Japan Today

Can a curry shop legally ban you if you don’t finish your rice? A Japanese lawyer chimes in

By Scott Wilson, SoraNews24

Banning visitors and customers from certain places is nothing new. We’ve seen Japan ban foreign tourists from shrines and rowdy people during Halloween, with varying levels of controversy.

But what about banning someone from a restaurant for simply not finishing their meal?

It’s the fear that everyone has at some point: you order food, get a free helping of rice, and then find yourself unable to finish most of the grains. Is it punishment enough to have to endure the glares of the chefs, or will there be more consequences?

Here’s the question as it specifically came up on NicoNico News:

College student Kenta went to a small curry restaurant in Tokyo, where rice is given for free, no matter the size. He ordered a large rice, but couldn’t finish it. The owner got upset at him, saying: “If you weren’t going to finish it, then why did you order the large? I don’t want customers like you to come here.” He then banned Kenta from the restaurant.

Kenta wanted to know if his ban was something that could be legally upheld or not. Similar to other times legal questions have come up on NicoNico News, like about the tattoo-ban at hot springs, a Japanese lawyer named Chie Terabayashi chimed in:

“Essentially, it is up to the restaurant to freely decide who they will and will not serve. However, in this case, before the restaurant gave the customer his large order of rice, they did not give any warning in advance that he would be banned if he did not finish it.

Without such warning, such a declaration afterward can be considered unfair under the civil law of principles of good faith, and rendered legally void.”

That sounds like a sensible explanation. If the restaurant is going to ban someone for certain behavior, then customers should at least be informed what those behaviors are beforehand.

But that brings another question: Does the restaurant have to inform customers of every behavior that could get them banned? If a customer smashes a plate against the wall or pees on the floor, could they get around a banning because the restaurant didn’t have a sign telling them not to?

The lawyer had this to say about that:

“It is not the case that the restaurant has to provide a warning for any and all behavior that would result in banning. For example, fighting in the restaurant, or breaking things on purpose go against social common sense. A ban for a customer who did these things would be legally upheld.”

They also ended with an alternative course for the restaurant and some final thoughts:

“If the restaurant limits their ban to just the large rice for that customer, that may be upheld. However, no matter what they do, the restaurant should understand that serving the large rice for free will result in some amount of customers not being able to finish it. Since that offering is a way to bring customers in, it seems contradictory to then ban customers who don’t finish, and will likely result in a bad reputation.”

That all seems like it makes sense. If the store is suffering monetary damage from a customer not finishing their rice, then they should raise the price. If they’re suffering emotional damage from seeing it wasted, then they should lower their portions and have customers order seconds if they want more. Either way, taking it out on the customer does not seem like a positive decision.

Interestingly enough, most Japanese netizens seemed to side with the restaurant on this one:

“The punishment for ordering a large and not finishing it should be death.”

“Before I say anything bad about the restaurant owner, I want to know why Kenta ordered a large.”

“More than just a waste, it’s a cost for the restaurant to dispose of it.”

“Wow, not finishing food you didn’t even pay for.”

“He just didn’t care because it was free.”

“I mean, would Kenta really want to go back there again?”

Controversy aside, that is a good point. Chances are, even if it is legal for Kenta to go back, having to endure the stink-eyes of the employees would probably have an effect on the taste of his food.

Source: NicoNico News via My Game News Flash

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japanese lawyer comments on legality of tattoo ban at hot springs, netizens share thoughts too

-- Japan’s most popular curry chain now has vegan soup curry, and it’s delicious【Taste test】

-- Stingy people rejoice as Japanese restaurants in New York introduce a ban on tipping

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

I cannot recall such an allowed discrimination anywhere in the world

I think the original statement assumed that any such decisions about whom to serve were within the law - in particular, no racial discrimination. But, for example, dress codes are not so unusual.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Simple solutions have already been offered. The repeated small bowls, for example. However, if "free" helpings of a dish are offered as enticement, restaurant owners realistically have to expect some abuse of the offer by a minority of customers. People are people and much of the time people exhibit all sorts of objectionable behavior. Alas, we can't ban them from life.

While it's a different situation entirely and I do my best, restaurants perhaps don't realize that it can be very difficult to finish all the food on the tray in Japan because it is routinely served in a set. In such an inflexible one-note-samba situation I can't skip the rice (which I don't like to eat as it's a carbohydrate without much nutritional value). I understand that it commands god-like reverence in Japan, but it does nothing for me. I'll eat (and enjoy) natto before I choose rice.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Besides the rice bowl story I noticed the following statement:

“Essentially, it is up to the restaurant to freely decide who they will and will not serve.

That is much more shocking. Apart from the apartheid time era in South Africa or USA I cannot recall such an allowed discrimination anywhere in the world.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What about doggie bags? Time to introduce them.

Made out of ... plastic??

I agree with the small bowl idea, and yes, eat what you ask for, as a matter of courtesy.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Call me old school but I order what I can eat and finish what is on my plate out of respect for everyone involved in making that meal from growing to prepping to cooking to serving. Just because you paid for it doesn't mean you should be allowed to disrespect the effort made. Even worse if given to you as 'service' or a gift. You just don't throw out perfectly good food.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Hopefully, Kenta pauses to reflect.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If people have paid for a portion then it is up to them what to do with it. It is not good to waste, but the restaurant owner is at fault for not charging extra.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Serve rice in small bowls with unlimited refills. If a small bowl of rice goes unfinished it is of less concern.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

People who waste food by design should be banned from eating!

I've seen plenty of such people, load their plates at the buffet and eat only a quarter of it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It does seem extreme and perhaps not a way to win the hearts and minds of the punters but it's down to the establishment.

I wouldn't go there, mind.

*Interestingly enough, most Japanese netizens seemed to side with the restaurant on this one:*

“The punishment for ordering a large and not finishing it should be death.”

Just knew this story came from Sora, when I read that particular quote.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

No curry for you!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The real question is, why would anyone want to go to a restaurant where the owner doesn't want them? If any restaurant owner talked to me like that, I would simply never come back or want to give them my business in any way. Plenty of places with good food and friendly service that are happy to take my money.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Do people know how much farmers struggle to grow rice?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

What about doggie bags? Time to introduce them.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites