OCT 31, 2000



(sent to the world Nov 28, 2000)

BACKGROUND: At 5:45 pm on October 31, 2000, newly-naturalized Japanese citizen Arudou Debito (ne Dave Aldwinckle) visited Yunohana Onsen (Temiya, Otaru City, Hokkaido, Japan), a bathhouse which since its opening has expressly (viz signs at the front door) reserved entry for "Japanese Only", barring all foreigners regardless of residency or acculturation. Accompanying Debito on this day were two friends, A-san (a 50-something female native Japanese Otaru resident) and B-San (a 40-something male native Japanese Otaru resident), as primary witnesses. Also present, to record the event, was a portable cassette tape recorder.

Debito, despite presenting proof of Japanese citizenship and receiving acknowledgement of the same from the Yunohana staff member in charge, was denied entry on the basis of his foreign appearance. In the staff member's words, inter alia:

"I saw your proof and I acknowledge it. But when our other customers are here, meaning our other Japanese customers who hate [foreigners], if 'hate' is the appropriate word. But anyway if the numbers of our customers were to go down, we'd be in a tight situation, now, wouldn't we." (Gaiken to iu ka, maa, watashi wa sou yatte misete moratte wakarimasu kedomo. De mo maa, hoka no okyakusan wa hairareteiru toki ni, hoka no nihonjin no okyakusama ga kiratte, maa, kiratte ite to iu ka ne, maa, hoka no okyakusan wa heru tte iu koto wa ne, komaru to iu katachi nan desu yo ne.)

Although this is not the best of sound bites, in the course of the discussion it came out that letting Debito in might discourage their other Japanese customers from ever patronizing them again.

See for yourself. What follows is a full transcript of the dialog between the entering party and the Yunohana staff. (In English and Romanized Japanese--transcription courtesy of Sugawara Ayako and Arudou Debito/Dave Aldwinckle, translations by the latter):

OCT 31, 2000. 5:45 PM

A-SAN: Uh, it's six pm, no, it's 5:30 pm. Okay, Debito, let's go. Debito? [Yeah?] Should I be calling you Debito-san in Japanese? [Okay] Here we are at Yunohana onsen. It's my first time going in here. [Oh really?] It's really open until one in the morning? (Aa, roku-ji, aa, go-ji yonjuu gofun, hai, debito, ikimashou. Aa, debito. [hai] Debito-san, nihongo de. [hai] Yunohana desu ne. Watashi, koko ni hairu no wa hajimete nan da yo. [a honto?] Shinya ichi-ji made na wake?)

DEBITO: That's right. And it's my first time going in here too. (laughs) (Sou desu yo. Boku mo hajimete desu yo.) (warai)

A-SAN: (unintelligible)

B-SAN: (unintelligible) ...you've never even gone in the genkan lobby? (..., genkan mo haitta koto mo nakatta?)

DEBITO: Well, I've gone into the genkan lobby before, but of course I've never used the place. (Maa, genkan o haitta koto ga aru n desu kedo, de mo mochiron riyou shita koto nai n desu yo.)

A-SAN: What is this "Each Space"? (Kaku supeisu tte nan na no?)

DEBITO: Dunno. Ask inside. (Wakannai. Kiite mite.)


DEBITO: [to anonymous staff member in lobby] Good evening. (konbanwa)


DEBITO: [pointing out the entry ticket machines to A-san and B-san] This is where you buy your entry ticket. (Untou ne, otona no riyouken wa koko desu yo ne.)

BOY-SAN IN LOBBY: [to A-san and B-san] Sorry, but we refuse service to all foreigners. (Sumimasen ga, gaijin [sic] no kata no goriyou wa okotowari shiteiru n desu yo).

DEBITO: I'm not a foreigner. I'm a Japanese. (Gaikokujin ja arimasen. Nihonjin desu. [A-san and B-san both add their affirmations that Debito is a Japanese in largely unintelligible dialog. Confirmations all around ensue from the Boy-san.] That's right. I'm a Japanese. (Sou desu. Nihonjin desu.)

[Sounds of the trio paying their money into the ticket machine while the Boy-san in the lobby first quickly consults with the more senior Anonymous Staff Member, then asks A-san and B-san to wait.]

[The two or so minutes of waiting in the lobby by the agari kamachi for the manager on duty to come forward are hereby deleted.]

DEBITO: [puts ticket on the counter as the manager arrives] Evenin'. Right then, here's my ticket. (Oban deshita. Hai. Sore dewa, yoroshiku onegai shimasu.)

MANAGER MR II YOSHIYUKI: Uh, I'm sorry to have to say this, well, I understand that you've naturalized. But the fact is that our policy is to refuse service to all foreigners. (Deee, taihen moushiwake nai n desu kedomo ne. Kika sareteiru no wa wakaru n desu kedo. Uchi to shite wa gaikokujin o ichiou okotowari shiteiru to iu katachi ni naru n desu yo.)

DEBITO: I'm not a foreigner. I'm a Japanese. (Watashi wa gaikokujin ja arimasen. Nihonjin desu.)

II-SAN: I understand that you've naturalized. Still, other foreigners have come here and we've refused service to all of them. (Ma, kika shiteiru no wa wakaru n desu kedo. De, maa, hoka no gaikokujin no koto mo aru no de, minna okotowari shiteiru n desu yo.)

DEBITO: I'm not a foreigner. I am a Japanese. I have Japanese citizenship. That means I'm not a foreigner. (Boku wa gaikokujin ja arimasen. Nihonjin desu. Nihon no kokuseki o motte iru n desu. Sore de boku wa gaikokujin ja arimasen yo ne.)

II-SAN: I understand that, but... (Sore wa wakaru n desu kedo ne.)

[A-san to B-san now start talking in the background to indicate surprise that Debito has been refused.]

II-SAN: What I'm trying to say is that we...(Maa, desu kara, you suru ni, wareware...) (something unintelligible about "we Japanese")

DEBITO: ... when you say "we", I also am part of that "we". I'll show you proof. [Brings out driver licence.] Look. My name is Sugawara ArudouDebito. [II-SAN: I understand that.] So you've seen that I am a Japanese. Um... (looks at manager's nametag) Mr Ii, how do you read the first name? [II-SAN: Yoshiyuki] Yasuyuki-san, right. [II-SAN: Right.] Are you the general manager of Yunohana? (..."ware" tte, watashi mo "ware" ni mo hairimasu yo. Shoumei dashimasu. Hora, watashi no namae wa "Sugawara, ArudouDebito" desu.) [II-SAN: Wakarimasu.] Watashi no menkyosho o omie ni natte imasu ne. Etou.. (looks at manager's nametag). Ii, etou, nan to iu n datdake? [II-SAN: Yasuyuki] Yoshiyuki-san desu ne. [hai] Yunohana no shihainin desu ka.)

II-SAN: No, I'm not the general manager, but I'm a section chief. [DEBITO: A section chief, right.] Well, in the evening I'm acting as the person in charge here. (Ie, shihainin de wa nai n desu kedo, kachou de yatte orimasu kedo. [DEBITO: Kachou-san desu ne.] Maa, ima watashi o yoru no sekininsha to shite yatte imasu no de.

(something unintelligible between B-san and Ii-san)

DEBITO: In sum, Mr Ii , even though you have seen my proof that I am a Japanese, does this mean that you are refusing me entry even though you are acknowledging that I am a Japanese? (To iu koto de, watashi wa mou, ano maa, Ii-san wa mou watashi wa nihonhin to iu you na shoumei o mita ue ni, watashi wa nihonjin ja nai to iu koto o mitomete kyohi shiteiru to iu koto nan desu ka.)

II-SAN: As far as we go, uh, we understand what's going on, and we are not refusing you on the basis of that. (Watashi tachi to iu ka desu ne... anou, wakaru n desu kedo, sore wa ne, maa, kotowaru to iu are wa nai n desu keredomo...)

DEBITO: So does this mean that the problem is one of race? (To iu koto de, mondai wa jinshu, jinshu to iu mondai nan desu ka.)

II-SAN: There are lots of things involved here, but, uh, there is some understanding of that. You see, the problem is our customers. (Iro iro, maa, iro iro no... sou iu no o wakatte iru to omou n desu kedo. You suru ni, maa, okyakusan to iu mondai nan desu yo ne.)

DEBITO: What do you mean by your customers being the problem? (Okyakusan to iu mondai wa dou iu koto desu ka.)

II-SAN: Well, uh, how do I put this, in addition, there's this thing about the Russians... (Maa, nan to iu, sore ni, maa, Roshia-jin (unintelligible))

A-SAN: But he's naturalized. This is a big problem. (Datte, kika shiteiru n da mon. Komatta mon da naa.)

DEBITO: But I'm not a foreigner. Even then, does this mean that you cannot give me service? Is it not the case that race is the problem here? (Gaikokujin ja arimsen desu kedo ne. Sore de mo yahari ootai dekinai to iu koto nan desu ka. Jinshu to iu mondai nan desu ka, yappari?)

II-SAN: That's not it, but... (To iu koto ja nai n desu kedo ne.)

A-SAN: Race is the problem here. (Jinshu nan da yo ne.)

DEBITO: If that's not the case, then shouldn't I be allowed to come in? I'm not a foreigner.
(Sore dattara watashi wa haireru n ja nai desu ka. Gaikokujin ja arimasen keredomo.)

A-SAN: It's a matter of physical appearance. (Gaiken jan.)

II-SAN: All right then, um, if there are no problems with bathing manners... (Jaa, sou shimashitara ne, [to A-San and B-san], anou, betsu ni nyuuyoku manaa tte iu ka (unintelligible))

A-SAN: Of course he knows about them. (Mou, shitteimasu, mochiron, uun.)

B-SAN: We've known him from a long time ago and we'll be his guarantors. (Sore wa watashitachi ga moto kara no yuujin ga hoshou shimasu yo.)

DEBITO: Uh, yeah, but, that's not the solution here. (Maa. De mo, shikata ga nai ja nai n desu ka.)

B-SAN: Also, how about it, Debito. Is entry impossible today no matter what? Or else, like, for example, by Mr Ii's leave, and setting aside whether or not you'd be able to enter later on properly... or would you rather we take you out somewhere else? (De ato to, Debito, dou desu? Ano, dou shite mo yappari kono ba de (unintelligible) muri desu ka? Soretomo, tatoeba, ne, Ii-san no handan de, ima, ne, nochihodo seishiki no outai to betsu ni shite ne, kyou, maa, kyou wa, ma, ja, ma, tatoeba, watashitachi ga hoka de gochisou suru to ka ne.)

DEBITO: That's nice of you to offer, but look, it seems I haven't been acknowledged as a Japanese. Is that the case, Ii-san? (Maa, soko made ne, ii n desu kedo, watashi wa nihonjin to shite mitomete itadaiteinai rashii n desu yo de, jaa. [to Ii-san] To iu koto desu ka.)

II-SAN: (demurrer)

A-SAN: Unbelievable. Anyway, this means that he can't get his money back, right? (Iyaa, sou shitara, are, okane o henkyaku, kaeshite morau tte iu koto ga dekinai n da yo ne.)

II-SAN: No, we can make refunds. (Iya, sou dekimasu kedo.)

DEBITO: So that means I was refused entry. Ii-san's decision. (Kyakka sareta to iu koto desu ne, Ii-san no okangae de.)

II-SAN: In addition, if [he and others like him] were to come by in future, we will have to keep refusing them. (Hoka no desu ne. You suru ni, moshi mo kore kara korareta baai ni desu ne, kondo ja mou kotowarenaku naru n desu yo ne.)

A-SAN: Well, you could inform [customers] that he's a Japanese. (Nihonjin da to ieba ii n deshou. Nihonjin nan desu yo tte.)

DEBITO: I showed you proof. Regular Japanese wouldn't have had to do that. (Boku wa shoumei o dashimashita keredomo. Futsuu no nihonjin wa shoumei o dasanakute mo ii to iu koto nan desu kedo ne.)

II-SAN: (demurrer)

DEBITO: So by my outward appearance, I am refused entry. (Gaiken de okotowari to iu koto desu ne.)

II-SAN: Outward appearance, uh, well. I saw your proof and I acknowledge it. But when our other customers are here, meaning our other Japanese customers who hate [foreigners]... if "hate" is the appropriate word. But anyway if the numbers of our customers were to go down, we'd be in a tight situation, now, wouldn't we. (Gaiken to iu ka, maa, watashi wa sou yatte misete moratte wakarimasu kedomo. De mo maa, hoka no okyakusan wa hairareteiru toki ni, hoka no nihonjin no okyakusama ga kiratte, maa, kiratte ite to iu ka ne, maa, hoka no okyakusan wa heru tte iu koto wa ne, komaru to iu katachi nan desu yo ne.)

A-SAN: I doubt that would happen. The customer base has never gone down before [due to foreigners]. Hey, you've never let them in. (Heru to iu no wa nee. Iyaa. Ima made hetta koto nai yo ne. Datte, ireta koto nai n da mon.)

II-SAN: No, we've never let them in. Actually, we've had a few here and there come by accompanied by Japanese. (Iretenai desu. Maa, kou itta katachi de nihonjin no kata to issho ni korarete imasu kedomo.)

A-SAN: But you've never let them in before, right? If so, you can't claim the numbers will go down due to foreigners coming in, et cetera et cetera. (Datte, gaikokujin haitte inai wake deshou? Soushitara okyakusan heru, heru to iu no wa zenzen kankei nai no, gaikokujin unnun to.)

II-SAN: Well, yeah, but there are places which let in foreigners. (To iu ka, maa, iro iro (unintelligible) ireteiru tokoro ga arimasu kedomo.)

A-SAN: Sure. Panorama Onsen is one. I was there with Debito. (Panorama [Onsen] mo sou. Issho ni haitta.)

II-SAN: Yes, and after letting them in I've heard that those places have lost 30 percent of their business. (Ireteimasu kedo, (unintelligible) yori mo san-wari hette iru to iu katachi de kiiteimasu keredomo.)

A-SAN: That's unrelated. That's a matter of how they've been running their business. Debito, what do you want to do about this? (Ie ie, sore wa kankei nai wa. Sore wa eigyou no shikata. Dou suru, Debito?)

DEBITO: Hang on a minute. [Conferring with A-San and B-san] So that's basically all that needs to be said about that, right? (Chotto chotto. To iu koto de, sono, maa, sono hanashi wa ne, mou ii sho. (unintelligible))

B-SAN: (Lots of dialog unintelligible) ...Debito, this is your decision. (...Debito no handan da.)

A-SAN: Yes, and it's a pity after coming all this way. Hang on a minute. Here's my pay stub. (Sekkaku kita kara ne. Chotto matte. Watashi wa kore desu [hands over entry ticket].)

DEBITO: Okay, this is my decision. Well, the manager has seen the proof I presented, which a regular Japanese would not have to have shown. Even then, it resulted in my being refused entry. This is a matter of physical appearance, now, isn't it, Ii-san? Ii-san personally says that this is not so, but the fact is that if I am let in, afterwards the customers are going to have problems bathing with a gaijin and will stop coming, right? (Handan wa ne. Yahari shihainin wa watashi mou shoumei o dashimashita keredomo, sore wa futsuu no nihonjin dattara desu ne, sono shoumei o dasu hitsuyou ga nai no ni. Anou...sore de yappari, sore de mo okotowari to iu koto ni naru to iu koto nan desu keredomo. Anou, gaiken to iu koto wa, Oi-san... Ii-san, gomen nasai, Ii-san wa desu ne, jibun kojin to shite wa, gaiken tte iu koto ja nai desu keredomo, kono ato okyakusan ga, maa, gaijin mo haitteiru to iu koto nan desu no de, chotto komarimasu yo to iu koto nan desu kara. Moshikashite sono okyakusan konaku natte shimau to iu nan desu yo ne.)

II-SAN: Well, I wouldn't say it's all a matter of one person being let in having all this impact. But if this does start happening, in future, foreigners are going to come and [make trouble all over again: nuance]. (Maa, hitori ga iru kara to iu wake de wa nai n deshou kedomo. Sou naru to mata, gaijin [sic] no kata ga mata korarete sareru to ne.)

A-SAN: But this is why you ought to tell customers that this person is a Japanese national. (De mo, sore wa yokujou, are, koko no taiou de mo ii ya, kare wa nihon kokuseki, nihonjin nan desu yo to itte kudasareba to iu tokoro. Sore wa...)

II-SAN: I understand that. Well, if those customers were to come up and say something to us about it, we could do something like that. (Sore wa wakarimasu yo. Maa, sono okyakusan ga, kotchi ni yutte kurereba are desu kedomo.)

DEBITO: [Misunderstanding] I did come up and tell you. (Iimashita yo.)

II-SAN: We're talking about telling our customers from now on. We can explain his status. But most customers aren't going to come up and say anything, are they? (Ee, anou, kondo no okyakusan. Sore wa setsumei dekimasu kedomo. Da kedomo, taitei no okyakusan wa sonna koto o iwanai yo, ne.)

DEBITO: The bottom line is that you are refusing me.
(To iu koto de, okotowari desu ne.)

II-SAN: Uh-huh. (Uun.)

DEBITO: Well, how about that. (Sore wa sore wa ne.)

A-SAN: What do you want to do, Debito? (Dou suru, Debito?)

DEBITO: What do I want to do? Nothing I can do. (Dou suru to iu koto wa, shikata ga nai n desu yo ne.)

[Segment with people putting on their shoes again skipped]

DEBITO: (unintelligible) You are giving me lots of apologies, but the fact is that this is a matter of human rights. I am a Japanese, yet the Japanese Only policies are being applied to me. You took my money but you cannot take me like any other Japanese. That's too strict. Or rather I should say it pains my heart. (...Moushiwake nai to iu koto wa, kore wa jinken mondai ja nai n desu ka. Nihonjin na no ni, Japanese Only to iu koto nan desu keredomo. Yahari, watashi no okane o toriatsukatte, nihonjin to onaji you ni nihonjin na no ni toriatsukau koto ga dekinai to iu koto, chotto, katakurushii to iu koto. Kokoro kurushii to iu kotoba ja nai n darou ka ne.)

II-SAN: The problem is that we can see you are foreign. (Mite mo wakarimasu kedo. )

A-SAN: Okay, well, that's all right then for a Chinese, right? They look similar to a Japanese, and they can sneak in without your knowing it. (Jaa, Chuugokujin wa ii n da yo ne, sou shitara. Nihonjin ni mo niteiru n da shi, haitte minai to wakaranai n da yo nee.)

II-SAN: Acknowledged. In that case, if we don't talk to them, there's no way we would know otherwise. (Sou desu ne. Da kara, sokora hen wa, kochira mo shabete minai to wakaranai to iu katachi ni naru.)

DEBITO: Still, I showed you my proof. (De mo, ima de mo shoumei shimashita no de. Sorezore...)

II-SAN: I understand and acknowledge that. (Sore wa wakarimasu kedo.)

DEBITO: And what are we supposed to do? Are we supposed to stamp on our foreheads "I'm a Japanese"? How are we supposed to show that we are Japanese? Look, I can't take off my face. I am a White person, but I am also a Japanese. I wonder if your customers are all that unable to understand that. I don't know for sure, but even though nobody has said that they are going to stop coming if you let me in, based upon your anticipation of such you are refusing me entry. That makes it a problem of human rights, right? (Sore de, dou sureba ii desu ka. Wareware, hitai ni sutanpu o oshite, "Nihonjin desu" to iu koto sureba ii desu ka. Dou yatte chanto ne, Nihonjin de aru to iu koto o? Boku wa ne, kao o nukidasu koto ga dekinai n desu yo. Boku wa hakujin desu keredomo, Nihonjin desu. Sou iu koto o mitomerarenai okyakusan ga iru ka ne. Wakarimasen keredomo. Sono hito wa betsu ni sou iu koto o yuttenai no ni, watashi wa sono yosou de okotowaru koto nan desu keredomo. Sore wa yahari jinken mondai ni naru n ja nai desu ka.)

II-SAN: (demurrer)

DEBITO: Okay, gotcha. Please give me my money back. (Hai, wakarimashita. To iu koto de, okane douzo.)

[Intermittent segments skipped about getting our money back, not forgetting Debito's towel, getting Ii-san to divide the reimbursed entrance fees into the original 3-person amounts, and ultiimately receiving reimbursement in total.]

A-SAN: This is most disappointing. Why would they do this to a Japanese? (Gakkari da yo nee. Nan de Nihonjin na no ni nee?)

DEBITO: Nail on the head. It's amazing. I can't believe that even if I am naturalized I can't go in. (Desu yo ne. Fushigi nan desu yo ne. Kika shite mo haeranai to iu koto wa fushigi nan desu yo ne.)

A-SAN: You're in a quandary, huh. (Debito, komatta ne.)

DEBITO: You bet. No matter how unforeign I become I still get the gaijin treatment. (Hontou ni komarimashita ne. Ikura de gaikokujin ja naku natte mo gaijin atsukai ni naru yo ne.)

A-SAN: Even though you became a Japanese. (Nihonjin ni natta no ni nee.)

DEBITO: Yep. We too have the right to vote, even to run for office. (Sou desu ne.... Wareware mo desu ne, senkyoken mo aru shi, shutsuba mo dekiru no ni.)

A-SAN: Make sure you tell your general manager about this. Tell him, Arudou-san.
(Shihainin no hito ni tsutaette oite moratte ne. Hai, Arudou-san.)

DEBITO: Yes, your general manager Kobayashi-san knows me. As "Debito". I naturalized, and I would have liked him to have congratulated me. Or else, at least, let me in for a bath. (Shihainin ni mo, ne, watashi no koto wa mou, anou, Kobayashi-san wa mou shitteiru to iu koto desu kedo. "Debito" to yuttara desu ne wakaru to omoimasu. Debito de, watashi wa mou, kika ga dekimashita no de, maa, omedetou gurai yutte hoshikatta n desu keredomo. To iu yori mo, yappari, nyuujou sasete itadaku koto ga desu ne, hoshikatta n desu kedo.)

II-SAN: I'll tell him. (Tsutaette okimasu. Onegai shimasu.)

DEBITO: Okay, thank you very much, Ii-san. Goodnight. (Jaa, Ii-san, arigatou gozaimashita, wakarimashita. Sore de wa, oyasumi nasai.)

[Tape ends with the trio exiting into the parking lot.]


Arudou Debito/Dave Aldwinckle

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