Hokkaido Shinbun Sept 21, 1999, Morning Edition, Page 29

"This is unreasonable," says resentful Americans and other foreign Hokkaido residents who carried out a local survey.

SUMMARY: (Otaru City, Hokkaido) Foreign residents of Sapporo surveyed the service they got from large onsen [hot springs] bathing establishments in Otaru City. The results were that three out of four facilities refused entry to anyone but Japanese. The surveyers angrily responded, "Excluding us simply for being foreign is unreasonable". On the other hand, the onsens say, "It is not our intention to exclude foreigners per se, but if we let them in the Japanese customers will stay away."

TEXT: The surveyers were David Aldwinckle (34), a lecturer in a private university in Hokkaido, and Olaf Karthaus (36), a German assistant at a national university. There were also, including one other American man, a Chinese woman, and their families, a total of sixteen people participating.

The reason why they chose Otaru was that onsens in the area have a history of refusing service to foreigners.

On September 19, they tried to patronize the establishments, and asked for reasons why when they were refused service.

The establishments refusing had signs indicating "JAPANESE ONLY". The staff explained, "Foreigners do things like drink booze in the bath, and have such bad manners that we have had a lot of complaints from Japanese customers." After negotiations, out of three refusing onsen only one would let the surveyers in.

Aldwinckle says: "Because of a few offenders they are applying these rules to all foreigners. This is a dangerous idea." Karthaus echoed: "We have also seen cases like this in Wakkanai City, and I'm worried that this problem is spreading."

Aldwinckle et al. says that he will be putting these survey results on the internet and his homepage, and "I will want to look at other towns as well".

Otaru, which has a lot of Russian sailors using its port, has had problems in the past with their manners in bathhouses, and it does not look set to end.

Russia has a strong custom of drinking in the bath, but lots of Japanese customers tend to shy away from these partiers, and it has led to a series of foreign exclusions at the door for many bathing establishments. One manager said, "If lots of Japanese customers will stay away because of these people, whether or not to let foreigners in is a life-or-death decision for our business."

(Translation by David Aldwinckle)

NB: This article is, in a word, disappointing, as it makes the onsen case more convincing than ours, and leaves out a lot of important information (such as how they admitted the Chinese woman but turned away the Westerners, and how they effectively turned away our entire families--spouses and children--who are Japanese citizens).

Original Japanese text follows (for those with browsers who can read it):


 【小樽】札幌など道内在住の外国人たちが、小樽市内の大型温浴施設で外国人への 対応を調査した。それによると、訪れた四施設のうち三施設が日本人以外 の入浴を 断り、調査メンバーは「外国人というだけで排除するのは理不尽」と憤慨している。 一方、温浴施設側は「入浴拒否は本意ではないが、外国人を入れる と日本人客が離 れる」と苦しい胸の内を明かしている。

 調査を呼び掛けたのは、道内の私立大で講師を務める米国人のデビッド・アルドウ ィンクルさん(34)と国立大で助手を務めるドイツ人のオラフ・カートハウスさん( 36)。他の米国人男性と中国人女性やその家族を含め計十六人が参加した。

 小樽を選んだのは、以前から外国人の入浴を断る温浴施設が問題になっているため 。参加者は十九日、各施設に入場を試み、拒否された時点で説明を求めた。拒否した 施設は「Japanese only」などと掲示。従業員は「浴室で酒を飲むなど 一部のロシア人客の入浴マナーが悪く、日本人客から苦情が多かった」などと説明し た。拒否の三施設のうち、折衝の結果、入場を認めたのは一施設だけだった。

 アルドウィンクルさんは「一部のマナー違反を外国人すべてに当てはめるのは危険 な発想」と話し、カートハウスさんも「稚内などでも同様のケースが見られ、こうし た動きが広まらないか心配」と指摘する。

 アルドウィンクルさんらは独自に開設しているインターネットのホームページで調 査結果を掲載し、「今後、ほかの都市でも調査したい」と話す。

 ロシア人船員が多い小樽では以前から、温浴施設での入浴マナーでトラブルが絶え ない。ロシアでは浴場での飲酒などは当たり前の習慣というが、こうしたロシア人を 敬遠する日本人客が多く、外国人を当初受け入れていた温浴施設も相次いで入浴拒否 に転じた。ある施設の支配人は「外国人を入れることで、大多数の日本人客が離れれ ば死活問題」と話している。


「日本人だけ」と英語で書かれた看板を見て憤慨するアルドウィンクルさん(右)と カートハウスさん

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