“Japanese Only” exclusionary Tentake tempura restaurant in Asakusa, Tokyo, allegedly due to NJ “hygiene” issues


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Hi Blog. Another to add to the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments. This time, a restaurant, as submitter Yoshio Tanaka notified me via email and photographs:

April 5, 2014, Yoshio Tanaka wrote:

Please would you mind helping me? Today I went to a restaurant in Asakusa with my wife and some Japanese friends. They didn’t allow us to enter, because me and my wife are not Japanese. In the entrance there is a paper that says “Japanese only” in English, and other advertisement in Japanese. My Japanese friend, entered to the restaurant and kindly asked the manager if me and my wife could enter, too. The manager said they doesn’t allow foreigners, no matter if they speak Japanese nor have been living in Japan for long.

I hope you can help me, and write some article about this discrimination. I think discrimination is one of the worst problem in our world, so we must stop it immediately.  Thank you for your time!!!

(All photos taken April 4, 2014.)

(NB:  The Japanese below the JAPANESE ONLY text on the sign reads, “The inside of this restaurant is very small.  In order to avoid accidents, we are sorry, but we refuse entry to all children below the age of 5.  We ask for our customers understanding and cooperation.”)


Noren of restaurant with the phone number.

天健 (てんたけ)
ジャンル 天ぷら、天丼・天重
住所 〒111-0032 東京都台東区浅草2-4-1
TEL・予約  03-3841-5519

“Ten-take” tempura restaurant, Tokyo-to Taitou-ku Asakusa 2-4-1, Phone 03-3841-5519

Contact details courtesy http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1311/A131102/13010522/, last updated January 2014, with no mention of its “Japanese Only” rules.  (It does mention the no children under five:  店内が非常に狭いため、事故防止の観点から5歳未満の子連れ不可の張り紙あり」.  Interesting how a “no foreigners” rule somehow escapes mention.)

COMMENT: I called Tentake today (April 5) to confirm with the management that yes, they do have a “Japanese Only” restriction.  Their reasons given:  1) Hygiene (eiseimen), which were, when asked, issues of “foreigners” not taking off their shoes when entering, 2) NJ causing problems (meiwaku) to other customers, and 3) a language barrier, as in NJ not speaking Japanese.  Basic Otaru Onsen exclusionary excuses.  When asked if he didn’t think these were prejudicial generalizations about all NJ, he said repeatedly that he couldn’t deal with “foreigners” (tai’ou o shi kirenai).  Then he hung up.

That’s as much information as I could get out of the management regarding the reasons for the exclusionism.  Readers who feel that this restaurant is behaving inappropriately for a business open to the general public are welcome to phone them at the number above, or drop by and say so directly.  Douzo.  ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE APRIL 18, 2014:  The sign is down and the shop is open to NJ customers again.

50 comments on ““Japanese Only” exclusionary Tentake tempura restaurant in Asakusa, Tokyo, allegedly due to NJ “hygiene” issues

  • — One comment from the grapevine:

    This needs to be brought to the attention of the Japan National Tourist Association and the Tokyo Metro and Taito-ku government offices.

    Here’s a suggestion: Why don’t you start producing and posting on your site single-sheet .pdfs that people can simply print out and snailmail to the relevant government agency? With debito.org also providing the addresses in English.

  • Bystander says:

    Oh gosh, whatever happened to that promise of おもてなし (“selfless hospitality”) that Christel Takigawa pledged in order to win the 2020 Olympic bid for Tokyo?  

  • One of the most effective forms of protest would be to write negative reviews of the establishment in the Tabelog site (similar to Yelp in US) calling upon all potential customers to boycott the establishment. One more theme to pursue is to lodge a complaint with the local shotengai and tourism associations.

  • How about we set up a whole lot of fake tabelog profiles and skewer this shop. 全然美味しくない。不味いな!

  • I used to live in Asakusa. It’s a big tourist area filled with guest houses and hostels.

    For most businesses in Asakusa I bet get a majority of tourists vs. living in Japan NJ as customers. If you’re a business owner who’s experiences with foreigners has been tough up until now a change needs to happen. Not putting a sign out excluding people, but help understanding and adapting so you will be able to deal with these issues. Instead of meeting supposed “hate” exclusionary signs, why not try to learn why this happened, in more detail, and try to help them with those issues instead of getting them in trouble? Seems like a win/win for most.

    Like give the guy suggestions:

    -If some foreigners stink (it happens sometimes), then tell the guy to buy some air freshners or get some airfreshners or simply make an excuse why they can’t come in (hey, this is Japan, if you have enough to eat a fuckin’ tempura bowl, you have enough money for a shower). If I had a restuarant in a small cramped area I would openly admit not letting them enter my establishment. This is 2014, get a fucking a bar of soap and come back.

    -If the customers don’t understand English, why not suggest somebody translate his menu into English with a little pamphelt to hand out saying “Thank you for coming to our restuarant. We apologize, but our staff do not speak English. Please if you would like to order feel free to choose something from the menu provided, but please understand it will be hard to answer any questions or customizing orders unless it’s explained in Japanese”, etc. etc.

    Just saying, it’s easy to judge a blog post on the internet for 100% authenticity in any situation. There is more to the story than the phone call Debito made and the posted picture, but plenty of people will see this and just associate this with “RACISM IN JAPAN!” junk. These people run a business, they want to make money, they might have had some shitty foreign customers in the past. But what does calling them out and making the situation worse solve? Nothing. Frickin’ conflict mediation, learned this shit when I was in 5th grade yo. shizzle.

    — Okay, Tkyosam. Go on down to the restaurant and mediate, find out the whole story, yo. And try and help this prejudiced manager understand, yo, that you understand Japanese, you live in Japan, and no matter how “foreign” you may look or smell, that you know how to take off your shoes, speak Japanese, and eat tenpura, yo. Make your suggestions, make him his menu etc., and do what you think will help — if he doesn’t boot you out in the first place like he’s done for every other “foreigner” since he put the sign up. Tell us how it goes.

    But don’t make it sound like we’ve done something wrong at Debito.org — because this bigot threw the first stone, and had the audacity to put up an exclusionary sign and refuse all “foreigners” (however he’s decided to determine “Japaneseness” — he’s already said someone even with your excellent Japanese skills won’t make much difference to him). The junk is not here. It’s there.

    PS: I don’t think you’ll want to perform this schtick anywhere near his restaurant. I don’t think he’ll get it.


    PPS: Tkyosam and I are friends offlist, hence this candor between us.

  • Kaerimashita says:

    You’ve gotta be kidding me. His restaurant in Asakusa, located right around Sensoji, one of Tokyo’s main tourist traps of all places? I really wonder how long this coot thinks his “Japanese Only” stance is going to last?

  • Based on the phone exchange the author had with the restaurant, this “Japanese Only” incident sounds like a case of practical aversion to the stereotypes of foreigners in Japan. (1) They don’t take their shoes off when they are supposed to, (2) They bother other customers (are foreigners in Japan too loud?) and (3) They don’t speak Japanese.

    Doesn’t sound like a serious case of prejudice.

    The “Japanese Only” sign should be taken down though. It obviously conveys a very negative message – and it deprives foreigners, including those who speak Japanese, of the opportunity to enjoy tempura at the establishment. Besides, wouldn’t the owner want to do business with everyone, make more money and see more people enjoy his/her tempura??

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    The Japanese text mentions the ban on small children but says nothing about non-Japanese patrons. How is an immigrant who speaks and reads Japanese fluently, but knows no English, to understand that they are banned? I’d love to walk right in and, when the sign is pointed out, point out in Japanese that I can’t read English. It would make for an ironic sight for the store owner to be demanding that a potential customer be able to read a foreign language!

  • Debito, you know I’m not trying to imply that your site hasn’t made any kinds of progress up until now. Hell, you made friggin’ books and helped tons of people thanks to this site (including me).

    Just saying, that what’s better? Break the obstacle or working around it? Besides bro, I know you are not the most um, er, “gentlest” in approach when it comes to talking to people when they have done something that pissed you off 😉

    I have to go Asakusa next week anyways so lets see if I can talk to him and prove ya wrong on helping da unknowledgeable J-man the wise words of the young NJ brethren.

    Also, don’t you date be dissin’ my shizzle word speakage yo! You know dis shiz is off da hype yo! shizzle.

    Thanks for the views man 😉

    — Welcome.

  • Yet another reason there needs to be a clear and strict law on against this crap. While restaurant’s banning foreigners does happen, it is rather rare compared to the shear amount of trouble foreigners have just trying to find a damn place to live. (And this is from experience with one seeing students from one of the best universities in Japan constantly refused housing due to being foreign by real estate agencies in dealings with owners)

  • Debito here. One thought I had this morning was about the issue of “hygiene”, as in Ten-take’s explicit allegation that NJ are less hygienic because they don’t take off their shoes. But looking at these photographs of the food (and the restaurant in the background), I’m not sure this is a place where one removes their shoes to enter anyway. So it seems a bit of a red-herring claim…

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    What a joke! This Tentake’s policy just doesn’t make sense. What is the connection between caption and memo? They not only disallow foreign-looking customers but also family who have toddlers because it will cause trouble–to their business? They already have problem for their failure to provide a decent space to customers(possibly, less than 10), who will likely be greeted with staff’s grim look if they stay and relax for too long. I’m not sure how many Japanese people want to visit this kind of crappy coffee-table restaurant. It’s even smaller than dime-a-dozen Yoshinoya, Mastuya, or Rampu-tei! Maybe some sort of local salary men might want to visit after 5. Wonder if this restaurant meets store inspection standards for normal operation.

  • Anonymous says:

    Many deniers of reality say, “Well, the sign does exclude entry based on race… but that’s not proof that the sign maker is a racist per-se, blah blah blah” And then we get pulled into an endless debate about what the person was thinking and whether the illegal action (excluding entry based on race) was a case of racism or not, and then racism-denier will finally write, “I called him, he says something different now, he says he likes all races, see, so… the sign was not racist, his heart is pure, he said so himself, case closed, no punishment. Next!”

    So, to prevent the conversation from heading into that realm of fantasy, in which a sign which excludes entry based on race gets somehow excused as being not illegal just because the person claims when they’re caught that they love the whole rainbow of humanity and the illegal exclusion was all just a cultural misunderstanding, it would be beneficial for us to stick to the undeniable fact that: a sign was posted which excludes entry based on race. That’s the sentence we need to put on broken record mode, to avoid getting pulled into an unanswerable (and unnecessary, and counter-productive) question about whether we should forgive illegal action just because the guy later claims (as they always seem to do) that their heart was pure.

    A sign which says “No Black People” is illegal.
    A sign which says, “No White People” is illegal.
    A sign which says “No Japanese people” is illegal.

    And this brings me to the next important point. The Japanese constitution actually states that such discrimination is illegal (as does the U.N. treaty Japan signed which a Judge of Japan recently mentioned properly in his ruling as his reason for the ruling, but nevermind using that because people usually say, “Well f*ck the U.N., we’re a free country, we don’t care about a U.N. piece of paper.) So, let’s stick to the Japanese Constitution, this is a good technique, (even though Japan’s constitution is simply a product of American respect for human rights, let the Japanese people be proud of it, and use their “Japan is perfect” script to get them to admit that such signs are illegal, here’s how:

    Simply say, as if you are proud of this country’s stance on the issue, “Nippon ni wa, jinshu de basho hairenai koto, soshite jinshu de mise ni hairenai kamban wa zettai ihou desu, nippon no kenpo ni kaita toori ni. Mochiron, nippon wa ii kuni dakara, soiyuu jinshu de hairenai koto wa zettai yurushimasen. Desu no de, kono kamban wa kanzenni ihou desu, soshite kaita kagaisha wa saiban de chantou nippon ni ayamaranakucha, soshite bakkin o harawanakucha, nazenareba nippon no houritsu mamoranakucha, zettai. Tashikani.”

    And as you nod your head up and down, seemingly filled with pride for what a wonderful law-abiding country Japan is, a country which definitely doesn’t forgive such illegal exclusion based on race, because the Japanese Constitution outlaws it (Article 14) watch the person you’re speaking with jump on the “positive” train of praising Japan and, and watch them start criticizing the perpetrator who dared to make Japan look bad with this outdated illegal exclusion-based-on-race practice.


    So there is a technique I have used successfully, try it. It’s simply flipping the script on them. We victims know that Japan currently forgives such race-exclusion-signs (and practices in general), but if we simply start saying that Japan DOESN’T forgive this (while remembering to really turn up the double pp in Nippon) we just might start a new meme circulating around Japan: the meme being, “Japan doesn’t forgive race-exclusion-signs.” Perhaps if we get enough people nodding their head and saying it and hopefully repeating it to their friends, eventually we might start to see some court cases in which the illegal action of race-exclusion-signs becomes actually punished,

  • J. Maurice says:

    I ate here years ago with my parents when they visited from Hawaii. Initially my mother walked in by herself and was told “no”, but I went in immediately afterwards and got us a table no problem. I guess he meant they didn’t have an english menu.

    At the time there was no “japanese only” sign, but I do remember it being very traditional, so I can understand why they might have trouble with random american tourists in asakusa who can’t read a handwritten japanese menu.

  • I call bs on hygiene other than the manager’s derogatory imaginings of NJ people. Never seen a Ji-chan pick his nose or light up a cigarette in a restaurant? I also call BS on shoes. This is not a tatami establishment. If there is a 玄関 then maybe. I think the 迷惑 is a mixture of real and perceived issues. Tourist catchment area with loud NJ tourists, disturbing the social harmony of the tight dining space – most likely. Customers with their own deep set disliking for NJ, making complaints to staff – possibly. Unfortunately, my guess is that the sign is not just a statement from management – but also from the community who would evidently keep the business running. So I believe, that this is not just an issue for the shop but also the community. Racism has the green light in Australia, and many other Western countries and sadly here too.

  • As I’ve noted before on other threads, a language barrier, whether for the proprietor or the customer has never been an issue, in my experience, in any other country in the world. The exception has always been Japan. Communication is a willingness to engage and understand and is not just a language issue. If someone does not wish to engage, in any kind of interlocutor with you, it is clearly not related to a simple language barrier; it is another reason. Certain “individuals” who tend to behave deviantly, fine one gets such in every country from the UK to US to Australia…and they are here in Japan too. However, where individuals of the country as a “norm” tend to not wish to engage, and cite “language” as the reason is obviously something that is more deep rooted in the psyche of a nation. Communication is about comprehension, and comprehension is about understanding and/or a willingness to understand to convey an idea or thought from one person to another, by whatever means. In the absence of a willingness, there is no communication nor understanding.

    There are ignorance/racist people in every country inc Japan. Yet that is very different from a willingness to engage and communicate with someone, in whatever manner, that is not “part of the collective”.

    Thus if a sushi bar owner, does not wish to engage, it is a clear signal they do not wish to “understand” beyond their norms. And their “norms”, speak for themselves, as it does for a society that sees nothing wrong with such signs in their neighbourhood.

  • John (Yokohama) says:

    Except in Canada for example a lawyer would show up, a lawsuit would be filed, the shop would be assailed by the media, and the shop would be wiped out financially.


  • — Good news. Looks like the Asahi is on the case. From Debito.org Reader XY:

    Debito – about the Tempura – great article. It actually scares me that’s going on in the main tourist area of Tokyo. Just to let you know I actually wrote to both Mainichi and Asahi newspapers. Figured they might be interested in this, given the recent press around the Urawa Reds not too long ago.

    I have no idea if they will get back to me but might refer them to you (or your original reader who brought it up) if they do, if that’s OK.

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: XY
    Date: 2014-04-08
    Subject: 浅草で「Japanese Only」事件、東京五輪は大丈夫でしょうか?
    To: shakaibu@asahi.com


    最近、浦和レッズの「Japanese Only」問題について興味深く読ませていただいていました。

    今回は別のサイトで読んだ記事ですが、浅草の浅草寺の近くの「天健」という天ぷら屋さんが「Japanese Only」という張り紙をドアに貼っていました。(下記のリンクに写真などあり)





    詳細情報のURL: http://www.debito.org/?p=12256


    From: XY
    Date: 2014-04-08

    Debito – I already got a call from Asahi Shimbun. A reporter in the Tokyo shakai-bu. I told him this was from your site and he said he was already trying to follow up with you as well. He said that Asahi are very interested in covering this story. He had already gone to visit the tempura place.

    I just told him a little bit about my reaction to the story – which was one of disappointment.

    He seemed like a very good reporter – hope you get a chance to talk to him. Best Regards.

  • I’m actually quite surprised that an establishment in an area so well frequented by foreign tourists such blatant discrimination can still be so prominently displayed.

    Especially considering the whole Olympic prep stuff and the recent Urawa fiasco, you’d think shops would be a little more cautious about things like this.

    But I think as Anon #17 was saying, instead of taking a 外圧 approach to shaming these store owners into changing, a 内圧 approach of using Japanese cultural norms to reform behavior might have a better effect. XY did a wonderful thing bringing the issue up with the media, taking advantage of a recently emerging trend of finding and outing racist behavior. It’s only an emerging trend, however, because people are vigilant and vocal. Kudos for that.

    The Olympics have given us a unique advantage that, sadly, until recently we haven’t really had. Japan is about to have guests. Lots and lots of them. And naturally, before one has guests, it’s customary to clean house. I think all that needs to happen is to convince people, such as these store owners, that opening their doors to people of all nationalities is intrinsically in their best interest. Get rid of the ugly (read: overt racism) and put on your best face. The issue is whether that ugliness is simply swept under a rug or actually disposed of. And that’s where I think the phrasing of the argument comes in.

    If this store gets pressure from the community to change their policy based on “it makes us look bad to all these other countries looking in”, that’s purely extrinsic motivation. It’s shaming. And yes, it’s effective, to a certain degree, but it’s superficial. If what you’re after is immediate results then sure, ya, go for it, but I don’t know that it’s going to stop these things from happening elsewhere. I think all it might end up doing is breeding resentment. Yes, I’ll change, but not because I want to but because I want to avoid punishment.

    What really struck me about #17’s comment was how they proposed turning the “This is Japan” argument against those who typically use it to discriminate. Japanese are particularly susceptible to ここは日本だから so why not turn the tables? This is Japan, and Japan doesn’t discriminate.

    What this owner needs to hear, and what we must not be afraid to say, is that we too are Japan. And we are ashamed of ourselves that this type of behavior persists in this day and age.

    Even as a very tall eyesore of an American, I too am part of the cultural mural that is modern Japan and I too accept responsibility for the behaviors, good and bad, of the fellow people of this country I have chosen. As such it’s my responsibility to stand up to, and attempt to right behavior that puts us to shame, not simply in the eyes of outsiders but in ours as well.

  • @20 Mike, @22 John (Yokohama)
    And except in Australia for example a lawyer would show up, a lawsuit would be filed, the shop would be assailed by the media, and the shop would be wiped out financially:
    (By the way, this is happening in a rural mining town with a population of about 1,000; I don’t think that anyone would even dare to put up such a sign in a downtown area of a major metropolis)

    I’m confident that people from many countries could find a similar local news story. The simple fact that such a thing is considered to be newsworthy, and news to be commented upon negatively, is a healthy sign. There are racist and sexist people in EVERY nation, and while people like you and I must continue doing our small parts to change their attitudes (or at least speak up against them), that doesn’t equate to a “green light” from the entire society unless the majority of the members of that society turn a blind eye to the problem.

  • CanadianJapan says:

    I just went there to have lunch. I am of european(western) origin and I have immigrant status(PR) in Japan. I had no problem getting in and I enjoyed 野菜天ぷら定食 with a Sapporo beer. All communication was done in Japanese. Those saying that debito is wasting his time with his blog and this whole let’s fight discrimination thing might need to swallow their words. I have no doubt that this post made the owner think twice about this “Japanese only” policy. There was a Japanese guy discussing the “Japanese only” rule with the owner while I was there. Here’s a few things I overheard from the conversation

    – The store has been visited by Taito-ku people inquiring about the “Japanese only” sign. Obviously they are taking the matter seriously.
    – It appears people from one very specific country have been causing most of the trouble. I will refrain from naming this country, however they were not Canadians(my country of origin)
    – The “Japanese only” sign is only posted on weekends. There was no sign today (Tuesday)
    – Non-Japanese with good manners are still very welcome

    Thumbs up for debito. I might have been welcome very differently 2 weeks ago.

  • Excellent topic. Great comments. I agree that this should be forwarded to the IOC. They need to know that these signs can spring up at any time during the 2020 Olympics. They should be prepared.

    I can’t help but wonder – this restaurant has been around for a while – what made this owner put up this sign? Why did he think it would be ok? Whatever the problem he perceived, why was this the solution he chose?

    Note: In Hawaii, there are over 1.5 million Japanese tourists each year. A fair number of them do unspeakable things to the English language daily. I know they cause much confusion. Here are but a few examples:
    Many Japanese tourists are loud. They talk loud. They laugh loud. In restaurants. Everywhere.
    Some Japanese tourists act and dress inappropriately.
    Some Japanese go to one of Oahu’s many members-only clubs, walk right past the “members only” sign, and cause a scene.
    Some Japanese squat on the western toilet – in their (dirty) shoes – leaving shoe prints…
    Some Japanese eat Thai food with chopsticks! Don’t they know?
    Some Japanese with bad accents attempt to order a ‘cup-of-tea’, but get a cappuccino instead.
    Most Japanese who rent cars in Hawaii don’t have a credit card with a zip code – so they have major problems at the gas station when they try to fill up using a credit card, and the machine asks for their zip code… I have been stuck behind hundreds of these cases… I have personally educated a few dozen…
    Japanese people who have moved to Hawaii, and now live in Hawaii, when talking to Japanese people from Japan, or other Japanese people who now live in Hawaii, call all non-Japanese people, including American citizens “gaijin”

    My point?

    1. Tourists, from everywhere, when out of their comfort zone, often are not at their best. No matter what country, if we search long enough, we will find annoying things people from any country do when overseas.
    2. We all need to cut each other a little slack.
    3. EVERYTHING I wrote above (about Japanese ‘bad habits’ in Hawaii) is true, and none of it bothers me. (ok, the gaijin thing a little)
    4. All of us, and Debito, should forward this, and each “Japanese only” sign to the IOC. They need to know what they bought into.
    5. This sign, and all others need to go.
    6. Ultimately, the Japanese government needs to step up, and make discrimination illegal. And not just in restaurants, but in employment, housing, etc.

  • Anonymous says:

    Here is how to make a report to the police about illegal action (such as breaking Article 14 of the Japanese Constitution)
    and immediately below that, how to make a report to the Kouan Iinkai about the police not investigating the illegal action


    「○○店名は ”○○法律” に違反していると思いますので、捜査をお願いします。」
    (replace the previous quoted section with appropriate law being broken, for example “日本国憲法 第十四条”)

    「○○警察署が ”○○法律” に違反した店舗を捜査してくれません。」

    (Ah, nice, know we know the Kouan Iinkai site for all Japan, not just Tōkyō.)


    And here is a link to the Constitution of Japan, the supreme law of the land, to find the law being broken:

  • Actually, shh, don’t tell anyone, but the Japanese Constitution Article 14 only makes discrimantion based on race illegal when the perpetrator is a national GOVERNMENT employee, or local MUNICIPAL employee.

    I was reminded of this fact just now, when I read this:


    So Debito is right, we need a law in Japan protecting victims of discrimination when the perpetrator is a private individual.

    And thus, our best hope is to get the U.N. to realize that Japan signed a treaty to make discrimination by private individuals illegal, but Japan has still not done what it contracted to do, so Japan has broken a contract, Japan is currently in the state of illegally breaking a treaty with the United Nations.

    Yep. And well, until the U.N. comes in and uses NATO to force Japan to obey the contract it signed with the U.N., then I’m still gonna’ continue using my speech above, with slight changes thrown in whenever I meet someone smart enough to know that the Constitution only limits the government, not private people.

    By the way, if you want to see Japanese people discussing discrimination based on race, search for this phrase: “外国人という理由で” which google shows as appearing on 2,590,000 pages, or “外国人という理由” which appears on 3,380,000.

    — Where did you get the Japanese you read above from?

  • To Answer your question Debito, I was searching for my that beautiful Todai Summary “職務質問” + “東京大” when I happened to find this:


    Notice that the guy who posted that puts this right at the top of his profile: 新大久保の差別デモに対して差別反対の意思表示をしませんか
    This Toshiki guy deserves some respect for the stance he is taking and the activism he is doing.

    So anyway, the title of the article he posted was interesting, because it started out with the phrase “外国人という理由で”

    So then I started searching for that phrase.

    In this happened to be one of the top hits;


    As you can see, the quote I pasted above is from the second answer.

    But even though I disagree with the ethics of the situation, I have to agree that the person’s explanation of reality is correct.

    The constitution is talking about what Public officers can’t do to private people, not what private people can’t do to private people.

    The Japanese explanation above, posted as an unfortunate fact, confirmed the slight worry I had when first read Article 14 carefully:

    Article 14. All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.

    Hmmm, what’s that “in political, economic, or social relations” limiter in there. What does the Japanese say?

    第十四条 すべて国民は、法の下に平等であつて、人種、信条、性別、社会的身分又は門地により、政治的、経済的又は社会的関係において、差別されない。


    Actually, I’m back on the fence about this question. Does the above mean that this only applies to Public officials or not?

    Wait a second, now I remember, this came up in studies of the American Constitution. The American Constitution also only protects people from discrimination done by public officials, and doesn’t protect people from discrimination done by private people. And so, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is what suddenly started to protect people from discrimination done by private people.

    And now I remember how I learned that fact: I read an article (by a nice black guy – isn’t it racist how humans add that needless info in, but it actually is relevant here, because…) this guy wrote a compelling article AGAINST the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (what!? right) because he felt, even though his race benefited and benefits from that legislation, that it is NOT the governments job to force private people to do business with anybody and to let anybody into their clubs, he argued quite convincingly that we should only have the constitutional “no discrimination against private people by PUBLIC officials” and that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was UNCONSTITUTIONAL. And I suddenly felt convinced, I felt that “Yeah, private people SHOULD have the right to be jerks if they wanna” because I am in general against governments limiting private people’s freedoms, and also I’m on the edge about whether hurting people’s feelings is really equal to hurting their body of property. In my opinion, there is only one law: don’t hurt people’s bodies or property, that is all. If your body or property has not been hurt, than you can not imprison somebody. And if you have not hurt anybody’s body or property, you can not be imprisoned. No victim, no crime. So I’m always on the fence about this question of “Does somebody wearing a T-shirt with a message I don’t like, or saying a sentence I don’t like, or writing words online which I don’t like, allow me to successfully petition the courts to have that person thrown in jail for hurting my feelings?” And “Does somebody not letting me into their club, or home, or business, allow me to successfully petition the courts to have that person thrown in jail for hurting my feelings?” I want to sue all the private individuals that refuse to do business with me, but can I really say they hurt my body or my property? No, they only hurt my feelings, that’s the plain truth.

    So I sent you that article, privately, ans asked for your thoughts. As I recall, you answered that it was a “slippery slope” argument, or an “extremist” argument, which I would someday realize was wrong.

    Do you still have that article? I can’t seem to find it. It would be interesting if you could post it and poke some holes in the logic, because (as I summarized my own thinking above) it really does seem that we want people to be imprisoned for hurting our feelings. For example, should it be illegal to say I don’t believe the official “6 million” claim (even though I am Jewish)? In some countries now laws have been passed which make stating unpopular opinions is an imprisonable “crime”. I really do think that people should be free to to think what they want, say what they want, do what they want, with only one limitation: don’t hurt anybody’s body or property.

    So I have seen myself jump from one side of the fence to the other, repeatedly, on this issue of whether we can legally (and ethically) punish some person for saying, “I don’t like your type, I don’t wanna do business with you. Get outta my store, get offa’ my property.” Sometimes I’m like, “Let’s have this guy arrested!” And I can write paragraph after paragraph trying to rationalize having the guy arrested. But other times I step back and say “Hey, did he hurt my body? No. Did he hurt my property? No. Well, than I guess I just have to accept that I can’t control his behavior beyond that.”

    I guess I’m back on the “only government officials should have to deal with everyone equally (because we are all forced under threat of imprisonment to pay those government officials – taxes) so they have to deal with all of us as equally paying “customers”, but private individuals who have NOT accepted any money from us have no obligation to let us into their home or their business.

    So here we were, merely wondering if the Japanese Constitution is like the American Constitution (merely protecting people from discrimination done by PUBLIC officials) and suddenly I’ve (sorry) brought up the bigger issue of SHOULD Japan really copy America’s additional (some say unconstitutional) Civil Rights Act of 1964?

    Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s crazy for me to say this, because just a day ago I wrote, “we need a law in Japan protecting victims of discrimination when the perpetrator is a private individual.”

    Hmmm, maybe we don’t. Maybe I’m going to focus on Unconstitutional things done to private people by PUBLIC officials only, like when police do things to private people that are violating the Constitution.

    Forgive me for bringing up a touchy subject, the root of this site, the issue you have dedicated your life to ever since that jerk looked at you and your family and said “Whitey can’t enter, and neither can the daughter that looks kinda’ white.” I know how painful that must have been. No wait, I can’t know how painful that must have been. Only you can know that.

    I just want to say that even though it was painful to your feelings, if I were judge right now today, with my “No victim no crime” philosophy strongly in hand, I would have to say “Private people are allowed to be jerks. Private people are allowed to hurt other people’s feelings. Private people are allowed to keep their businesses private.”

    I’m sure that you will have a strong reply, and I will merely read it and quietly think about it. I won’t try to debate you, since I have already laid out all I have to say on the subject in this post. And I have written too much here recently, I need to step back for a few months and let other people step up to the mic.

    Thanks again for having this forum Debito, where people can speak freely about how they currently feel, and to share information about laws, and to discuss what laws we think are flawed, and to discuss what laws we think should be enacted. Even if you and I might disagree about some things, I still respect all the energy you have put into trying to help make Japan a better place for our children.

    — You’re tying yourself up in knots. Here’s how I cut them:

    Anyone with a business open to the public and licensed by the state is an organization (not a private individual) that must provide service to anyone with legal tender. That’s why we have business licenses. For quality and service standards control and maintenance. Full stop.

  • Iselita Arlen says:

    Hello. I’m Yoshio’s wife. I want to say “Thank you very much” Arudou Debito for your attention in this case and “Thank you very much” to everyone who support it. Honestly, I didn’t have such a bad time, I didn’t feel annoyed for the situation because I’m able to understand that stupid people could be found everywhere, I’m very sorry for my friends who invited us for lucnh because they were almost going to cry asking us to forgive this situation in their country. If we contacted Debito San is because we believe if we sit by and just look what’s going around us, it obviously means that it’s okay, but as Debito said this is something that could affect to the next generations and now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mlm4zUEaY1k
    Another detail, it’s not only about us, right? there are too many foreigners living and working in this country and every year people from all around the world coming for tourist interests.
    I’m glad there’s people to understand that discrimination is a problem in the world and particularly here but I’m completely disappointed when even NJ people say they’re not against racism because it could be make it even worst.

  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    @ JDG #30

    Don’t panic! Mr. Mainwaring is on the case!

    Seriously though, I can’t imagine what kind of sticker allegedly put up by Koreans would be “kimochi warui” [did they get a 13 year old to come up with the wording?] unless this self-proclaimed “Protect the Japanese henro society” took offence to seeing something written in Korean.

    On the bad news front, more stickers have been found.
    On the good news front, locals are finding them offensive and the Mainichi is calling “sabetsu”:

    遍路道:朝鮮人排斥訴える貼り紙 徳島、高松の5休憩所
    毎日新聞 2014年04月10日 12時23分(最終更新 04月10日 23時56分)





  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    There was a report on the anti-Korean stickers on the TV news yesterday (sorry, I can’t remember which station)

    In summary:
    1) Yes, the makers of these ILLEGAL stickers were offended at the small Korean print on the OFFICIALLY SANCTIONED stickers put up by the Korean in question.
    2) Police are investigating.
    3) Unfortunately, the people asked their opinions tended to see the issue as “embarrassing” rather than “wrong”.

  • Do I need a business license to teach English from my home?

    Am I allowed to pick and choose which students I accept?

    — No, not unless you are doing it through a company (which means you need a business license through incorporation for tax status). And yes, you can choose what students to accept. Unless you tell them that you aren’t accepting a certain type of student (say, students from Fukushima), and then you might have a civil suit on your hands. Now stop sending blathering posts (which, for the record, I have deleted) and settle down and stick to the blog topic.

  • The 13 unapproved defacing-public-property-stickers should be taken down.

    The 3000 unapproved defacing-public-property-stickers should be taken down.

    The former were racist, and the latter were advertisements.

    The latter, as can be seen on the site of the person who put them up, were not merely arrows, but actually 3000 advertisements for a commercial (.com) site (now taken down) and her country (nevermind the language question, there is no rational reason for the NAME of some country, be it “Korea”, or “Italy”, or “U.S.A”, to be written on these supposedly “directional-help-only” stickers.) Actually, her blog proudly claims she put up 4000 of these advertisements, and the only person that gave her permission is her “love of the area.”


  • “The latter, as can be seen on the site of the person who put them up, were not merely arrows, but actually 3000 advertisements for a commercial (.com) site”

    Such nonsense is what drives me up the wall about Japan. Her web site is clearly advertising for Japanese tourism to Korean visitors by promoting the trail. Yet the Japanese right wing are allowed to promote their hate fest when people give such poor excuses to excuse Japan’s xenophobic incidents. We get it, there’s no racism in Japan. Pathetic.

  • Jimmy, I wrote, “The 13 stickers… were racist.” I also informed people that this lady’s blog page 102 showed a photo her first sticker version (which nobody here had actually seen yet) with a .com link (which nobody here has seen the contents of, because she pulled the .com site down) and in her blog page she bragged that she posted 4000 of those stickers (hello, 4000 stickers on public property), and no she didn’t have approval to put all those advertisements to her site (which regardless of good intentions was a .com site which probably received banner income.) I sure as hell didn’t say “there’s no racism in Japan”, nor did I say that her misbehavior “excused Japan’s xenophobic incidents”. I simply pointed out that her damn 4000 stickers should be taken down (because they needlessly contained an advertisement for some website and some country, instead of simply being a neutral directional-arrow.) The tourists she was “so worried about getting lost” are already there, enjoying the place she wants them to visit, so why do they need to be shown an advertisement for her site and her country at that stage? The reasoning for defending her 4000 advertisements don’t make sense. Her stickers were advertisements, and that guy’s stickers were racist. Take down all stickers on public property. Period.

  • Debito, suppose someone (non-Japanese) were to go to one of these places, sit down, attempt to order something, and then refuse to leave until granted service? What if a group of non-Japanese did this? (you know, kind of like a sit in).Surely the police cannot eject people doing this? I think that would be a very effective form of protest in these sorts of cases.

    — They’ve been tried, as far back as the Ana Bortz Case in 1998. The police ignored the claim if not simply asked the NJ to leave on behalf of the owner. But try it if you want. Let us know how it goes.

  • Whippenpoof says:

    Tepido Eido Inoue takes full credit for sign coming down. Commentators say that Debito tried to “economically attempt to rape the restaurant in whatever aggressive way he could find”, and that Debito went to Otaru onsens as a “mob” and immediately threatened to sue. Accusing Debito.org of mob rule.


  • Jim di Griz says:

    I’m sure Eido didn’t leave until he got a free lunch for saving this poor, honest shop-keeper from the ‘big, bad’ Debito.

    — No doubt he paid. It’s an investment.

  • Typical apologist propaganda, in suits no less. Its the same people, same crap, only this time suited up, but always sickening to watch. The apologist, as I long ago suspected, are becoming more marginalized. As japan becomes more xenophobic and nationalist, they are having a hard time justifying their existance in Japan and defending their arguements. A real pathetic bunch, clearly outnumbered by more people who are experiencing japan for what it is, but still trying to hold on to their ridiculous existance. I actually feel sorry for the poor souls, having sold out that much, they are in quite deep. Picking at every hint of “racism” and discrediting it with weird attempts of humor. Im guessing the suits are an attempt to give them more authority, but makes them look more henna gaijin. Ignore these freaks and soldier on.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    In the footage(see #43), Eido seems to be an innocent informant (compared to two clueless commenters: Vick and Hiko), but I smell something fishy about his character. He may not be one of those typical, hot-tempered, unreasonable apologists and troll appearing elsewhere on the internet. While I give him some credit to the takedown of sign, that does’t turn him into Homer. I don’t know much about him, but he looks like a guy who likes to snap his finger at those trying to speak out for people suffering from mental anguish and emotional distress NJ experience in Japanese society.

  • Eidos comments that 99% of problems foriegners have finding a job have to do with Japanese ability. Is that so now. So when you apply in Japanese, only to be told that “we only hire Japanese” this isnt discrimination? Like I said, its more of the waste of time, self doubting, apologist crap thats been recycled over and over. These types are becomming more and more irrelevant, as their useless advice gets exposed for what it is.

  • Daniel Burke says:

    The sun was shining today in Tokyo, my new residence of only a week or so (I spent the last three years in Kyoto), so out I went for a walk. Just the thing to get me in a good mood usually, only when I popped into a small mom and pop store to try and buy a hat (asking in Japanese), I was refused service. “Members only, sorry.” Lovely.

    And I had just started to think more positively of Tokyo after the horrible experience my Chinese partner and I had finding an apartment (and her being viciously elbowed by people on the metro). We are both Kyoto U. grads, and myself a now ex-monbusho scholar. Think I am a Japan advocate? Like heck. I’m more understanding and forgiving of individuals having crossed the language divide, but a lot of what is on that other side aint too pretty either.

  • I’ve just read about the famous sushi place where POTUS was taken to dine. Apparently it hasn’t always been so foreigner-friendly.


    “It would appear that they really don’t want foreigners to come here, in which case it would have seemed logical for them to decline being in the Michelin (as a few places in Tokyo did) and remain with their local regulars. Instead they seem happy to take gaijin money, but not to manage even the semblance of courtesy.”


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