“Japanese Only” Osaka Nishinari-ku Izakaya Bar brags on Instagram about refusing foreign customers service for a laugh! (UPDATE: RETRACTED)


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MATT:  My friends and I go to Osaka Honten in Osaka all the time.
Although discrimination against Non Japanese is a very serious issue in Japan, I can 
tell you that Osaka Honten has always been very welcoming to Non Japanese.
It seems that this was a case of a bad attempt at humor/overheard speech/inside joke
reported third hand by a blogger who was passing through and created a 外国人お断り
hashtag that probably (rightly so) alerted one of your readers. 
I say inside joke because most of the staff at Osaka Honten are from Korea or The Philippines, 
including my good friend Leo who has been working for Marufuku for 15 years.
Marufuku Honten is one of the cheapest restaurants in Nishinari. Most of the customers are poor and working class
and cannot afford to eat at more expensive restaurants in Osaka. 
I hope you will issue a retraction as soon as possible.
Original text:

Hi Blog. Here’s what you get when you allow business establishments legally to refuse service to Non-Japanese, as Japan does. Eventually it becomes so normalized (after all, it’s been more than twenty years since Japan signed the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination, and we still have no law against racial discrimination) that people no longer even bother to feel any form of guilt or shame about it.

Here’s an example where exclusionism becomes a selling point for an Osaka tachigui bar — gleefully bragging about it on Instagram with “gaikokujin okotowari” hashtags — where the proprietor even mentions how he elicited big laughs from other customers by refusing foreigners!

Clearly a nice place, publicly denigrating paying NJ customers at their own expense.  Contact details below.  Dr. Debito Arudou

From: PC
Subject: Owner brags about refusing foreigners on Instagram
Date: July 12, 2018
To: debito@debito.org

Hello Dr. Debito.

I have recently come across these posts (screenshots attached) on instagram of an izakaya owner (I presume) joking about refusing foreigners and even going as far as stating “This drinking establishment is cheap for the sake of Japanese people!” or something along those lines (maybe you can translate better) and even using #外国人お断りin the tags. The store is located in Osaka and is called ホルモン マルフク. Regards, PC

Name:  Marufuku Honten (Izakaya bar selling Horumon, or fried offal)

Address: 1-6-16 Taishi Nishinari-ku Osaka 557-0002
557-0002 大阪府 大阪市西成区 太子 1-6-16
Phone: 050-5890-9648 or 06-6641-8848


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12 comments on ““Japanese Only” Osaka Nishinari-ku Izakaya Bar brags on Instagram about refusing foreign customers service for a laugh! (UPDATE: RETRACTED)

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Interesting that he says in Japanese this is ‘because I don’t speak English’, which we’ve seen as an attempt to rationalize exclusive racist policies many times before in Japan, but always fails as an excuse since;
    1) It’s totally racist to presume all NJ speak English, and…
    2) What about the Japanese speaking NJ he’s refusing service to?

    As Dr. Debito points out, acting out on your racism towards Non-Japanese has now reached the level of casual entertainment and advertising for these people because there are no penalties what-so-ever for doing so. Sad.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    I want to add that this place is in Osaka’s Nishinari, which is absolutely the worst place I have ever seen in Japan. It’s like NY in a Micheal Winner movie! It used to be a place full of flop-houses and bars for day laborers and ‘offices’ for the yakuza front companies that ‘supplied’ labor to construction companies. Back in the bubble-era it was so bad the riot police only entered in groups of a hundred.
    Since the bubble burst, it’s gone downhill from that with many of its residents being unemployed and unemployable middle-aged/senior citizen former construction industry workers, now living on meager benefits. Even the yakuza out there have resorted to minor scams and street cons to make a living. It’s an area with a high level of mental health problems (and indeed we have here discussed how a couple of years back the yakuza were recruiting in Nishinari mentally ill people to work on the Fukushima clean-up).
    It’s absolutely the last place any one in Japan should ever want to go, BUT unfortunately is only a very short walk from a couple of Osakas most ‘famous’ sight-seeing spots (‘battleship tower’).

    Last time I was in Nishinari, there was a lot of Chinese blue collar workers crouching outside the conbini drinking beer. I guess that’s the labor imported to replace all the Japanese burn-out cases that used to live in the area.

  • The Instagram account belongs to a food blogger, not the owner. The tags are all the bloggers doing, probably for a laugh. I go to Marufuku Honten all the time. Non Japanese are definitely welcome there. Most of the staff is made up of Filipinos and Koreans.

    — Glad to hear. Please post evidence of your claims and we will issue a correction/retraction. Thanks. debito@debito.org.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      Mattk, seems then, like this is an attempt to discredit the place.
      Kudos to you for hanging out there. I haven’t spent anytime there, since back in the bubble Nishinari was a kind of ‘no go zone’ for foreigners.
      Maybe with all the imported labor, the place has changed for the better? Maybe that’s what prompted this racist to post his comments?

      • Brooks Slaybaugh says:

        Tourists go to that part of Osaka since it is cheaper. Air BNB has changed things, so more tourists are able to stay and visit. More tourists go off the beaten track and prefer Kansai to Tokyo.

        • Jim Di Griz says:

          No, that all sounds totally cool. My only knowledge of the area is 20 years old (at best!), so I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s becoming kinda ‘gentrified’ as opposed to the slum it was. Although the recent crackdown on AirBnB by the government will likely put the brakes on that (a perfect example of J-inc’s death grip on the throat of the Japanese economy).
          Maybe we should view this racist smearing against the bar, and the government crack-down on private rentals to NJ as two symptoms of the same sickness? Both appear to be increased insecurity on the part of the ‘entitled’ majority group in the face of change.

          • Brooks Slaybaugh says:

            I admit this surprised me too. On TV like on Asahi I have seen reports about foreigners visiting places like Nishinari and showing actual decent restaurants to visit, but at the same time the problem with the older men who live in poverty, or are homeless, or just hang out in a park drinking. Some gentrification I think. I used to avoid the area west of Tennoji.

    • — UPDATE: Debito.org has received photo evidence from Matt that Marufuku accepts NJ customers. Please see update to text above. This blog entry is hereby retracted with apologies. Debito

    • Thanks Mattk for making the effort. Mistakes do happen and it’s nice when they are remedied in the correct way.

  • Instagram has a feedback form for reporting the post as hate speech. Click on ‘Report Inappropriate’ then select ‘Hate speech or symbols’.

  • Indeed Japanese racism is so normalized that it has become an everyday “for shits and giggles” kind of thing that is often regurgitated by many Japanese racists without any thought that racist comments are offensive.

    At least from my experience wise I feel that racism is so ingrained that it has become a Japanese cultural custom or etiquette. Many times out of the blue during small talk with Japanese, they would suddenly blurt out something racist about NJ out of the blue and laugh at it.

    If you don’t follow through and add to the joke, or if you criticize them saying its racist and not funny, you will get “The Eye” from them. You then get lectured for being a “sensitive and troublesome NJ” and not understanding how “unique Japan” works.

    • It is so weird yet commonplace-“out of the blue during small talk with Japanese, they would suddenly blurt out something racist about NJ out of the blue and laugh at it.”
      I was in a ramen joint recently and an oyaji insisted on talking to me in English, ignoring my Japanese. He suddenly blurted out, “because Japanese are yellow monkey, but Americans know they are clever monkey”.

      Huh? What? Why, oh why?

      I just ignored the entire content and changed the subject. Towards ending the conversation and getting the hell out!
      Although my new technique is to name and quote Ishihara Shintaro. “are you a Japanese?”

      Fight fire with fire.


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