Debito’s SNA VM column 57: “Overtourism as racism” (July 1, 2024). Most media on too many foreign tourists in Japan ignores how xenophobes are using “overtourism” to bully foreigners. Debito.org even argues it’s producing discriminatory policies worse than “Japanese Only” signs!

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“OVERTOURISM” AS RACISM

Much media has covered the downside of too many foreign tourists in Japan. Less attention has been devoted to how xenophobes use “overtourism” as a means to bully foreigners.

By Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

SNA Visible Minorities column 57, July 1, 2024

Courtesy https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2024/07/01/visible-minorities-overtourism-as-racism/

In late May, Joshua Sherlock, an eight-year resident of Kyoto offering local tours, took a group of foreign tourists on an evening visit of Yasaka Shrine.  They were confronted by a local middle-aged woman (Twitter handle @fujino_ojo), accusing them of ringing the shrine’s bell too loudly and disrespecting a religious place.

Fujino took the liberty of filming the occasion, and according to her video, Sherlock’s group apologized multiple times.  But she still chased after them as they left.  Sherlock repeatedly asked her to leave them alone in English and Japanese, to which Fujino accused Sherlock of discrimination because he spoke English to her.  Finally, he answered in Japanese using the same tone she used on him.  Claiming Sherlock had “rudely brushed her off,” Fujino then uploaded her videos to Twitter where they got a million views.

What happened next was devastating.  According to The Times (London), Sherlock’s family reported people telephoning his home to scream insults and demand he leave Japan.  A removal van arrived to collect their belongings.  Strangers began prowling their neighborhood, and somebody threatened to set their apartment on fire.  His wife began having panic attacks and their daughter was taken out of school.  

Sherlock says that he no longer feels safe in Kyoto, and, suspending his tour services, fears that even stepping outside might result in him being “attacked by a lynch mob of extreme right-wing people.”  

The Times’ headline:  Japanese hospitality wears thin as overtourism takes toll”.

“OVERTOURISM” AS A MEANS OF HARASSMENT 

“Overtourism” has become a trendy word to describe Japan attractions (e.g., Shibuya Scramble, Hachiko, Ginza, Kyoto, Senso-ji, Mount Fuji) being overrun by tourists.  But in Japan the word is specifically associated with “foreign tourists,” i.e., mobs blocking traffic, disrupting local businesses and mores by littering and chattering away in their foreign languages.

I don’t dispute that “overtourism” can happen.  Too many people crowding into a place can produce problems of noise, pollution, disruption, and property damage.  

But be careful about associating it with “foreigners.”  As evidenced by the Karen-esque confrontation at Yasaka Shrine, it’s giving license to Japan’s busybodies, bullies, and xenophobes.

This column will argue that “overtourism” is not only becoming the latest incarnation of racialized bullying, it’s also producing reactionary public policies that are actually worse than the “Japanese Only” signs of yore.

WHAT EXACTLY DOES JAPAN WANT FROM ITS TOURISTS?  

Given Japan’s excellent public transportation systems, tourism has long been a source of economic activity.  As Japanese discovered they had more disposable income, depopulating rural areas realized they needed more revenue.  

So local governments launched programs to encourage people to visit.  Even during the privations of the pandemic, there were subsidized traIns, cut rates on hotel and airplane packages, and ad campaigns for local festivals and seasonal sights encouraging people to get out and spend money.

This included foreign tourists.  Hard to believe now, but Japan once whined that there weren’t enough foreigners sightseeing.  An article in the June 6, 2010, Asahi Shinbun grumbled that Chinese consumers were being “stingy,” noting their “tendency to scrimp on accommodations and meals and bypass tourist attractions for the main purpose of their trips—buying electronic appliances and designer brand clothing and accessories.”  

So the national government steered them towards those attractions with slogans about Japan’s special “omotenashi” (hospitality) and splashy “Cool Japan” and “Yokoso Japan” campaigns worldwide.  For good measure, Japan also sponsored major international competitions such as the FIFA World Cup, the Rugby World Cup, and the Olympics.  

The goal was to make Japan a major world tourism destination.  They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.  

In 2023, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, Japan’s tourism sector was forecast to employ about 5.6 million people and represent 6.8% of Japan’s GDP.  With the devalued yen, I expect the numbers will be even better this year.

But there can be too much of a good thing.  Local governments in Kyoto and Mt. Fuji have started restricting entry to certain areas.  A town in Yamanashi famously put up a screen to block a view of Mt Fuji behind a convenience store, blaming this overkill on “bad manners” from foreign tourists.  And as seen in the Yasaka Shrine case, there have been increased confrontations with “culturally disrespectful” tourists.

The flip side is that there are people eager to take offense and capitalize on confrontation.

“CULTURAL DIFFERENCES” USED AS A WEAPON

In 2019, this column wrote about how Halloween in Shibuya was a target of “Xeno-Scapegoating”, where drinking in public was somehow portrayed as an imported problem.  Yes, despite Japan being the origin of “cosplay,” the seasonal festivals and outdoor partying, entertainment sectors in every Japanese city, and the lack of open container laws, Shibuya Mayor Ken Hasebe made that argument with a straight face when he banned all festivities in 2023.

He could because whenever foreigners are proximate to a problem, they tend to get blamed for it.  

Why?  Because of cultural conceits about “unique Japan.”  If Japan is different from everywhere else in the world, foreigners must axiomatically have “different manners” (or they wouldn’t be foreign).  So “cultural differences” are seen as an inevitable source of problems wherever foreigners congregate.

But there are people who take advantage of this dynamic:  bullies.  They exist in every society, but are especially powerful in Japan because of the general avoidance of confrontation.  They get a freer hand to push people around because fewer people push back.

Bullies generally prey on the vulnerable, so they especially like to push foreigners around.  After all, foreigners are supposed to be “guests” (not residents) while Japanese are their “hosts,” so the former occupies a lower rung on the social ladder.  (If you doubt that, consider how it is official policy in Japan’s civil service to not grant administrative jobs to foreigners, expressly because they would have authority over Japanese.  They must remain subordinate.)

This makes foreigners, not to mention Japan’s Visible Minorities (Japanese citizens who do not “look Japanese”), an easy target.  Allow me to illustrate.  

Last month I was lined up waiting for a taxi in front of Tokyo Station, and just as a cab pulled up for me, some pushy middle-aged guy jumped the line and took it.  When I told him in Japanese that I was in fact next, he cursed me out, shouting that I should speak “proper Japanese” (peppered with a few “omae”s to establish dominance).  So I obliged, telling him in “proper Japanese” to get bent and eat shite.  Clearly not used to being challenged by the likes of me, he shut up, took my cab anyway and fumed as the door closed.  I got the next cab and got on with my day.

Now, if any culture-policing Karen at Yasaka Shrine had been filming that, they would have seen people in line apologizing to me.  I also looked over the crowd and saw no hairy eyeballs on me, so clearly they had seen his queue jumping too. 

But the lesson I took from this incident is this:  The bully chose the foreign-looking guy as the spot to jump the queue, thinking he could get away with it.  And he kinda did.  

Now consider what happens when these bullies think they can empower themselves as Culture Police as part of the “overtourism” backlash.

FROM ENFORCEMENT OF THE RULES TO MAKING UP YOUR OWN RULES

Live in Japan long enough and you’ll probably encounter the Culture Police.  They’re essentially the people wanting foreigners to “get off their lawn.”  Of course, all of Japan is their lawn and they consider themselves the arbiter of “the Japanese Way.”  

They’re in parks enforcing arbitrary rules like telling you not to eat in public or talk loudly in foreign languages.  Or they’re gruffly sorting through your garbage bags on Gomi Day assuming foreigners can’t follow the rules.  Or drunkenly giving you a piece of their mind on the street regarding something they’ve taken an instant dislike to, such as your not walking on the correct side of the sidewalk or daring to date a Japanese.  

Some of these weirdos take their policing role quite literally.  There have been cases of people masquerading as uniformed cops to demand foreigners’ ID and get their private details, which is one reason why the government rendered that info invisible on Gaijin Cards.

Usually it’s best to ignore these Karens.  But sometimes you can’t, especially when they swarm online.

Yasaka Shrine is an excellent case in point.  It’s one thing for Fujino to point out somebody’s social faux pas, then accept their apologies in good faith.  It’s a completely different matter to film them and vindictively upload it for millions to see, encouraging doxxing, destroying Sherlock’s livelihood and terrorizing his family.

But the online swarm went even further, calling their shrine visit a “desecration” (fukei), and advocating criminal prosecution under Penal Code Article 188 with 6 months imprisonment and a 100,000 yen fine.  So if they didn’t drive Sherlock out of Japan, they could try to get him arrested.  

All this for ringing a bell too loudly. 

BULLYING CRYSTALIZING INTO BAD GOVERNMENT POLICY

But the overkill doesn’t stop there.  Riding the backlash to “overtourism,” people are already creating nutty policies that target foreigners.

Restaurants are charging higher “foreigner” prices and blaming it on Japan’s cheapening yen.  Local government officials are demanding an entry tax for foreign tourists at attractions.  The Osaka Governor and Himeji Mayor are currently considering a significant Gaijin Surcharge to enter their local castles.  Others have established “foreigner-only” buses and hotels.  

It only promises to get more amateurish.  For example, Remi Kimura, indicatively a “former volunteer guide who currently works in the social media content industry,” somehow got a one-off column published in the Japan Times on June 21 calling for an “arrival tax” on foreigners, to “dissuade some from coming to Japan while funding cultural preservation.”  

What was she basing this on?  She opens with how she went back to her hometown in the Japan Alps, finding a restaurant with “avocado toast” and “cold cuts and bread,” something she claimed “virtually no Japanese person would order.”  To her this was evidence that “tourism has transformed the places of my childhood.”

I’m not sure what she’s trying to preserve beyond her own personal preferences.  I found a charcuterie plate (rendered as such in katakana) at a local craft beer place in Tokyo Jinbocho.  I also found avocado sushi combos in a kaiten sushi restaurant in Engaru, all the way out in the Hokkaido outback.  

Photo:  Avocado on the menu:  Toriton restaurant, Engaru Town, untouristed Hokkaido, June 2024.

Neither place is overtouristed.  So Kimura is essentially blaming foreigners for Japanese tastes evolving when she wasn’t looking.  Get off my lawn!

“OVERTOURISM” COUNTERMEASURES ARE IN FACT WORSE THAN “JAPANESE ONLY” SIGNS

When I put this issue up on Debito.org last month, regular commenters had a lot to say.  One even made the case that Gaijin Surcharges (dual pricing systems, or nijuu kakaku sei) are actually worse than “Japanese Only” signs and rules outright excluding all foreigners.  

First, exclusions cost the company because they lose business.  On the other hand, overcharging foreigners rewards the company with more money.

Second, how will the dual pricing systems be enforced?  Will Foreign Residents have to produce their Gaijin Cards to prove their residency?  Will these ID checks, once unlawfully required by hotels at the behest of the police, now be expanded to regular shops nationwide?  Will Japan’s Visible Minorities also be forced somehow to prove their Japaneseness to get the “local” price?

Third, the pressure to change course disappears.  A “Japanese Only” sign not only invites public shame, it is in fact unconstitutional with lawsuits supporting its removal.  A Gaijin Surcharge is a lot more sustainable and probably harder to challenge in court, especially if the government is behind it.  

So financial incentives are there to make things more expensive for foreigners only nationwide, including those working here and getting paid in Japanese yen like any other Japanese.  The social hierarchies that already force “foreigners” onto a lower social rung are now fostering an economic apartheid.

CONCLUSION:  YOU WANTED THEM HERE.  NOW PROTECT THEM.

The utter irony behind this situation is that, again, Japan wanted tourists to save Japan’s economy.  Now that they’re here doing so, they’re getting punished.  Local governments are succumbing to vocal xenophobes and coming up with discriminatory policies.

Foreign Residents and Visible Minorities are also getting caught in the backlash.  What’s happening to Joshua Sherlock’s family is not just Cultural Karenism.  It’s outright terrorism.   

Japan has for nearly three decades already refused to protect foreigners against racial discrimination despite international treaty promises.  Not protecting them from the “overtourism” bullies is similar negligence.  

What should be done?

First, let’s create an official definition of “overtourism” that doesn’t encourage foreigner bashing and racial profiling.  Have it show some nuance that reflects the fact that plenty of tourists are Japanese citizens and Foreign Residents too.

Second, develop suitable infrastructure to accommodate incoming foreign tourists.  If that means siphoning off numbers to more outlying attractions, make that possible and do the groundwork to prepare locals for any anticipated language and cultural barriers.

Third, bring in qualified tourism experts.  Not the “get off my lawn” Cultural Karens with an aversion to avocado.  From what I’ve witnessed, the “overtouristed” places are already doing a pretty good job.  Get their advice on how to protect our “guests” as good “hosts” should.  

Above all, stop blaming the tourists for doing what you asked them to do—come here and enjoy themselves.  Yes, tourists can be more respectful and mannerly.  But make those rules, norms, and manners clear, and enforce them gently but firmly.

And do it quickly.  Japan’s cultural hypersensitivity is already a source of overseas humor.  Last month The Onion ran a satirical article entitled, “Tourist Immediately Breaks 34 Sacred Local Customs While Deboarding Airplane,” where an American “within 30 seconds of unbuckling his seat belt at the gate, had unknowingly violated countless unwritten rules that inhabitants of Japan had observed for thousands of years.”  

Tourists can always take their money elsewhere. After decades of effort to get them here, don’t let Japan’s Cultural Karens, bullies, and xenophobes spoil things for everyone.

ENDS

======================
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18 comments on “Debito’s SNA VM column 57: “Overtourism as racism” (July 1, 2024). Most media on too many foreign tourists in Japan ignores how xenophobes are using “overtourism” to bully foreigners. Debito.org even argues it’s producing discriminatory policies worse than “Japanese Only” signs!

  • The most hilarious thing is that they banned tourists from Gion, because they have been taking poctures of Geisha‘s without permission, but a J Karen following and filming a group of NJ, which is definitely illegal, is perfectly fine of course. Also, I‘ve never heard of ringing the bells „too loudly“ at a shrine. My ex actually used to scold me for ringing them too silently and encouraged me to ring them more loudly if I want to be heard by the „gods“. This is just another made up „rule“ in order to have an excuse to harass NJ.

    He should sue her for illegally filming him and literally ruining his business.

    Reply
  • All the Japanese side-eyes, self appointed Karens, discriminatory pricing, racist navel-gazing about ‘our culture’🙄, PLUS the weak ¥, and yet Japan predicts it will fall short of its 2040 NJ worker target by ONE MILLION people!
    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2024/07/04/japan/japan-foreign-worker-shortage/
    What they gonna do? The slave trade is over. They can’t invade the neighbors and conscript service staff.
    Japan needs to up its game and quit with the pearl clutching and casual-racism-as-culture.

    Reply
    • from that article: “But with hurdles including the yen’s weakening, conventionally low wages and human rights issues, Japan has to ramp up its efforts to stay competitive in the global race for talents, experts have said”

      Human Rights issues? Japan? This is really damning. Hardly what one expects from a G7 country. In fact, surely a requirement for being in the G7, witness Russia getting kicked out for similar reasons.

      What Human Rights? An oldie but a goodie:
      ” the Mauritian delegate commented on the lack of transparency in Japan’s justice system, describing it as “medieval”. And furthermore, that Japanese criminal proceedings needed to meet international standards.
      Ambassador Ueda made his rebuttal to this, saying:

      “Certainly, Japan is not in the middle age. We are one of the most advanced country [sic] in this field.”

      Its also revealing why this exchange happened which is sooo GoJ modus operandi= disingenuity

      “But because the Japanese delegation continued to brush them off with disingenuous responses, the members were getting frustrated.”

      https://soranews24.com/2013/06/14/stop-laughing-shut-up-japans-human-rights-envoy-loses-his-temper-at-the-un/

      Japanese envoy loses temper because pesky foreigners will no longer buy into his meaningless BS tatemae, is the new takeaway of this. The J-jig is up.

      Reply
  • Overtourism is a difficult one to be contextualized in Japan. as an Italian I can testify the effects of prolonged overtourism in Venice and Florence, partially Rome: residents leave, everything becomes B&B, souvenir shops, expensive low quality tourist restaurants, overcrowded roads, garbage everywhere, the cities become denaturalized/dead/only attractions.
    In the last 6-7 years we are having airplanes flying low altitude in the skies of Tokyo because Haneda is overflowing, noise, pollution. Somebody mentioned in your post about Tokyo Station bully overtourism is a consequence of growing population on this planet. (something like migratory fluxes). I agree.
    I believe that it is a risky approach to promote your country to attract as many tourists as possible to try and get economic benefit of it: you cash in but you pay a very high toll on your nature and cities.
    then yes, as I wrote, overtourism in Japan is creating the new stereotype non Asian looking person = inbound tourist. when you go somewhere you can hear Japanese commenting “lately there are many tourists!” even if you have been here 25 years.
    So it is going to be interesting how they will try and regulate overtourism without getting anti liberal… silly entry fees, (in Venice didn’t make any impact), double prices.
    I think we will see more and more cases like the Kyoto Sherlock incident for sure.

    Reply
    • I agree with pretty much everything you wrote, especially the last part.
      Only just yesterday, the husband (?) of a middle-aged couple walking along the street behind my wife and I suddenly farted up next to me to check my wife’s nationality, before ducking back to report loudly to his wife (?) that ‘she’s Japanese’.
      I imagine that since I was brazenly walking along the street speaking English like any other tax-paying resident instead of meekly and timidly obsessing over potential unintentional ‘cultural slights’ that I narrowly avoided a public dressing down and lecture on ‘proper behavior’.🙄

      Reply
      • I guess they let you off as you’re with your J minder/guarantor.

        Apparently they can tell the difference between Japanese, Koreans and Chinese at a glance. Well, my GF being half Chinese though born in Japan with a Japanese name, guess they’d not guess that one.

        Needless to say, she keeps that side of her heritage a secret. I am the only one who actually calls her by her Chinese name. In private, when no one is listening.

        Years ago, I foolishly told a student of mine to be proud of her heritage, so she declared she was half Chinese and a Japanese man laughed at her, “what?!!”

        Lesson learnt.

        Reply
      • You should have responded, “Chugokujin desu ka?”

        (though maybe your partner wants a quiet life without the constant confrontation that characterizes mine- basically if I am not being paid to behave otherwise I do not timidly tiptoe around afraid of committing cultural slights if they go against dubiously asserted cultural norms that are in fact not normal).

        Reply
      • This morning I was watching TV Asahi 8:00 morning show which opened the program talking about foreign tourists leaving garbage around Kyoto by showing sneak videos & pictures.
        It is silly banal the way the TV portraits NJ (tourists or not)
        the pure essence of racial stereotype.
        -talking loud, making noise
        -leaving garbage every where
        -drinking publicly
        -in time of natural disaster (2011) they get blamed to do looting

        All things done by Japanese but conveniently blamed on NJ.
        with this influx of foreign, non Asian tourists, it is becoming their comfort stereotype blanket to engage their porcupine racist mode.
        yes good luck with 60 Millions tourists and 1+ million workers.

        Reply
    • I see where you’re coming from with this. In my experience, people in places crowded with tourists tend to be hostile everywhere around the world.

      The issue, in the case of Japan, is that the problem of “overtourism” is entirely racialised. Anytime a minority does something bad, it’s because of a “cultural difference”, not because a) the individual is simply being obnoxious/antisocial or b) their behaviour is being misrepresented (i.e. the horror of NJ drinking canned chuhai in Shibuya, already one of the most crowded areas imaginable).

      And when a J person does something bad, it says nothing about society at large (as if most NJ haven’t had their share of prejudiced bs about how a lot of foreigners mean “bad public order” or been told by someone to be quiet when speaking at a normal level). If things go really well, the J person might get excused. After all, it’s difficult for restaurant owners to have customers speak some foreign language at restaurants (and assume they can’t speak Japanese), Kyoto residents have NJ ring bells loudly and NJ trying to take the same buses as regular people just trying to get to work. To shockingly many people, presenting the mere existence of people somehow different as an inconvenience seems to be completely acceptable.

      I agree with you on how the stereotype is changing. Not only are NJ-looking people never members of society, now most of them are only here to cause trouble by not understanding the unique and complex local customs. The media has been doing their bit in feeding the flames of xenophobia as well.

      Reply
      • Well the media (both foreign and Japanese) loves the myth that Japan is „unique and complex“ (80% of culture imported from China, but let‘s ignore that) and only Japanese people born in Japan can understand it. Even if you‘re Japanese but born overseas, or have been living overseas for a longer time, you‘ll lose some part of your „Japaneseness“ and you‘ll never be on equal footing as a „regular“ J oyaji, because you have been tainted by „gaijin culture“ and you‘ll never understand „true Japanese culture“.

        NJ tourists and residents doing normal things like praying at a shrine and taking a bus is now a problem. It‘s not even about NJ tourists not respecting unwritten rules like not eating or talking on the phone on a train. Or doing something outrageous like peeing in the streets.

        Back in the day an NJ had to legit do something „bad“ or even illegal to get the attention of the news (and even then it’s racist to assume that all foreigners are „bad“, just because an NJ doesn‘t know how to behave) but now just existing as a visible minority is enough to get harassed and get onto the news.

        Yeah, good luck attracting 60 million tourists and 1 million workers.

        Reply
        • Yeah, its a far cry from the oft repeated “Japanese will make allowance for NJs because they don’t know the unspoken cultural norms”-

          instead, seems hypersensitivity and aggressive altercations are becoming more frequent.

          This is downright threatening, the group surrounds hum, telling him to die and demanding money….for riding a bike

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-w9Z8RkPt0

          Reply
      • most of them are only here to cause trouble by not understanding the unique and complex local customs.

        Most of them?
        Here to cause trouble? Here for tourism, surely.
        The Unique customs? Like, “Ramen Culture?” “Four Unique Seasons?” (groan)

        Geisha in Gion aside, its only unique because it is perceived as such by the Nihonjinron Narrative.

        Westerners exoticized Japan as a brand since Oscar Wilde’s time (“there is no such place”) but if you live there you soon realize that there is NO deep meaning, things ARE as they appear. Its just that
        1. you the Westerner can’t accept its so simple and basic because your society stopped doing things that way a long time ago
        and
        2. Japanese who believe it is actually unique, thus the “Unique Four Seasons” schtick, which is probably only unique in SE Asia, C/F Singapore, and I would dispute Japan has four seasons anyway, but hey, Japan is “Unique” right? It wants to be placed in its own region, not lumped in with other markets (NE Asia, SE Asia etc).

        Unfortunately for certain businesses it’s shrinking market size does not justify such special treatment.

        Kind of like the ultimate Snowflake, writ large. Unique….just like everyone else!

        Reply
  • Also, since the 80s at least, I’ve lost count of the number of books about Japan that have described being a Japanophile as being a one-sided love; NJ go to live and work in Japan because (in the majority) they have a genuine (if often ill-informed) respect for and curiosity about Japan. And yet Japan has overwhelmingly treated them as objects of curiosity at best, and a threat at worst.
    And remember, these are the NJ that commited to Japan for the long term because they thought good things about Japan. Most of them didn’t stay when the scales fell from their eyes.
    It should be no wonder that attracting the less invested in Japan NJ tourists en masse, that the Japanese feel extremely dissatisfied to put it politely.
    But what did they expect to happen?
    The weak ¥ is about paying off the national debt, not attracting tourists, but the J-Govt can’t ADMIT that.

    Reply
    • JDG, that was my experience in Japan. Its Karma for Japan; they mistreated, belittled, or even abused starry eyed NJs and trainees who idolized Japan in the 80s and 90s, taking advantage of those on the trainee program in particular, for their best years then spitting them out to paraphrase Debito, so they leave as detractors of Japan. Often they were paid less for the honor of being here.

      Now they are getting what they have sown, i.e. hoards of tourists who have only a passing interest or simply are here because conversely its cheap, i.e. Japan is paying for the honor of tourists visiting.

      Reply
  • “They’re essentially the people wanting foreigners to “get off their lawn.”

    I am grinning as I read this…I have retired from Japan and live in the Philippines. In Japan, and as I do now,

    I begin every morning with a long hike. A couple of years back, in Japan, I finished my 85 minute seaside hike, wet a towel, removed my shirt and began wiping myself down on a very hot August morning. The time was about 6:52 a.m., nobody was around, and I was on a secluded side street in Akashi-city west of Kobe. All of a sudden, a man comes out of his house, and tells me in Japanese, “You are on my property.”

    Now, at the time I was hmmm, a bearded 62 year old..not a threat to the social polity. I look down at my feet, and see that my foot was about 2 cm on the border between his driveway, and the street. I moved my foot 2 cm, and went back to wiping myself down.

    Would he have said this if I was Japanese?

    He, wife and kids got in the car, and continued to stare at me. I am from Detroit, and know how to deal with stares. Stare at me all you like, just don’t get in my face.

    I am sorry for the length here, but 2 years in the Philippines has shown me how extremely xenophobic Japan really is! A few months back, in the middle of my morning hike, I rested on the railing of a house and took a sip from my thermos. A middle aged woman comes out of the house. Does she say, “hey foreigner get off my property?”

    Quite the opposite, “Today, my birthday. You come in. Eat cake. Drink coffee.”

    I changed my shirt, entered the house, and sat doubt with a bunch of Philippine obasans and had a nice breakfast.

    Moreover, the hoards visiting Japan are from China, Korea, Taiwan, and places that have had a historical HATRED toward Japan. I visited Korea much in the 80’s and the enmity was palpable. The Japanese govt and its apparatchiks should be grateful for the abatement in hostility. The present reaction is inappropriate, almost shocking

    Reply
  • Irony alert!
    It’s the old socially conservative right-wing NJ-phobes who are (as with all their problems in Japan) actively contributing to the NJ ‘over tourism’ that they are complaining about (in addition to, y’know, decades of voting for a party that has continually failed to address every meaningful issue whilst offering elderly voters panaceas about ‘something, something, Japan!’ Nihonjinrongiron rubbish).
    This time it’s because the government have changed NISS investment rules, meaning that millions of ¥ are being sold to buy $, devaluing the ¥ by on average 1¥ per month against the $ and making it even cheaper for NJ to visit whilst contributing to overall inflation for Japanese people.
    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/business/2024/07/11/markets/new-nisa-weak-yen/

    Japan’s worst enemy? Japanese old people and their ‘apres nous, les deluge’ fatalism.

    Reply

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