“Japanese Only” signs up in two Hokkaido Chitose city restaurants, Yakitori “Kawasemi” and Shokuji-dokoro “Yokaro”, June 2021.


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Hi Blog. Here are some more “Japanese Only” signs that have appeared in Hokkaido (and nationwide) since the original ones back on 1993 that occasioned the Otaru Onsens Case. This time they are gracing restaurants in the eatery area of Chitose, a major city just outside of Sapporo that hosts Hokkaido’s largest international airport.

Courtesy of Keiron, taken June 21 and June 24, 2021. Details follow.  Enjoy the omotenashi of un-Embedded Racism.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.


1) Yakitori Restaurant “Kawasemi”
北海道 千歳市 千代田町 2-1-1 1F
Ph: 0123-27-6700
Location: https://tabelog.com/hokkaido/A0107/A010701/1027793/dtlmap/

Comment: The owner also has a sign up in Japanese on the door excluding customers who have been to the local cabaret clubs and karaoke enterprises. But I guess foreigners are excludable under all circumstances, regardless of their choice of entertainment.
Anyway, for what it’s worth, the establishment gets only lukewarm reviews on Tabelog.


2) Restaurant “Yokaro”
北海道 千歳市 幸町 1-1 新橋通り商店街
Ph: 0123-24-5448
Location: https://tabelog.com/hokkaido/A0107/A010701/1034029/dtlmap/

Comment: This restaurant also gets only lukewarm reviews on Tabelog. Methinks these places can hardly afford to turn away customers.

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6 comments on ““Japanese Only” signs up in two Hokkaido Chitose city restaurants, Yakitori “Kawasemi” and Shokuji-dokoro “Yokaro”, June 2021.

    • Jaocnanoni says:

      I suspect that the English menu is from pre-Covid times and that the “Japanese customers only” sign is one of those that went up because of the pandemic. It’s displayed among other pandemic related signs.

    • Baudrillard says:

      If its near a nightclub area as was mentioned, is this for the Filipina hostesses who dine with their customers before or after work?
      Quite often such bars have international staff but a Japanese only clientelle (because they’ll feel threatened by the competition, perhaps). I knew such a bar as I had a Filipina friend working there, she said I could only come if I had a Japanese, so literally a Gaijin Handler, to enter with.

      I could go into the street harassment and glares I got from J-Oyaji when my girlfriend was from the Philippines (in their deigned Sphere of Influence, no doubt they thought), but I wont digress further.

      • I don’t understand your second paragraph totally. Are you saying the J-Oyaji were angry because you were with a girl from the Philippines? Do these J-Oyaji somehow feel more entitled to foreign Asians and seeing a Filipina with a non-Japanese male feels like competition?

        What I don’t understand is, you see countless non-Japanese (primarily white males) with Asian women in Japan. Why would this be such a shock to the J-Oyajis? Or, is this mainly an issue outside of Tokyo or places where foreign males are less common?

  • Baudrillard says:

    ‘Methinks these places can hardly afford to turn away customers.” Ah but in Japan their system, the “wa” and their possibly racist customers, is more important to them than money. Theyd rather go bust.
    Jim pointed out that Japan writ large would rather go out in a kind of ragnarok event than import more foreigners and dliute what it means to be “japanese”. This is the same thinking on the micro level.

    I think I mentioned the silly owner in Machida,at whose bar we did an event on Monday night and brought loads of people but when we proposed a ticket system, he baulked as it would, he claimed, irk his regular customers, But on a Monday night the place was empty. There were almost no such regulars.

    The exact same conversation looped in circles a couple of times before the gaijin investors lost interest in trying.

  • UPDATE: We’ve had our typical second-guessers in various online fora, claiming that these signs mean “Japanese LANGUAGE Only” (i.e., the proprietors cannot speak a foreign language), or that protesting this is a wasted effort because you can just go elsewhere. Here’s how I responded:

    A poster wrote, for example:Yeah, they really mean they speak Japanese only. This phrase was so rampant on the internet during 90s.”

    I responded to all:
    Historically and factually incorrect. “This phrase was so rampant on the internet during 90s” was because we made it so with the Otaru Onsens Case–see the record of “Japanese Only” signs we created in the 1990s and beyond at http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html.

    In fact, in my survey of hundreds of “Japanese Only” signs and rules that I did for my doctoral fieldwork, hardly any of them were enforced to mean “Japanese language only.” They all meant “Japanese people only”.

    In fact, I cannot recall in my research a SINGLE place with a “Japanese Only” sign up that meant language only.

    Especially if you’d bother to actually visit the link and look at the second place, “Yokaro”. Their sign specifically says “Japanese customers only”. That’s definitive.

    And just going to another place is not a solution. As my book “Japanese Only” (Akashi Shoten, 2007, http://www.debito.org/japaneseonly.html) outlines, letting the signs alone emboldened other places to put signs up of their own, nationwide. Discrimination, if left alone, eventually spreads to other places and industries, and signposting it only lends legitimacy to the act of exclusion.

    Let’s study the historical record and the evidence before commenting and offering half-baked solutions.



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