroots to take matters to the street.
Or to the
internet, as it were.
This page will call for the sanction of public shame by putting up photos of those exclusionary enterprises, including name, address, phone number, etc. The photos have dates for when they were taken. Some signs depicted may (thankfully) no longer be up; however, the photos will stay up in perpetuity, as a record of past misdeeds that should not be allowed to fade into anecdotery (criminal records, after all, linger for individual miscreants). Contact the business in question to see if an excusionary policy is still in effect.
Submissions to The Rogues' Gallery are welcome.
the submitter to please send a
reasonable-quality photo of 1) the storefront (if
possible with name of the establishment clear and the sign displayed) and
2) a closeup of the
exclusionary sign, dated, with
the name and approximate address of the place. (Sorry,
we cannot "just take your word for it" that some place excluded you--we
need a sign of some sort or else there will be libel lawsuits). I would prefer that
these places be open to anyone
(i.e. that these places not be sex shops or enterprises specifically
to the prurient interest--because in these cases the issue gets blurry.
bars, discos, etc are acceptible.). Particularly
those which are essential for daily life (hotels, stores, restaurants,
housing etc.). Your
anonymity will be respected. That's
what the photos are for--incontrovertible evidence.
I recommend that readers tell their friends, particularly their Japanese friends, to stay away from the following establishments, even register a complaint with the owner or manager for an unreasonable policy. Japanese yen coming from foreigners has the same value as if it came from a Japanese. There is no justifiable reason whatsoever, regardless of the business' past experience with some foreign custom, to apply a blanket exclusion to everyone who looks foreign. That is why there is an international treaty against it.
And why, if Japan would keep treaty promises made all the way back in 1996, there should be a law against it.
-- Arudou Debito (formerly Dave Aldwinckle), Monitor, The Rogues' Gallery
(Address: Otaru-Shi Temiya 1-5-20, Phone (0134) 31-4444) EXCLUDES FOREIGNERS FROM ITS OPENING DAY, JULY 1998.
tall photo on the left was taken on Sept 19, 1999 in front of Yunohana
"Onsen" super-sento, the largest family-oriented bathhouse in Otaru.
Note the red arrow. It points to a doorside placard exclaiming in red orthography "JAPANESE ONLY" in English, Japanese, and Russian. Closeup of this sign is directly below this text. (Photo Credits: Olaf Karthaus)
However, as the sign in English proved highly photogenic in the international media, it would be replaced (see below)
(Photos courtesy Dave Aldwinckle Jan 3, 2000)
new sign still refuses foreigners by saying, in translation
by Arudou Debito,
"Due to various
circumstances, we are refusing entry to foreigners. Furthermore, we
will be deliberating
on this policy from now on."
This "deliberation period
would stretch stretch out for over a year--even for two and a half
months after Arudou
Debito went to the onsen on Oct 31, 2000 to be refused
as a Japanese citizen.
It ended suddenly
when a lawsuit against them for racial discrimination was made public
on Jan 16,
2001; within 24 hours, within the wee hours of Jan 17, 2001, the sign
was down and
replaced by two photocopies--outlining bathing rules provided by the
city, and four conditions for entry for foreigners
only. But only, of
course, after sixteen months (Sept 1999
to Jan 2001) of fruitless negotiations with Yunohana and hand-wringing
by the Otaru
STATUS REPORT: In April 2006, the Otaru Lawsuit finished--the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal, claiming it is "not a constitutional issue". Read more about the Otaru Onsens Case in book form here in two languages. Yunohana still refuses all foreigners "who do not speak Japanese" at all (now three) of their bathhouses--in Otaru Temiya, Otaru Asari, and Sapporo Minami-ku Jozankei, one of Hokkaido's biggest onsen resort areas.
"Yukemuri Monbetsu Tokkari no Yu" bathhouse
(Monbetsu-shi Saiwai-chou 4-1-1, Ph. 01582-4-1726), opened April 2003
as a public-private
sector hybrid (dai-san sector). Photo taken Sept 16, 2003.
The Japanese version of the sign translates as: "Because manners are not observed, for the time being, we refuse entry to all sailors of foreign ships." The Russian version is much more direct: "Where is, dear sirs, your respect for our rules? In the bath the entrance of STAFF OF FOREIGN SHIPS is temporarily PROHIBITED."
ロシア語で この看板はもっと率直です（ロシア語が読める友人が出典、●●の間は強調のために 原文が大文字）。
「船員様よ、我々の ●ルール● に対する尊 敬はどうなりましたか？当分の間、我々の風呂には ●外国船乗り組み員● の入浴が ●禁じられています●」。
According to the Japanese press, the bathhouse claims Russian sailors have been making a mess and decided to ban their entry. It joins the ranks of Hamanasu Shoutengai and Monbetsu Onsen (behind Monbetsu Prince Hotel), which have been refusing all foreigners with "Japanese Only Store" signs ("nihonjin senyou ten", in Russian, see below) and policies unabated since 2000 (http:// www.debito.org/lawsuitbackground.html#end-year), despite government warnings and negative publicity.
FURTHER SUBSTANTIATION: See Sept 8, 2003 Hokkaido Shinbun and Mainichi Shinbun articles in Japanese.
STATUS REPORT: SUCCESS! Thanks to all the
press coverage, as of January 23, 2004, "Yukemuri Monbetsu
Tokkari no Yu"
has taken its signs down (see photo above) and opened its
doors to customers
of all nationalities (However, they do explain the rules using
at the counter to foreign-looking customers; so if you find that
Politely express your discontent to the management. This is still
taken by Arudou Debito on February 5, 2004. Click on photo to see
And as of January 4, 2005, a visit Tokkari no Yu revealed a sign that
says, in Russian
and Japanese, that rules must be followed or the police will be
contacted. We were
given no hassles at the counter, either. Three Russians we met inside
(click on pictures to see larger image)
LOCATION: "JOY" Restaurant (a buffet all-you-can-eat style family restaurant inside the abovementioned "Yukemuri Monbetsu Tokkari no Yu" bathhouse)
Sign outside the premises (in Russian only) says:
English: "Please. If you are not accompanied by a Japanese or by a Japanese speaker, you are not allowed to enter the premises."
Japanese: 「お願い。日本人あるいは日本語をしゃ べれる人と一緒じゃないと入れません」
Photos taken November 15, 2003, by Arudou Debito
UPDATE: Joy took their sign down in February 2004, and as of Jan 3, 2005, has menus in Russian, including a notice in Russian that they now serve vodka. Bravo! ジョイは０４年２月に 看板を外し、０５年１月現在、ロシア語のメニューを提示しています。ありがとうご ざいました！）(click here to see photo)
LOCATION: One of many eating and drinking establishments in Hamanasu Doori, Monbetsu, Hokkaido. Photo taken July 2000 by Hokkaido Shinbun. NHK reported on July 4, 2000, that the Ministry of Justice Division of Human Rights, Asahikawa Branch, issued a letter of warning (Japanese here) to a restaurateur's union (inshokuten kumiai) in Hamanasu Doori, a nightlife district in Monbetsu City, Hokkaido. This union, it is revealed, has since 1995 actively solicited, made, and sold signs which said, in Cyrillic, "Japanese-Only Store" (see photo at left)--ostensibly to shut out all Russian sailors visiting this seaport town. By year-end and despite the Ministry Justice, a February 28, 2001 broadcast of TBS TV Program "Koko ga Hen da yo, Nihonjin", about 50 establishments still have the exclusionary signs up. Examples (click on pictures to see larger image):
(Sunakku "Don", Monbetsu Hamanasu Doori) ２００５年１月４日現在、看板は未だに掲げています。
(Karaoke Parlor "O-edo", Monbetsu-shi Honmachi 5-chome, Tel 01582-3-1010. Click on picture to see larger image)
(２００５年１月４日 現在、看板は外されています。ここをク リックして ご覧下さい。）
Monbetsu Onsen "Bijin no Yu", Monbetsu-shi Minato-chou 7, Ph 01582-3-7909
All Photos taken November 15, 2003, by Arudou Debito
Signs still up as of January 5, 2006.
Oden, Yakitori, and Ramen Restaurant
(Monbetsu-shi Honmachi 6-chome 4-26)
Signs are still up at these and fifteen other establishments in Monbetsu Hamanasu Doori as of January 5, 2008
Note that this is not a bar, with inebriation part of the patronage, or a public bath which can claim contagion or problems with public health. This is a restaurant. What's next? Supermarkets? Hospitals? We already have instances of refusals at a sports store and a barber in Wakkanai...
（注意 ：これはレストランです。飲屋ではなく、公衆浴場ではありません。次ぎはスー パーや病院ですか。稚内市で のスポーツ店や理髪店の ケー スは既にありましたが・・・）
Nov 15, 2003 Monbetsu Report available here.
after removing its "Japanese Speakers Only" sign from its menu stand. Karaoke Parlor
"O-edo" has its "Japanese Only" sign in Russian taken down by Olaf
Karthaus (left) and Arudou Debito.
NEW STATUS REPORT: (February 9, 2004) SUCCESS! Thanks to all the press coverage and repeated entreaties to the management by Olaf Karthaus and Arudou Debito to take the signs down, both Karaoke Parlor O-edo and Restaurant "Joy" have taken their signs down (see photos below) and opened its doors to customers of all nationalities. (Photos taken by Arudou Debito and friends on February 6 and 7, 2004. Click on photos to see larger image.).
(February 6, 2004, Monbetsu, Hokkaido)
(February 8, 2004, Monbetsu, Hokkaido)
However, the signs still remain up at Sunakku "Don" and Monbetsu Onsen, as well as 26 other places around Monbetsu, according to local sources which went from bar to bar on a sign hunt on January 30, 2004. A cursory search by Rogues' Gallery Monitor on January 3-5, 2005 still found at least five in plain sight.
Other Reference Materials:
after removing its "Japanese Speakers Only" sign from its menu stand.
"O-edo" has its "Japanese Only" sign in Russian taken down by Olaf
Karthaus (left) and Arudou Debito.
UPDATE AUGUST 2006:
Another sign bites the dust:
Location: Yakiniku Restaurant Mitsuen (Monbetsu Ph 01582-4-3656), just off Hamanasu Doori. Hear a sound file of how Rogues' Gallery Monitor Arudou Debito (pictured above in tip-top condition, having cycled 800 kms to get there negotiated to get the sign down (with Debito stuttering in surprise at how easy it was, and Chris giggling at the end)! Note the recording device on Debito's collar, and the cat to the back left. That cat was fed shortly before by the owners. Cats welcome, foreigners not. Luckily, when we asked them to take the sign down, they quickly complied! Pity it only took six years and a coaxing from us.
(２００１ 年４月和英ルポはこちらです。2001 Eyewitness report in English and Japanese here.）
YURANSEN ONSEN (Wakkanai-Shi
Suehiro 3-6, Ph (0162) 24-2619--see sign at right), which actually
entrances for foreigners. There are three segregated
BATHS, which as offically-recognized Public Baths (Koushuu
360 yen to get into (460 additional for sauna entry), and FAMILY
cost 800 yen; both of these facilities are forbidden to foreigners.
The third facility is the SAUNA FOR FOREIGN GUESTS (see pictures below), where foreigners pay a flat fee of 2500 yen (including rental of towel, trunks, and bathrobe). This is in violation of Section Two, Clause 1 of the Hokkaido Public Bath Ordinance (Koushuu Yokujou Hou Shikou Jourei, Hokkaido Jourei No 3), which establishes that Public Baths are "necessary and essential" (hitsuyou fukaketsu) enterprises for the public health of "regional residents" (chiiki juumin)--which of course includes taxpaying foreigners. It is also unisex (not divided between male and female sections), which is illegal.
Governmental awareness of this activity has been confirmed by Mr Kouno, Wakkanai Hokensho Seikatsu Eiseika Kankyou Eisei Kakari (ph. 0162-23-6161), who acknowledges this exclusion of foreigners but claims they are powerless to stop it. Moreover, this flaunting of the law has an important impact on the atmosphere of enforcement. Mr Ohshima, owner of the Wakkanai franchise of the Yuransen chain, told Dave Aldwinckle on April 9, 2000, "Everyone know's I'm doing this, and nobody has stopped me. So it is not illegal." Moreover, Mr Ohshima told Olaf Karthaus, fellow coordinator of this project, who was turned away at the door on August 10, 1998, after cycling 141 kms: "Well, Otaru is doing it, so so can we."
Photo proof follows (all photos in this section courtesy of Olaf Karthaus and Dave Aldwinckle, taken April 9, 2000):
Yuransen is a big place (the biggest in Wakkanai proper), and it opened on January 23, 1997 with segregated facilities, according to Mr Ohshima. Here is a picture of the front, showing a sign for all three facilities:
Understandibly this is a little hard to see, so let me guide you. The Blue Arrow points to the words "Kazoku Buro Iriguchi", or "Family Bath Entrance". The Yellow Arrow points to "Koushuu Yokujou Iriguchi", or "Public Bath Entrance". The Red Arrows point to the signs, at both the Family and Public Bath entranceways (in English and more detailed Russian only, not Japanese), which say "Sauna For Foreign Guests", with a separate entranceway around the corner. Here is a closeup of the signs by the Public Bath entrance in front for a better view:
Again, note the price difference. 360 yen for Japanese entering the front door, but for those deemed "foreign", their designated side door has a sign saying:
Yes, that's 2500 yen, over six times as much. Of course, it does say underneath (sorry it is so hard to read), "Including the fee for renting a bath towel, a bathrobe, and a pair of bathing trunks", which might sound closer to value for money. But foreigners don't get the choice--many certainly don't need to "rent" bathing trunks. Plaintiff Arudou Debito/Dave Aldwinckle went inside the Gaijin Baths with Mr Ohshima on April 9, 2000, and attests that the tubs and sauna are significantly smaller than the Japanese-only side (this was also confirmed by the manager, Mr Ohshima).
(２００１ 年４月和英ルポはこちらです。2001 Eyewitness report in English and Japanese here.）
the definition of "foreignness" for these exclusionary onsen starts
puberty. This was
seen at Yuransen on July 30, 2000, 1pm,
when Hokkaido International School's basketball coach Adam Fraser
cycled from Teshio
to Wakkanai (a distance of 110 kms) accompanied by four of his male
students. One Japanese/American student was 14 years old and living in
years, another Japanese/American was 16 years old living in Japan five
American had lived in Japan twelve of his 16 years, and one South
African boy was
born in Japan and lived here all his life. All students spoke fluent
knew Japanese bathing customs from a very young age, yet all were
refused at Yuransen's
door and told to go the Gaijin Bath. The two Japanese-American students
mentioned their dual nationality and were let in, but the Caucasian
coach and his
two other Caucasian students were left standing outside until they
is no other onsen within 15 kms (i.e. a long bikeride) of Yuransen (NB:
bathing facilities at downtown hotel, but it is not an official public
the stranded three eventually got the sweat off their bodies by bathing
in the salty
This silliness must stop as it is thusly affecting our children, the ultimate innocents under these policies.
NEWS FLASH: International Herald Tribune (April 23, 2004), from New York Times (May 12, 2004) on discrimination in Wakkanai and Monbetsu, Japan: "Unwelcome Mat: Bars in a Japanese port keep Russians outside".
STATUS REPORT (August 2006): Public Bathhouse Yuransen went bankrupt in March 2006, maintaining its exclusionary rules all the way to the bitter end.
The front door bearing all the signs above is behind the pillar and boarded up. The "Gaijin Bath" segregated entranceway is along the wall to the right, between the boarded-up windows. So much for its claim that foreigners, if let in, would drive them out of business.
It's rival onsen,
"Doumu" (the northernmost onsen in Japan), is no doubt taking up the
slack. And it does not refuse foreigners entry.
Anybody hearing any lessons here? Ii kimi da.
It has a sign on the front door, in Russian, which we could not read because we are not Russian speakers (see Red Arrow). A Russian friend sent us a translation later. The sign reads: "They ask Russians no enter" (sic)
Karthaus and Aldwinckle entered Shidou Sports in
April 2000 and
asked about what the sign meant, and if we as foreigners were permitted
to be in
here. The staff said, "It means no Russians may enter," and then went
to indicate that we should not be in here. When we asked about our
friends in Wakkanai
who said they were excluded from this store, yet were not Russian and
the staff said that foreigners should be accompanied by Japanese who
will take responsibility
for them. Why? "Russians shoplift, throw cigarette butts on the
try on clothes and leave their body smell (taishuu)
on them, and generally
scare the Japanese customers." That may indeed be a problem, but
policy is also applied to all unescorted white foreigners.
STATUS REPORT: (As of April 2000) Shidou Sports took their sign down.
NEWS FLASH: (Feb 5, 2004) OLAF KARTHAUS AND ARUDOU DEBITO SUBMIT PETITION TO WAKKANAI CITY HALL CALLING FOR DRAFT ORDINANCES (jourei) FORBIDDING RACIAL DISCRIMINATION IN THEIR MUNICIPALITY (see text of petition and ordinance here).
IN RESPONSE, NEWSPAPER ARTICLES FROM OKHOTSK SHINBUN (Jan 10, 2004) AND HOKKAIDO SHINBUN (Jan 30, 2004) ANNOUNCE IMPENDING SUBMISSIONS, AND THE ABOVEMENTIONED MONBETSU DAI-SAN SECTOR ONSEN "Yukemuri Monbetsu Tokkari no Yu" BATHHOUSE'S INTENTION TO TAKE DOWN ITS SIGNS.
道新（１月３０日付）オホーツク版「ロシア人入浴どうぞ 『 お断り』撤去 受け入れ再開」へのリンク：
オホーツク新聞（１月１０日付）の一覧表「人種差別撤 廃条例 陳情へ」へのリンク：
In response to both
police-stoked fears of foreign hooliganism
and the profit motive (with the publisher of Sapporo's bilingual
XENE, offering translation services to xenophobes), "Members Only"
(Japanese are automatically "members", naturally--especially since the
signs are not even in Japanese) proliferated around Susukino and
during the 2002 World Cup.
SUSUKINO EXCLUSIONARY SIGN
(displayed in various bars, nightlife establishments, and even a ramen shop)
EXCLUSIONARY SIGN IN FRONT OF SAPPORO STATION
Sapporo Ekimae Doori, Kita 4 Nishi 4 PH (011) 219-4141
June 3, 2002, 8:30 PM
STATUS REPORT: (As of November 2002) The signs soon disappeared after complaints, some press coverage, and the end of the World Cup. Some "soaplands", however (as of January 26, 2004), still have them up--which means this "Members Only" policy has nothing to do with "hooligans". For causing replicable social damage by giving discriminators the tools to ply their trade, Xene issued the following apology:
On the signpostings in Susukino, Sapporo
On the 2002 World Cup and Japan's unfounded fears of hooliganism
LOCATION: Sunakku "Globe", Misawa-shi Chuo-chou 1-Chome 5-28, Miyabe Bldg 3F, ph 0176-52-2416.
Photo taken March 28, 2002.
Seven cheap hostess
bars which hire foreign hostesses kick out
any other foreigner (including naturalized Japanese citizens) which
doorstep. There is too much information for this site, so CLICK
ON THIS LINK
to go to a special reference
page in English and Japanese.
STATUS REPORT: (As of December 2003) Three of the seven stores still have their signs up, and have refused this (caucasian) website author on three separate occasions despite his displaying a Japanese passport. CLICK HERE FOR DECEMBER 5, 2003 UPDATE
STATUS REPORT (as of November 28, 2003): Rogues' Gallery Coordinator Arudou Debito convinced the proprietors to take town their sign. Here is a picture of that momentus event. FULL REPORT DATED DECEMBER 5, 2003, HERE.
(Photo taken November 28, 2003)
This is against the law, i.e. the Ryokan Management Law (Ryokan Gyouhou, Article 5, see above link in Japanese). As it says above: an establishment cannot turn away lodgers unless there is a health issue involving contagious disease, a clear and present endangerment of public morals, or because all rooms are full. It even has signs up to this effect:
"For the present, Foreigr [sic] use cannot be performed. Very sorry for this. HOTEL TSUBAKURO"
「大変申し訳ありません 当分の間 外国人の方の利用は出来ません。ビジネスホテル つばくろ」
(Photo Credit: Declan Murphy, July 21, 2003)
from the Rogues' Gallery site manager: I called them
on Feb 24, 2005 to confirm that yes, their signs are still up and the
policy is still
in place. "We refuse people who cannot speak Japanese." When I told
that this was not sufficient grounds for refusal, as per Hotel
Management Law, Article
5 (I even read it to them over the phone), the clerk begged off, said
is in place and that's that, and the manager is not in, etc.
This is a pretty egregious case, since for once there is a clear law against this. It's all a matter of enforcement. So, print up the law in Japanese from this link and show Article Five to the hotel management. If they still flaunt the law, try going to the cops, law in hand, and see what happens. Good luck.
Photo date unclear, but the Gallery monitor visited the premises in March 2005 and confirmed the sign's existence. It's a love hotel, and as such also subject to laws governing hotels. As for the meaning of the English, enjoy the puzzle. In Japanese, it warns guests not to bring in foreign lady touts (i.e. "waiting on the road"). I guess Japanese prostitutes are okay, then.
Tokyo Shinjuku-ku Shinjuku 2-chome
Photo credited to Vince Ting,
courtesy of Mainichi Daily News Website
"My Japan Photo Contest--May 22 to May 28" 2006
Mass-produced neighborhood signs for excluding all foreigners. Note how sophisticated the English language level of exclusionism has gotten.
These cellphone staps taken March 16, 2008 by Rogues' Gallery monitor Arudou Debito at the address above (look down the stairwell to see the sign just to the left of the black stand).
But there are many other businesses now displaying the same sign in Kabukichou. Ironic, given that Kabukichou has the highest concentration of businesses run and staffed by foreigners in Japan. How do they go to work? I guess they're not "guests". See what I mean about the increasing sophistication of the exclusionary language?
from the submitter of the photographs: "Last weekend,
I saw a sign on Aoyama Dori advertising an "estee" salon for women. The
sign and the salon are located next to the temporary Kinokuniya
What made the advertisement unique was that it explicitly stated in
the services provided by the salon are for "Japanese
Women Only" (attached
for your reference is a copy of the store's pamphlet advertising the
I found the advertising offensive and called the store owner to ask for
of the exclusionary statement. The owner explained that the salon would
services to foreigners, including Koreans living in Japan. I think that
you may find
it interesting that a store located in the center of Aoyama is openly
engaging in discriminatory advertising and practices."
NB from the Rogues' Gallery Manager: I called Princess Plumeria to confirm the reasons for exclusionism on Feb 24, 2005. The manager told me that yes, all "gaijin-sans" are refused because their facilities are "too small" (How big do they think feet can get?). And they want to avoid a language barrier should anyone feel unwell during the footbaths. When I asked about the Zainichis (Japan-born ethnicities, such as ethnic Koreans or Chinese), she said that they would be refused too. Even though Zainichis have no language barrier? That was where she said she was now too busy to talk...
(click on photos to see larger images)
(Photos taken February 2005)
What's even more ironic? That this is done in a Hawaiian motif. Hawaiians are one of the more mixed-race peoples in the world! Alas, Hawaiians are forbidden entry too, naturally. Aloha yourself.
PROGRESS REPORT (April
2004): The person refused at these places has sought redress at the
of Justice, Bureau of Human Rights, which apparently will inquire about
signs removed, but have stated quite clearly that they consider these
be a managerial decision, not an issue of human rights. Great sentiment
agency entrusted with protecting people from discrimination... The
is currently considering legal action.
The Japan Times released an article on the issue and discriminations in Koshigaya (March 25, 2004), entitled "DOWNSIDE OF BEING FOREIGN: Discrimination's blatant signs, not roots, easy target". The text can be seen here, and the original website link to the Japan Times site at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20040325b1.htm
Toda City (Saitama Prefecture)
Hostess Bar "Kurabu Sepia"
Saitama-ken Toda-shi Bijogi 8-2-5
Ph (048) 422-9333
(West side of the Omiya Bypass, Highway 17)
(Photo Courtesy Michael Cash, March 4, 2005)
Click on photo to see larger image.
LOCATION: Music Lounge Abend ("Aabendo"--a nightclub) Shizuoka ken, Hamamatsu Shi, Sunayama Cho 330-6, tel : 053 451 3361)
(Photos Taken 1998)
STATUS REPORT: (As
of May 2003) Signs are down, thanks to Ana Bortz winning her
lawsuit against Jewelry Store Seibidou in 1999.
More information on the Bortz Case here in Japanese, and a 1999 report on the situation in English here.
Kofu (Yamanashi Prefecture)
Isawa Kenko Land (Yamanashi-ken
Higashi Yatsushiro-gun Isawa-chou Matsumoto 868, ph 055-263-7111)
IKL is a large private-sector bath and hotel complex, the flagship business of a local chain of "super sentos" (information from back of IKL Assistant Manager Mr Onodera's business card):
You can find out more about IKL in English at http:// www.bornplaydie.com/japan/kofuguide/onsen/onsen.htm or in Japanese at http://www.kur-hotel.co.jp/ frameisa.htm
Neither site mentions the fact they bar entry to all foreigners who are illegal, or who do not speak Japanese.
(All photos taken June 7, 2004, courtesy of an accompanying Yamanashi Nichi Nichi Shinbun reporter.)
of this policy in fact violates the Foreign Registry Law
and the Ryokan Management Law (see
The particularly disappointing thing about this case is that it is a repeat of a foreigner exclusion campaign, due to panic about AIDS transmission from foreigner-tainted bathwater, which occurred around Kofu in 1992. Local public baths put up exclusionary signs, encouraging others in Nagano and Saitama to follow suit, until one lone local sento defied pressure from its Japanese clientele, got the facts about AIDS from the Kofu Department of Public Health, and stayed open to foreigners, turning back the tide--until bathhouses in Otaru took up the slack from 1993 to 2001. Full report with photos, newspaper articles, and legal documentation HERE.
and four of my friends were refused access to two
different clubs in Nagoya consectutively on Saturday night [Feb 12,
2005]. The first,
'Club Ozone' in Sakae did not have a sign, they just told us 'No Gaijin
Nights'. The second, 'Club Abime', had a sign and we took a picture...
I find this
particulary unfortunate due to the fact that this is the city that is
2005 World Expo [starting March 25, 2005, and running on until
September]. We spoke
to the manager of Abime and point out the large billboard across the
'Harmony Between Nations'. He didn't seem to care. We questioned the
bouncer at Club
Ozone and he claimed that there was an incident involving a foreigner a
prior. I mentioned the Expo and he claimed that it was another reason
not be allowing foreigners on Saturday nights. When asked how long this
continue, he said 'forever'... Publicity of this nature does not
reflect well in
the host city of an international event, paticularly an event poised at
'Harmony Between Nations'"--Ian Brown, Nagoya
City (Ishikawa Prefecture)
Dealer for Hokkoku Shinbun
(February 2008): After investigation by reporters from Kyodo
News, the Mainichi Shinbun, and a shuukanshi weekly, reporters on the
case told me that their editors said this was a non-story, and no article on this issue appeared
in any publication. The Rogues' Gallery
moderator's interpretation of this outcome is that newspapers are not
happy to investigate other newspapers when there are financial
interests involved. This is how uncritical our media gets.
Anyway, as newspapers themselves advise, avoid
subscription outlets that are not official newspaper sales offices.
COMMENT FROM THE SUBMITTER: "This
Sunday (December 10th, 2006) I went to an internet café
relatively close to where I live, since I have no access to the
internet during Sundays and I had an urgent mail to send. I
translate Japanese children's books into Swedish in my spare time, and
I had a deadline. Lo and behold, a true "foreigners only" at
desk. I was there with a japanese friend, so they said it
be OK for me to enter anyway: they had had some problem with
foreigner who didn't speak Japanese two months ago, and felt that the
sign was in good order to avoid further problems.
a social anthropologist, I chose not to make a fuss over it in their
face and instead came back with at tape recorder and actually got an
interview with some middle-management boss about the reason for the
rule, the café's view on it and his personal (at least he
so) view. Surprisingly enough he even managed to come up with the "I
realize that I would feel bad if I saw a 'no japanese' sign abroad"
argument himself, but whether or not he was just being polite or not, I
about it with a friend, I got the link to your homepage. It was quite a
shock for me to see such a sign for the first time, and it made me feel
much worse that I would have guessed."
DECEMBER 23, 2006:
The Internet cafe manager realized that what they were doing was not very nice, and took the sign down shortly after Jonas reported the situation. They have since instituted an ID membership system for all customers regardless of nationality (which is what they should have been doing all along, of course). More information and updates on my blog at http://www.debito.org/index.php/?p=117. Anyway, the sign is down and the rules are changed. Good.
November 28, 2005)
"Hello Debito-san, I thought you might appreciate pictures of a ryokan I stayed at on the night of Saturday, November 26, 2005. The establishment in question is called "Yamazaki Ryokan"( http://www.ryokan-yamazaki.co.jp/index.html ), and is located in north-west Kyoto, on the number 8 bus line, just south of the Takahana-cho bus stop.
"Upon arrival, I noticed two doors near the entrance, one marked for Japanese and the other for Foreigners. Upon inspection, I saw that it was a segregated bathing area. This was not a problem for me and my girlfriend, since we had a bath in our room. It did, however, taint my image of the elderly woman who seemed to run the place, who otherwise provided us with reasonable service. Interestingly, this ryokan is a member of the "Japanese Inn Group Kyoto". I wonder if they endorse this type of segregation.
"In my three and half years of living in Japan, this was my first time to see such a sign. I was particularly surprised to see it in Kyoto, a major city which tourists visit, and home to many non-ethnic Japanese. While this incident did not diminish my esteem for Kyoto as a wonderful, culturally rich place to visit, it certainly made me qustion the motives of the ryokan owners.
"Find attached two pictures of said ryokan. The first is of the bathhouse doors showing the attached signs, and the second includes one of the doors and the ryokan's signboard. Keep up the good fight, David Woods, Mie-Ken, Japan."
(Click on photos to see larger image)
(Arudou Debito having his Japanese passport inspected by Santa Monica manager, who refused to give his name, shortly before being refused entry. Monday, July 12, 2004, 1:30 AM)
from website monitor Arudou Debito: This is not signposted
discrimination per se, but as we have photos of us on the premises, and
we can attest
with photo evidence and as primary sources that this exclusion
happened, I have included
this case on the Rogues' Gallery.)
STATUS REPORT: Confirmed by Chad Edwards in December 2004, Santa Monica no longer refuses foreign customers. Well, good. After all that.
FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHER (A
Southeast Asian naturalized Japanese citizen. Japanese original,
translated by Arudou Debito):
"Long time no see. Yesterday I had a speech in Hiroshima on March 8, 2007, but I arrived in Hiroshima the night before . I met with a guy friend (Japanese by birth), and went for dinner, then a night out on the town. The place he introduced me to would have Indonesian hostesses, and he asked me if that would be okay. Yes. We went inside SAMA SAMA and were shown to a table by the management.
soon as we had sat down, one of the male staff came up to us and said,
'Excuse me, Gaijin are not allowed in here.' I just happened
have my passport on me and explained that I am in fact a Japanese.
However, he replied, 'You look foreign, so kindly leave.'
After he kicked me out, he pointed to the sign outside with
exclusionary policy. When I tried to take a picture, the
got in the way, so they're a little shaky. Enclosed.
should I do now?" [NB:
I recommended a lawyer. Probably more news to come.]
BAR SUMATRA TIGER
Hiroshima-shi, Naka-ku, Yagenbori 7-9. Sanwa Bld 2F
Storefront photo: http://flickr.com/photos/39096278@N00/391050530/in/photostream/
FROM THE SUBMITTER (edited):
"I don't know if this is a new one for your wall, but I
find any mention of it online. First, some background:
"Hiroshima has seen its share of suspicious behavior from the police in recent months; dance clubs were shut down in violation of a never-enforced dancing permit. Almost all clubs in Hiroshima allow dancing, but only one club holds such a permit.
these raids were conducted, "gaijin bars" and clubs were a particular
target. The police often sorted the club patrons into three
groups: Japanese, military, and foreigner. The Japanese were
"released" immediately, the others often required to stay for
"Being so close to Hiroshima, US military soldiers often come into the city on Fridays and Saturdays to the less reputable parts of town. I will be the first to admit I find their presence a little intimidating at times: - they don't speak Japanese or bother to learn the customs - often they only come to have one-night stands with whatever Japanese girls they can find - many are agressive when drunk - a foreigner was assaulted last night by a member of the military while talking on his keitai to his mother (just standing on the side of the street).
"El Barco, an advertised "international bar", was probably most affected by these raids. Its clientele consisting mostly of eastern European girls and US military forces, it was an easily identifiable target for the koban in these raids. I will be the first to admit I find this area a little seedy, and the military personnel a little scary at times.
don't know when it was posted, but I discovered this sign (picture
attached) on a club, Sumatra Tiger, adjacent to El Barco. Wouldn't such
a sign demand that all foreigners (at least, "American-looking"
foreigners) present their gaijin cards as proof that they are civilians
working in Japan, and not affiliated with the US military?
course, I assume no private club has the right to make such a demand,
only the koban or government officials."
COMMENT FROM GALLERY MODERATOR:
I rather agree that a bar is not the best place to face drunk
young military types, and can understand a certain degree of
trepidation both from bar owner and client. However, this is
place which is restricting entry to non-Japanese, which falls under the
purview of the Rogues' Gallery. It is also important, as the
submitter says, to see how this policy is actually enforced--and if all
"foreigners" will be treated as "military" on appearance alone.
Anyone want to drop by this place and find out?--Arudou Debito
On November 3,
2006, during the
JALT National Conference at Kitakyushu, a JALT member was refused entry
to the above restaurant. Reason given was that the
was full, even though to the refusee it visibly had open tables.
The person who was refused informed Rogues' Gallery moderator
Arudou Debito at the conference after one of his
and volunteer Jessica tracked down the site.
On November 4,
at around 9PM,
Arudou Debito, Jessica, and four other friends (including Ivan Hall,
author of CARTELS OF THE MIND) went to the restauant in question.
Arudou first went in alone and the manager, a Mr Matsubara
Tatsuya, indeed tried to refuse him entry by claiming the restaurant
was full. A quick walk around the restaurant confirmed that
establishment, with at least eight large tables plus counter space, was
in fact almost completely empty. When it was clear that
and Matsubara could communicate in Japanese, Matsubara then switched
tacks and offered him counter space. Arudou then brought in
friends and confirmed that they could have a table.
Arudou and friends then confirmed (after being seated and ordering drinks) that a) Matsubara did refuse foreigners entry, b) because he cannot communicate in English--he finds it his "nemesis" (nigate), c) and because he finds foreigners frightening (kowai). When asked if he had ever had any bad experiences or altercations with non-Japanese customers, Matsubara said no. He just (for reasons never made very clear) did not want to have to deal with them. When Arudou and friends softly and calmly pointed out that a) non-Japanese are customers too, with money, not to mention language abilities (or at least forefingers to point to items on the menu), b) refusing them entry hurts their feelings, as it did the person refused the previous evening,c) that welcoming customers was part of the job description of his line of work (kyaku shoubai), he apologized and said he would try harder not to refuse non-Japanese customers in future. The irony of the situation was that at the end of our drinks, one of the waiters who attended us (a student at the local technical college) talked to us in very good English. Why couldn't Matsubara just have passed any customer with whom he was unable to communicate on to his staff?
We look forward to future reports from readers of this website who might wish to investigate this restaurant in future to see if Matsubara keeps his promise.
from website monitor Arudou Debito: This
is not signposted
discrimination per se, but Rogues' Gallery monitor Arudou Debito
personally confirmed the exclusionism (and was witnessed by third
parties), I have included
this case on the Rogues' Gallery.)
(Photos taken May 13, 2006, courtesy Jeff Norman)
ran into the manager of this store and asked him about this policy...
He stated that it wasn't discrimination just that no one was able to
speak English there. When I asked him if there were a large number of
foreign pool players, he said no and that there had never been a
problem with any foreign patrons. He went on to add that he had spoken
with an American relative by marriage and that relative had suggested
to him that he do this to avoid any trouble. He claimed that he would
consider my opinion on the matter. The amazing thing here is that there
really doesn't appear to be any need for this sign or discriminatory
policy at all, but yet it exists. Lastly, the question that is always
left in my mind is how can a 'Japanese Only' sign not be considered
Photos of these signs were taken by well-meaning people, some with hazy memories of time and place, or difficulty in reconfirming. I still include them in the Rogues' Gallery to show that the problem is more widespread than many people (some of whom claim that this discrimination is a non-issue, because these are isolated incidents or the sample size is too small) might think. How bad do things have to get, how many places have to put signs up and refuse customers by race and appearance alone, before people admit there is a problem of racial discrimination in modern Japan?
TSUKIJI SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
Address and phone number unknown (was not able to check for myself from Sapporo), photo taken February 2008, courtesy CG. Sign describes complicated rules, and indicates that even Japanese who cannot follow them will be refused entry. However, the assumption still remains that non-Japanese will be unable to understand the rules of the establishment, so it blanket refuses them.
Full report here.
UPDATE: Exclusionary pign is now down as of February 2008, thanks to others contacting the restaurant and encouraging the management to reconsider.
Above: Hotel sign, location unclear (probably Tokyo)
Sign refuses all foreigners, drunks, and organized crime members--in that order. Pity that being drunk or a hitman are a matter of personal volition.
In any case, keep in mind that refusals at hotels in Japan are violations of Article 5 the Hotel Management Law (ryokan gyouhou), which clearly states that people can only be refused on the grounds of all rooms being full, a clear threat of contagious disease, or a threat to "public morals" (fuuki). Visa status or language ability are not adequate grounds. Thus refusing people accommodation (unlike refusing them, say, a bath or a meal) only because they are foreign is clearly illegal in Japan. Download the letter of the law in Japanese here and present it at any exclusionary hotel in Japan. If even then they flout the law, try going to the police if you like, law in hand, and see what happens. Good luck.
Tokyo Ikebukuro (Toshima-ku Ikebukuro 1-3).
The website monitor tracked down the organization listed in subtext as sponsoring this sign, the Tokyo Bouhan Kenzen Kyouryoku Kai (Tokyo Crime Prevention and Health Association), because it sounds like a government organization (and the Japanese government had better not be using taxpayer money on something like this!). After a Google search, calls to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the National Police Agency, and the organization itself revealed that it is a private organization without public funding.
When asked to take the signs they sponsored down, the group refused, claiming "Gaijin don't obey our rules. They cause trouble."
This photo has been relegated to the "Miscellaneous" section because it was found in front of a business not quite catering to the general public, something we generally don't like to touch because it blurs the issue. Nevertheless, it is still an exclusionary sign, displayed in violation of international treaty, which will, as history has shown, encourage copycatting in other, more everyday industries if left unchallenged.
(Photo taken April 30, 2006, courtesy of Mr Perkins)
Above: Sign in unconfirmed place, allegedly a bar in Hiroshima.
Until the Rogues' Gallery monitor can confirm the exact location (bar's name and address) of this sign, it will remain in the "Miscellaneous" section, alas.
(Photo taken March 23, 2006, courtesy of KD)
OPEN-DOOR POLICIES FOR NON-JAPANESE CUSTOMERS
Yes, there are places out there which publicly recognize that refusing customers due to the color of skin or passport is not cricket, and they should be known about here to provide balance. The Nago Bar and Restaurant Association in Nago, Okinawa, is bucking the trend with open-door signs (since Okinawan refusals of American soldiers--therefore all foreigners--are Legion). Well and good. May these businesses prosper.
Nago (Okinawa Prefecture)
(click on picture above for enlarged image)
Photos taken October 2003. The business displaying it:
The "77 Cafe Bar" has the open-door policy sign in the top left-hand corner of the front door. Bravo!
Thanks very much! Wishing you great prosperity.
internationally-minded some of your neighbors are!
Get yourself a
GENUINE "JAPANESE ONLY" T-SHIRT
taken from a genuine exclusionary business sign!
|NOTE: This offer is completely independent of my book "JAPANESE ONLY" (Akashi Shoten 2006), but it is a good way to raise awareness of the issue. Most people would rather pretend these signs don't exist. Too bad. They do. Keep the issue alive in the public eye in the best of satirical traditions by wearing your heart on your sleeve, and the sign on your chest!|
reviews and ordering details at http://www.debito.org/ japaneseonly.html)
Debito and HIGUCHI Akira, Akashi Shoten Inc, English and furigana Japanese,
Table of Contents, reviews, ordering procedures, and book excerpt here.
ISBN 978-4-7503-2741-9, 372 pages, price 2300 yen plus tax
TWO OF SEVERAL REVIEWS (more at link immediately above):