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Racism In Japan 2008/2/6 02:22
Hi there, my boyfriend and I have been planning a trip to Japan for a while, but have recently discovered that there seems to be a lot of racism in Japan and that the authorities don't care.It seems a lot of shops/onsen, especially in smaller towns don't admit non-Japanese, even if you are a Japanese citizen.How common is this? I really don't want to find myself in a situation where I'm being told to leave and don't really understand what's being said, (even though i do speak some Japanese) and I have no tolerance for race-related exclusion. Since we will mainly be travelling to large cities, I hope this won't be much of a problem, but I'd like to hear from other people's experiences please.
by Heather  

... 2008/2/6 10:49
You are reading too much!

I have lived in Japan for years and never experienced any serious racism. To the opposite: being a foreigner often gets you better treatment.

Then again, it depends on your definition of "racism". There are quite some naive people from multicultural societies who have rather strange definitions of "racism".

Japan has a 99% Asian looking population. If you do not look Asian, you will stick out and will be treated differently in many occasions. It is the same in any similarly homogeneous society.

If you go there with realistic expectations, a positive attitude, a basic knowledge about local manners and a considerate behavior, you will likely be overwhelmed by the Japanese people's politeness and friendliness and experience no racism, at all. Positive attitude is most important. On the contrary, if you look for confrontation, you will find it.
by Uji rate this post as useful

you won't have any problems 2008/2/6 13:45
It isn't really true to say that Japan has "a lot of shops/ onsen that don't accept foreigners"- it is actually a very tiny percentage. I have never been refused entry to any shop or onsen in the 10 years I have been in Japan. (I am a Caucasian female).

There is a hostess bar I walk past on the way to work which has a sign saying "We do not accept foreign customers unless they come with Japanese friends" (if you have been looking at then you might have seen a photo of it) but I am not remotely interested in going into that bar, so it doesn't bother me!

Don't worry about this too much. You are extremely unlikely to encounter this kind of racism on your travels, conversely you will probably encounter a lot more kindness and hospitality than you had expected.
by Sira rate this post as useful

The "shops and onsen" 2008/2/6 18:17
Most racism in Japan simply comes from ignorance and unfortunate experiences.

For example, at the onsen area where Debito went, there had been many ill-mannered foreign sailors using the bath, and therefore owners decided to simply shut out all foreign people. Where there were a lot of ill-mannered Japanese visitors from a certain Japanese region, they simply shut out all people from that region.

Not that these incidents can be excused at all, but in other words, most people in Japan have had good experiences or no experiences with foreign people, so they are nice to foreign people just like any human being would be. They would even tolerate the mistakes you may make from being unfamiliar to Japan. And in other words, your good manners will be appreciated by foreign visitors who shall come here after you.
by Uco rate this post as useful

You will enjoy 2008/2/6 18:26
I spent 9 years in Japan as a Sailor and 3 as a civilian. I only encountered minor racism while there. Japan is a wonderful place, and I wouldn't hesitate to go back and visit. The further away you are from the military bases, the friendlier the people are. I've gone into bars hand the owner just started pouring my drinks up and didn't even charge (rare). I've met strangers that invited my and my family over for dinner... Study the culture a little, try to learn some of the basic words in Japanese, and go over and enjoy the experience. The sushi there is 10 times better than in the states. For me, their cheap sushi restaurants are better than some of the best sushi restaurants here in the states. Great Food!

What are you waiting on!!! Go!
by oishiichocolate4u rate this post as useful

Thank you 2008/2/6 19:42
Thanks guys, you've put my mind at ease about this. I was just very worried I'd go places and get turned away, when really all I want to do is experience Japanese culture.I asked my Japanese language teacher about this too. She's from Osaka and she said she's never seen anywhere that won't let in foreigners (although I don't think she's lived there for 30-odd years...). Just so long as I can relax in an onsen I'll be happy:)
by Heather rate this post as useful

Chinese 2008/2/6 20:32
There is still racism or ill feeling toward's chinese .I got it from my Japanese friend's when I first started a relastionship with my Chinese partner .
When I return to Japan , I wonder
what people will think and treat her and my children
by John2u rate this post as useful

China and South Korea 2008/2/6 23:46
China and South Korea are the two exceptional countries that Japan has very complex feelings against. Generally speaking, a lot of people tend to have negative views when they start talking about history and politics, while a lot of people tend to have positive views when they talk about pop entertainment and food. The same thing can be said about Chinese or Korean people viewing the Japanese. Kids are generally treated as kids wherever they go.
by Uco rate this post as useful

so i heard... 2008/2/7 01:03
i'm not saying this is widely true but... I've heard the trend goes that if you're just visiting in Japan, you're a guest and very welcomed. However, trouble seems to come when you try to live in Japan and get your own place to stay.

I can't say whether I believe this or not... I have a Japanese first and last name so maybe that's why... but i think it depends where you are in Japan as well. Tokyo is a special exception of Japan... it might as well be it's own country. Like the difference between New York City and Dallas and then San Francisco. Each place in Japan has it's own perks and downsides and unique qualities. I'd say that Tokyo is much more open to foreigners simply because of all the tourists it attracts.
by Miyuki rate this post as useful

same 2008/2/7 09:51
"I've heard the trend goes that if you're just visiting in Japan, you're a guest and very welcomed. However, trouble seems to come when you try to live in Japan and get your own place to stay."

I've traveled all over the world and lived in other countries and find that this is universal. If it's a visitor you're facing you think, "I want to show this person all the nice things about my town. I want to help this person bring good memories to the person's homeland." and when it's a resident you think, "This person is living her and still haven't learned the rules? How long is this person going to live like this?!"
by Uco rate this post as useful

.. positive attitude & good manner .... 2008/2/7 12:13
I am a frequent traveler. I believe irrespective of your nationality/race, a positive attitude and good manner always help wherever you go. If the locals are being treated more attentively either in the restaurants or in other establishments, are we not also being treated better in our home country than the overseas visitors?
by tju rate this post as useful

. 2008/2/7 13:06
I don't even know the website ^^

Only place I encountered so far where there was a no foreigners-sign was a small Sushi restaurant in Tsukiji. Since there were severl others to pick from and this one didn't seem to be special in any way, I didn't really care. I made a photo of the sign though, just because on a sign next to it it said no photos. ^^
by Haf rate this post as useful

Racism 2008/2/7 16:14
I've been to Japan 6 times since 1996, and have never encountered a slightest hint of racism, and i don't look asian at all (6'3" male with beard, and red hair).
I have encountered Japanese who've frequently gone out of their way to assist me.
Enjoy your trip and don't worry about an issue that really doesn't exist at a significant level.
by Philip rate this post as useful

I agree with above 2008/2/7 20:24
Each time I went to Japan it was fantastic and I stuck out like a sore thumb , I only met one very rude man ,but may have been in a hurry.
My Japanese friends told me their feelings towards Chinese came from their parents and they knew it was wrong , but thats how they felt . I guess it was a way of saying sorry .
One the other side , my wife does not like me having too much to do with Japanese , mainly because I go weak at kness when I meet a nice Japanese Lady.
But I've been there , glad to be finished . Too many come with the idea a marriage solve their problems. And they have no idea what a european is like.
I sure there must be great marriages between us , but I have not seen any I would trade for.
One great regret I have in my life is that I did not go to Japan earlier , it takes a long time to know a country or woman .
I did not seek love this time , but with the years it has come.
by John2u rate this post as useful

not an issue 2008/2/8 07:07
I've been to Japan twice. I never felt any racism or rudeness or anything remotely resembling either. In fact, I felt extremely welcome. Especially when we visited small towns and/or "touristy" areas in the off season. If anything, people were a little frustrated because they wanted to know about me and where I was from but I know little Japanese & they knew little English. But we tried to communicate! It was interesting trying to have a conversation with an 80 year old man in the onsen when you both speak little of the others language!
Like others have said, read up on Japanese customs, learn some basic words & phrases and be respectful and you will be well received.
by cf rate this post as useful

Not really any racism that sticks out. 2008/2/8 07:33
I'm a Japanese American that went to Japan recently and people there are actually quite helpful.

The only problem I've had was with this one restaurant in Osaka where before entering the restaurant, you would have to buy food tickets before entering the shop.

We didn't know this and were sitting at a table for a long time and no one came to help us or tell us that we were supposed to buy a food ticket by the door.

In America, food tickets aren't very common so we were waiting for some waitress. I don't know if I should call this "rude" or
"unhelpful." Maybe it's just a cultural difference but it was embarrassing.
by Michn rate this post as useful

what an attitude! 2008/2/8 08:55
Michn, it is beyond me how you can accuse others of rudeness when you are at fault. People should have a more modest attitude when visiting foreign countries.
by Uji rate this post as useful

just an embarrassing experience 2008/2/8 10:15
Hmm, it's very unlike the usual reasonable Uji that he jumps to conclusions like this. Maybe he forgot to have his morning coffee. Michn clearly mentioned that this is probably not "rudeness". Perhaps "inconvenience" is the word.

Btw, waiters usually tell you you need food tickets. A lot of locals fail to notice the ticket machine too. But in places where there are food tickets, often the waiters are inexperienced part-timers who fail to provide prompt information.
by Uco rate this post as useful

... 2008/2/8 10:19
Yes, I am sorry. I did not have my Ripobitan D yet.
by Uji rate this post as useful

honestly 2008/2/8 16:09
okay, if you think theres too much racism in Japan, you might be taught so through some hate-campaign-kind-of video on youtube or something.. I am not saying there is no racism in Japan (unfortunately there are some, like any other nations) but its not the kind of things you need to worry about upon your arrival. I know that in SOME places, they dont allow foreigners to come in or some owners dont allow them to rent their place, but the issue here is not so much about race i think. Just like someone above said, they put signs like ''No foreigners allowed'' because they have either previously experienced a lot of horrible experiences with them or the owners are afraid of making complicated housing contract with someone who cannot possibly speak Japanese. So as i see it, racism in Japan is not so much about your race and its nothing hostile. For instance, Japanese people would never ever call names at you on a street like i have experienced in some
Now, I gotta be honest..when it comes to Chinese people, some people in Japan seem to have a bit of different emotions. I think that most Japanese people are fond of Korea now that their pop culture is really popular in Japan and a lot of ppl are influenced. But i see more conflicts between Japan and China. this is due to political and historical stuff.. Also media seems to have gone extreme these days.. But again, the more and more tourists are coming from China and im sure Japanese people would treat them nicely with their great hospitality.

anyway, wherever you are coming from, don't worry about racism here. Hope youll have a great trip!
by gen rate this post as useful

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