In today’s Japan times there is an article on page 13 entitled “Racism is bad business.” It addresses the issue of foreigners being barred entry to certain Japanese establishments and how this hurts international business in Japan. Over my 3 years in Japan I have seen many articles and pieces devoted to this issue and I would like to get some feedback from you other Japan ex-pats out there. We all know that racism is not good but for the sake of sport, I would like to argue against all this whining from ex-pats about the racism issue. So without further delay let’s start the debate.
I have never experienced being barred from any Japanese establishments (of course I lived in Tokyo and it may differ in the countryside) and I’m tired of all this ex-pat whining. Japan is a homogenous country and they have very specific customs and rules of behavior that most foreigners cannot understand. Most of us ex-pats are good hard working people and try to understand Japan from the inside. But then you have the other type of “gaijin” like in Shibuya or Roppongi that are extremely shady and are suspect. If I was Japanese I would bar these people too.
Further, I (like many of us) got my start in Japan teaching English. We used to go to Watami, get extremely drunk and make a wreck of the place. Some gaijins commented that many of us go crazy because we are not in our home country and think that acceptable forms of behavior no longer apply. There were food fights, vegetarians that gave the waiters hell if they could not understand that they wanted their salads with no bacon bits and got angry when the food came with a bit of meat, and drunkards spilling their beers all over the place. I’ve noticed that the Japanese do not resort to this type of behavior no matter how drunk they are. Just go to any of the foreigner areas in Tokyo and you’ll be sure to see a gaijin making a mess of himself.
Most Japanese in the countryside do not know how to deal with foreigners and a few bad apples have spoiled it for the rest of us. I think that on the overall and circumstances being what they are here in Japan, the Japanese do a very good job of hosting the foreigner. Sure there are hard times and I too have been rejected from many apartments because I was a foreigner. But once you learn the ropes of dealing with the Japanese and speak the language, many of these obstacles dissapear into thin air. Don’t get me wrong, I almost lost my sanity a few times dealing with apartment rental and university life where they do not know how to deal with foreigners. But after being here for three years and learning the language, my life has become 300% easier. I think that if gaijins made more of an effort to understand Japan and the Japanese instead of trying to have Japan adjust to them, this racism stuff would ease up a bit.
The article lists a website at www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html that apparently catalogs pictures of foreigners being barred entry. Might be worth a look but not getting too angry over.