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'Monga' in our midst

26 Comments
By Magda Lupescu

"They get into jacuzzis at onsens still covered with body soap, punch out taxi drivers and so on. Here we pursue the mode of life of the foreigners who swagger in our faces during Japan's recession!"

This week's issue of Spa! (Feb 17) then proceeds with a four-page polemic against foreign tourists and residents titled "Report of Monster Foreigners on the Rampage."

Spa! employs the word "monga" for this phenomenon, a neologism of created by combining "monsutaa" (monster) and "gaikokujin" (foreigner).

The article's opening page is topped with a dorsal view of the British tourist who went skinny dipping in the Imperial Palace moat last October, just seconds prior to his arrest. How ironic, the magazine notes, that the same month the gentleman took his swim the Japanese government established a new Tourism Agency under the umbrella of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

The first half of Spa's article is devoted to mutterings over the misadventures of foreign tourists, whose irritating peccadilloes range from utilizing their flashes (which is prohibited) at Tsukiji's early morning fish auctions to haggling tenaciously over the prices of optional extras in an erotic massage parlor.

One "maid" employed by a shop at Akihabara relates her own tale of woe: While distributing flyers on the street she was pursued by a group of five or six cackling black males, exclaiming "Meido-san! Meido-san!" as they recorded her image with video cameras.

"I was terrified, fled for my life," she shudders.

A kaiten-zushi shop owner, meanwhile, is convinced the plastic bottles of water from which South Korean patrons sipped while seated at his counter really contained shochu (grain spirits) that they had "ripped off" from somewhere.

An accompanying sidebar titled "What is the source of the increase in foreigners who wander off the beaten track?" complains that foreign-language guidebooks fail to instill proper decorum and frequently guide readers to places that are irrelevant, while downplaying spots that foreign visitors are likely to enjoy -- such as the Mitsuo Aida Museum in Yurakucho and Museum of Swords (Token Hakubutsukan) in Yoyogi, Shibuya Ward. (Neither museums' websites however, provide maps in English and it appears the latter's has not been updated for about one year.)

The same sidebar also complains bitterly that in its introduction to Yanaka Cemetery in Nippori, the Michelin guide mentions Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the last Tokugawa Shogun, in the same breath with Oden Takahashi, a notorious murderess who was the last woman to be executed by decapitation --- while completely overlooking other famous individuals interred therein.

The second half of the article swivels its guns toward foreigners living in Japan, featuring such "monga" as a satyric Turk who reveled in enticing local women to participate in his Roppongi orgies, and Filipinas who have overstayed their entertainer's visas by a decade or longer.

Vernacular articles focusing on misbehavior by foreigners have regularly appeared in Sapio, a bimonthly magazine with a strong nationalistic slant published by Shogakukan. But Spa!, until fairly recently at least, has been largely indifferent to foreigners here, preferring to cover behavior by the natives. As such, its entry into the fray came as something of a surprise.

Spa!, known as Shukan Sankei until 1989, is published by Fusosha, a wholly owned subsidiary of Fuji TV. The Audit Bureau of Circulation put its weekly sales at 113,397 copies in the first half of 2008.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

26 Comments
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don't really know where to say...

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ahem..*what to say

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Standard racist/Xenophobic japanese spiel. You wouldn't be able to get away with it in tolerant, civilised Western countries. And only about three per cent of the population is foreign in Japan. The fraidy-cats.

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@JackHobbs : 1.5% to be precise ^^ Well you can find misbehaving people in every country, most are just not well informed of what to do but... well, even natives are badly behave !

So just let me laugh.

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Do we really want to compare the habits of Japanese tourist around the world in the 80's and 90's. Many countries had names for them also I think this story is stupid. I mean then I guess foreigners in this countries could just create a net site focusing on dumb things Japanese tourist have done but why waste the time.

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Yeah, more typical Japanese racist venom. You will notice that the targets are tourists and resident foreigners, the majority of whom were born here. Nothing is said about the only significant source of foreign crime in Japan: the US military.

Anyway, this is an article that ought to be read by anyone considering coming to Japan to work or for the holidays. Your money is wanted here but not you. Stay home.

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And do you want to buy anything from a place where you are called a "Monga"?

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This would be funny if they wasn't serious. Racist claptrap. Doesn't Japan want foreign money then?

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Words at times like this, are just too hard to find ... the serious garbage Japan throws out, does it really have anything meaningful to contribute to the world?

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hahaha, funny article. totally clueless racist drivel but entertaining

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Unbelievable! Still such an insulated, ignorant country. I guess the talent have a new word to all shout about (at the same time) on TV. Amazing how elitist the Japanese still seem to be. As others said above, their reputation abroad as tourists is very bad.

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"Monga" is an insult to Monagloids!!!

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One “maid” employed by a shop at Akihabara relates her own tale of woe: While distributing flyers on the street she was pursued by a group of five or six cackling black males, exclaiming “Meido-san! Meido-san!” as they recorded her image with video cameras.

even had they not been cackling, the sight of more than 1 black person in the same place, at the same time, would've been enough to send the japanese populace into a panic. the japanese like their black people to curl their lips, bug-out their eyes and speak in broken japanese. a la bobby orugon. the best black person for the japanese is an ape-like, minstrel who know his place. shucks and jives. the standards are different for white foreigners, of course. they should be kakkoi and look like brad pitt, even if they look more like drew carrey ... ha ha ha.

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what do you expect from Spa! I love reading the stuff they pick out every week. They do an internal audit on what topic to choose and then pick whatever one for the week however crazy and useless.

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As opposed to a Japanese man driving his truck into Akihabara and stabbing 6 people to death!!

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Waaaah some gaijin forgot to wash the soap off his body! Maybe if they had more signs in other languages for tourists that would help? Oh and please leave out the "if you live in japan you should learn Japanese" comments because I'm talking about tourists not expats.

But Japanese people are absoulte saints.......damn gaijin!

Fled for her life? Oh noez run away big scary black men! LOL the xenophobia of Japanese society cracks me up sometimes.

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Japanese people are just people. Slightly confused and scared about the uncertainties in life in general. Each country has it's own racist / biased rants to be found. It is borne of fear and protectionism.

Still it saddens me. Mainly because I will be visiting Japan, and though I am entirely respectful, calm and admire Japanese culture, I will be affected by the need to protect, by racism.

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For a country that seems to desparately want to be "international" they have a lot of catching up to do.

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Isn't this owned by Fuji TV? Articles like these should be showed worldwide and complaints should be made. Funny how they want foreign tourists' money but not the tourist.

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As a Japanese-Canadian (born and raised in Canada, currently living in Japan), I am truly ashamed of the Japanese side of me after reading this. I would like to read the spa article in question... However, as nausica mentioned,

Japanese people are just people. Slightly confused and scared about the uncertainties in life in general.

Japan is an island country, which has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the biggest disadvantages is limited communication and contact with foreigners. Most Japanese are simply "afraid of the unknown". Add to that, with the information age, most Japanese don't have to leave their own home, or hometown to "see" other countries because the media feeds them enough of it on the tv, movies, and internet... the problem with that is, we all know what you see on the screen (especially in Japan)is mostly BS and bias. I know there are other "island countries" in the world, but none are as economically involved on a global scale, yet at the same time so socially detached from the world. With that said, most citizens of Japan don't know what to make of foreigners, however, it's the media like spa who input stereotypes and misconceptions into their heads... shame on them

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I think the telling factor in this story is Spa's circulation. If it was that low a year ago, it's probably in danger of dropping below 100,000 now, which means it's fighting for its existence. When magazine editors come to the realization that doom is imminent some adopt a "what the hell" attitude and start running all sorts of bizarre articles. In a way it makes things all the more tragic, because it's a pretty entertaining magazine, and publishing bigoted stories like this one will definitely tarnish its legacy.

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One “maid” employed by a shop at Akihabara relates her own tale of woe: While distributing flyers on the street she was pursued by a group of five or six cackling black males, exclaiming “Meido-san! Meido-san!” as they recorded her image with video cameras.

Dress like a freak and this is what you'll get.

And Japan is not particularly keen on attracting foreign tourists and their money.

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I am a 'Monga', and here is the evidence to prove it:

I always hold the door for people walking behind me. I always wait for people to get off the train before I get on. I pay taxes, national health insurance and pension, regularly by law. I always say thank you to whoever has done something for me.

Etc. etc.

And here is a typical Japanese citizen:

Almost never hold the door for the person behind. Get on the train as fast as possible, regardless of pushing people. Don't pay pension. Not say 'Thank you' to the waiter etc.

Yes, I am a monster, and Japanese people are SO polite it astounds me.

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It's gotta be partly tongue-in-cheek.

Even the word Monga sounds cute, like the Japanese flying squirrel, or Momonga.

Besides, we all know foreign tourists and residents who fit these stereotypes perfectly. They must be ringing a bell with Spa readers too.

Part of the problem is that even if you try to be like the Japanese, they will often tell you that you should act as a foreigner.

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Part of the problem is that even if you try to be like the Japanese, they will often tell you that you should act as a foreigner.

So funny, and yet so true. Has everyone else had that exact experience as well?

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Part of the problem is that even if you try to be like the Japanese, they will often tell you that you should act as a foreigner.

So funny, and yet so true. Has everyone else had that exact experience as well?

No. But then I've never tried to 'be like the Japanese', I just muddle through being like cleo. It seems to work just fine.

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