In 2019, it was 31.88 million inbound visitors and counting. This year, Japan has set the target of 40 million. So naturally, owners of hotels and golf country clubs should be ecstatic over the coming windfall, right?
Well, some may be. But others, reports Shukan Gendai (Jan 25) are finding that foreign visitors are just a little to eager to avail themselves of amenities.
Like this operator of a famous old ryokan in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture.
"We had a cute ceramic tanuki (raccoon dog) figure at the main entrance," said the female boss. "It stood 40 cm high and weighed about 5 kilograms. I'd heard about the pilferage problem at a nearby ryokan, so I moved the figure to the genkan, where I though it would be safe. But it wasn't. On that day, all the guests had been foreigners, so I suppose one of them made off with it."
Nobuaki Takizawa, a hotel critic, stayed in a different hotel for every day in 2019. While on the move, he undertook a survey in which he asked hotel management about whether cases of pilferage by customers had increased of late.
The manager of one, in Uji City, Kyoto, told him that it was common for yukata (a cotton garment worn when sleeping) and hair dryers were the most likely items to vanish.
"They cost about 3,000 yen each," he sighed. "We've also lost a decorative hanging scroll and a vase, and even futon bedding. The vase was worth 10,000 yen and the scroll about 30,000 yen. "I've requested the travel agency that booked the guests to ask them to return it, but nothing happened."
That's not to say that ill-mannered or inconsiderate Japanese guests don't also exist. Actually they have been known to help themselves to towels, cosmetics, hairbrushes and so on. But foreigners seem to have outdone them by a considerable margin.
"They take ashtrays and drinking cups," says Takizawa. "One even tried to take a hairdryer that was fastened to the wall to discourage removal, by cutting the power cord. But that caused a short, and started a small fire, which generated quite a bit of excitement."
One hotel in the Nikko area was able to reduce pilferage by offering items similar to those placed in its rooms in the hotel gift shop.
"The biggest losses we've incurred so far have been loaned smartphones, which the guests fail to return when they leave," said an employee at a hotel in Tokyo's Marunouchi district.
The room maid at a certain business hotel was shocked when she went in to clean and found the room's mini refrigerator gone.
At pricier facilities, it's common for pillows valued at 30,000 yen to be carried off, concealed in the departing guest's suitcase.
At the Tokyu Inn at Chubu International Airport, a Chinese couple actually made off with the room's remote-controlled washlet-type toilet seat. Management, unwilling to take such an extreme theft lying down, actually summoned the police, who tracked down the couple and confronted them. They apologized and returned it, claiming, "We thought it had been left behind by a previous guest."
The Niseko ski resort in Hokkaido has been playing host to growing numbers of guests from China, Hong Kong, Australia, Taiwan and South Korea. From 50,000 during 2011, the number has catapulted to 210,000 in 2018.
A staff member involved in ski equipment rentals complained that more skis have been disappearing.
"When I ask them what happened, they tell me, 'Somebody else made off with them.' We've been using the PA system in English and Chinese to request people be more careful, but it's had no effect at all."
Japan-based Chinese journalist Zhou Laiyou explains that under communism, many Chinese developed the attitude that objects were things to be shared.
"In China, when hotel guests help themselves and carry off the fixtures, they are seldom punished," Zhou points out. "And the guests often won't concede so if confronted it turns into a nasty shouting match."
But recently the Chinese government has become concerned over the poor reputation of Chinese overseas travelers. Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, more efforts are being made to encourage them to mind their manners and conform to internationally acceptable norms."© Japan Today