Jason Atsugiri is currently one of the hottest comedians on Japanese television. His “Why Japanese people?!” skit is so popular even kids who have zero English skills have mastered imitating his staged outbursts.
Because of that, when the comic tweeted about a possibly discriminatory remark he received at Tsukiji fish market during a shoot, Japanese netizens were surprised to see he didn’t lose his cool. Impressed, the post has been favorited and passed on by many, inspiring a much-welcomed discussion on how not to treat foreigners.
Atsugiri, whose real name is Jason Danielson, is an IT company employee who recently got his big comedic break with his sketch, “Why Japanese people?!”
Although he’s not the first foreigner to succeed at capturing the Japanese entertainment spotlight, only a handful of foreigners before him, like Patrick Harlan (Pakkun), have managed to do the same.
While filming on location at the famed Tsukiji market in Tokyo the other day, he had an unpleasant encounter with a Japanese man, which he then tweeted about.
“When I went to use the restroom while filming at Tsukiji Market, a man approached me from behind, telling me in an angry voice that it was ‘JAPANESE ONLY’, but quickly changed his tune, calling out, ‘Oh, he’s a TV personality,’ after I turned around.
At first I was irritated, but after mulling it over for a while, I began to think maybe they get a lot of foreign tourists who interfere with business and cause them a lot of trouble day after day.”
Unlike the Japanese language newbie character he plays in his sketch, Jason has been living here for over four years with his Japanese wife and two daughters. No doubt like many seasoned expats, he has no problems seeing things from the Japanese perspective.
Still, many netizens were surprised he didn’t respond with, “WHY JAPANESE ONLY?!” in light of the situation, and the Twitter post soon went viral and received many comments of support:
“He must be a saint.” “That guy sounds crazy, telling him ‘Japanese only’ even though he did nothing wrong.” “We apologize on that man’s behalf.”
However, a small group of concerned users, perhaps in defense of the man’s behavior, brought up the fact that some tourists have in fact caused disruptions at Tsukiji by climbing onto places they shouldn’t or licking the fish offered for sale (yes, you read that right!).
A number of other commenters, though, were quick to rejoin that in this case the ends didn’t justify the means, saying:
“I’m not saying it isn’t a problem, but surely there’s a better countermeasure than just suddenly being all Japanese only.” “They should have said staff only or something instead.” “It’s probably difficult for foreign tourists to understand all of Japan’s complicated manners or rules.”
All in all, you could definitely say this is one time where not having a meltdown definitely boosted his notoriety. And who knows, maybe if “Why Japanese people?!” gets old, this experience might inspire him to make some netizens happy and incorporate “Why Japanese only?!” in another sketch somewhere down the line.
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