Here
and
Now

kuchikomi

More larcenous foreign visitors vexing their Japanese hosts

27 Comments

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

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

27 Comments
Login to comment

I think it goes without saying that nearly 40 million foreign tourists will result in some bad behavior and non local ( new ) bad behaviors.

The article is heavily slanted toward Chinese tourists, who are infamous for their ways. Chinese are the flip opposite to Japanese and I get to ride the airport line everyday and be amused by the antics. Ultimately they bring billions to Japan and also promote interaction and goodwill. I think it’s worth it and a hotel probably needs them to exist in many cases . Sorry about the Tanuki Mrs Tanaka

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Family Ryokans will be hit hard by traveling Gypsies. Time for clear signs that room inventories will be conducted after they leave.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Require a credit card deposit and problem solved.

22 ( +22 / -0 )

Yep. Charge a security deposit for the value of items in the room.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

What about the excuse given by the tourists who stole the toilet seat?

They apologized and returned it, claiming, "We thought it had been left behind by a previous guest."

Sounds reasonable to me. We always pack a spare one, just in case the one in the room has been nicked by Chinese tourists.

18 ( +20 / -2 )

Bolt everything down with lock nuts.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

BigYen@ LOL!

I wonder what the operators of Japanese love hotels do. Their rooms are quite elegantly supplied, and normally the customers do not register. let along pay by credit card. I guess they just budget for a certain amount of pilferage into the room rate.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Having trouble wrapping my head around the idea of anyone stealing a toilet seat, although I have seen them missing from various restrooms.

I think it is not unusual to want to get something for nothing, but it is a sign of maturity to stop acting out in that way.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Aw, the Tanuki is probably just out looking for a Ms Tanuki... :)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The room maid at a certain business hotel was shocked when she went in to clean and found the room's mini refrigerator gone.

I've had inn owners tell us they always empty the mini-bar before Chinese guests check-in, as they would often take all the contents without reporting anything at checkout. But, at least they left the actual mini-bars.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

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,

I hope they sued that guest.

The room maid at a certain business hotel was shocked when she went in to clean and found the room's mini refrigerator gone.

I'll bet they took the ice cube trays too.

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."

Riiiiiiiiiiiiight!

Charge a security deposit for the value of items in the room.

That's not gonna cover the tanuki in the genkan.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

price tag everything, like Thailand, and take credit card deposits.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I’ll admit that I’ve stolen a yukata before. I actually went to the front desk and requested to buy it. The staff said that they couldn’t sell it and they didn’t have any for sale. However, they did say that if one went missing, it wouldn’t be a big concern for them and smiled. I took that as permission and packed it up in the morning. I still feel bad about it, but it was such a rarity: lime green and yellow tropical print!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Unfortunate but will get even worse during the Olympics.

It's these bad apples that do a disfavor to foreigners visiting Japan.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

but it was such a rarity: lime green and yellow tropical print!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

but it was such a rarity: lime green and yellow tropical print!

Maybe it had been left behind by a previous customer...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Japan always need something to whine about. You would think all foreigners ever do is bad things and all foreigners do bad things and Japanese never do any of the things listed. This country has a severe case of gaijin on the brain!

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Those tourists who stole the loo seat should have been arrested for theft.

As for thefts in general, isn't that why hotels in some countries require you to present your credit card at check-in? Of course, this is only full-proof if you know who did the stealing. I suggest they start doing this.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Japan always need something to whine about. You would think all foreigners ever do is bad things and all foreigners do bad things and Japanese never do any of the things listed. This country has a severe case of gaijin on the brain!

That's true.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I know a local lady who used to regularly steal airplane cutlery(the real stuff, before 9/11) on every flight she took. She had a huge collection and was very proud of it. She didn't think there was anything wrong with it. So lets not be so hard on the damn gaijin!

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Yeah its hard to take sides with this. On the one hand, many gaijin come to Japan and do stupid things, other hand Japanese expect everybody in the world to understand their sometimes archaic culture.

Like some of the other posters said; take preemptive measures and allot of these attempts would decrease if not disappear. Basic business. Everywhere is not Japan.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Seriously ? Starting a fire, in Kyoto .. I would immediately get police involved, its arson and theft and warrants jail time ... why not do it.. or maybe on other hands the Kyoto hotels and ryokans make such a killing pricing up shitty tiny rooms that they should shut up and make all amenities easily removable.

"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."

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

This is ridiculous. Enter the 21st century and only take credit cards for payment. When guests sign-in make them sign the agreement which states that any loss of or damage to hotel property will be charged against the credit card. It works the same no matter if the thieving guest is from China, Japan or Mars.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I'm old enough to remember the glory days of Japanese commoners beginning to travel abroad in the 1980s. The economy of Nippon, K.K. was about to eclipse that of the Great U.S. of A., Japanese companies were buying up prime real estate, banks, and businesses around the world, and the Yen was becoming oh-so-powerful. In fact, the biggest bank in the world by the size of deposits was the Dai-ichi Kangyo Bank (DKB)! 

So every Taro, Jiro, and Saburo were getting aboard the Jumbo Jets and swarming every known tourist traps imaginable in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Micronesia, and even Europe. 

The Westerners were complaining about how these Japanese tourists walked off with stuff, abused "free" amenities meant for all customers, how they were very inconsiderate of the locals and other travellers, and on and on. This became such a PR problem for His Imperial Majesty's Government that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs began handing out little booklets along with new passports advising His Imperial Majesty's Subjects to mind their manners! 

Fast-forward to the early 21st century, I see very similar dynamics playing out mainly with the citizens of the People's Republic of China....

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I'm old enough to remember the glory days of Japanese commoners beginning to travel abroad in the 1980s. 

Willow@ Your timeline is off by nearly two decades. Restrictions on foreign travel were effectively dropped in 1964. By 1974, Kenji Osano of Kokusai Kogyo had purchased the Moana, Surfrider and Princess Kaiulani hotels in Waikiki and was filling them up with daily Jalpak group tours, mostly honeymoon couples, departing from Haneda and Osaka.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

With the prices ryokans charge they rakin in massive profits from chinese ( and other gaijin ) groups so a few stolen yukatas, cups and ashtrays are just a small cost of doing business. As said above if it gets unreasonable just charge security deposits.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I like to take things like coffee cups and glass coasters that have a logo on them, but only if management allows me to purchase them. On the flip side, I have had management try to sell me an old worn out coffee cup, which I insisted be replaced with a new one, or deal off.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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