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Michelin-star sushi restaurant in Tokyo defends foreigner rules

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This is par-for-the-course in Japan. Nothing is going to change. Better to just accept it for what it is and get on with your life. No way the Japanese will let a bunch of non-Japanese dictate to them.

-22 ( +27 / -49 )

It is the very definition of the word "discriminatory". Now, it might not be racist or xenophobic, but it is certainly discriminatory. have been living in Japan for 15 years and Westerners are certainly much looser with things like reservations and showing up punctually for social engagements. It is to the point where when I make an event like a hanami party, I tell the Japanese guests a time one hour later than the Western guests, and everybody shows up around the same time. So, I can understand the feelings of this restaurant. At 20,000+ a head, a cancelled 4 seat table is big dent in the pocketbook.

22 ( +41 / -20 )

Sorry, but despite best intentions this is discrimination. If other top class restaurants can do it smoothly, then there is really no excuse other than a refusal to adapt or utilize available resources.

For example, more and more restaurants use online reservation systems like urbanspoon to handle international reservations. This allows restaurants to leave feedback on customers so future restaurants can refuse to book based on a history of no-shows, rather than a last name.

32 ( +36 / -5 )

The Clove Club Michelin star restaurant in London has started demanding that customers pre-pay a certain amount when they make the reservation (and won't refund it if you don't show up). Perhaps that's something they should start doing here rather than just refusing all foreign customers?

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/apr/08/would-you-pre-pay-dinner-restaurant-tock-ticketing-system

35 ( +36 / -2 )

We have an increasing number of cases in which people are abandoning their reservations

Maybe word of your uncalled-for racist attitude is getting around.

There are plenty of good places to eat in Tokyo. No need at all to beg to be allowed into a place serving white rice and raw fish with a side of supercilious racism. Plenty of other places ready and willing to take that ¥20,000 and provide good service with a smile as well as a properly-cooked meal, hopefully with a vegetarian option.

57 ( +68 / -12 )

Just get them to pay up front by credit card if they want to eat there. If someone cancels then they have to pay a relevant cancellation charge, 100% day before, 80% week before etc. No discrimination necessary.

27 ( +28 / -2 )

@Tatsuwashi your comment is gonna get a lot of peoples attention and anger...

This sushi restaurant is what I like to call a Snoby-joint... places that because they are "chich", "in", "a la mode", etc., treat their costumers and people in general as if we were something dirty.

I know this kind of places exist in Japan, in Mexico, in the US, in Ecuador, in Kenya... even in Nicaragua.

So again... it is not only a "Japanese thing"... is more kind of "fame" and "money" thing

0 ( +9 / -10 )

Anyone that is familiar with high end traditional Japanese ryotei should not be surprised by this. Indeed, the idea of only accepting reservations from known customers or referrals from known customers is a long established practice.

That said, applying this only to foreigners really is discriminatory. If the restaurant were smart, they would simply require reservations to be guaranteed by a credit card and a minimum charge if reservations are not cancelled at least 24 hours in advance or something like that. That is what I had to do with a restaurant in Kyoto. This is the 21st century after all.

In this particular case, I think this can be addressed via the market. Meaning that enough people protest to Michelin and demand that Michelin immediately remove its Michelin rating, noting that it will not endorse any restaurant that discriminates on the basis of nationality. Mizutani may not care, but Michelin should not endorse or support this discrimination.

20 ( +21 / -3 )

Sushi is sushi. I know of very few people that can tell the difference between cuts from regular places compared to high end places. Same with wine snobs.

12 ( +24 / -11 )

When you live in a society where 99% are the same then you can pretty much do what you want as there wont be much uproar. Dont these restaurant owners realize that Japanese can cancel reservations too? I highly doubt they give a rats ass about their behaviour.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

“We don’t think it is anything discriminatory,” he said.

So, there is some Japa-logic straight out of the can! We have two sets of rules, one for Japanese and one for foreigners, but it's not discriminatory? I reckon they should take those stars off them for racial discrimination! i wonder if Obama had to make a credit card booking when he ate there with Abe.

21 ( +24 / -3 )

In this particular case, the customer was not discriminated against because of residency and not because of Japanese language ability — he lives in Japan and the article notes that he speaks Japanese fluently, as does his Japanese secretary who was handling all arrangements.

Mo was discriminated against purely on the grounds of ethnicity/nationality. Clearly a case of discrimination and bigotry. No restaurant anywhere on the planet that actively practices bigotry should be allowed to keep even a single Michelin star. Also, the owner should be legally prosecuted for this.

Also, I am disappointed that Michelin Guide couldn't make someone available to comment on this. Shameful.

45 ( +45 / -2 )

This is racist and snobbish. Country of origin and language proficiency are not related.

If the problem is language proficiency then surely a non-Japanese who can speak Japanese properly should be able to make a reservation.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

Tatsuwashi - i wholly disagree. i find my Western friends are waaaay more punctual than my Japanese ones.

15 ( +21 / -7 )

JGal. Can't agree with you. you can definitely tell the difference between a high end sushi bar and a bog standard one. wine may be more a matter of taste but can still tell good wine from bad.

4 ( +9 / -4 )

Well, I have already done my part and sent through a complaint directly to Michelin, providing all of the details. Let's see if I hear back from them.

22 ( +24 / -2 )

Always creating new problems instead of solving existing ones. How about asking for a credit card number when booking and charge for the meal even if the person doesn't show up? If charging for the whole meal is too much, how about charging for half of it? Why can't people be creative? If the Japanese customers ALWAYS show up, they shouldn't mind giving their credit card number. Having reservation rules is all right, but refusing some customers because of nationality sounds like bad business to me...

18 ( +18 / -0 )

This is just so wrong. I am finished walking on eggshells as far as calling racist bugs out! Call be a Japan brasher but when I see an injustice I am going to speak OUT LOUD.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

Anyone that has seriously spent time in Japan longer than a vacation understands that this is an all to common mindset within Japanese culture. I have had the same issue happen to me when trying to join a college club. The article is pointed on the fact that everything was fine until the name of the customer was given. And according to the response of the restraunt, if it had not been discriminatory in nature, they would have asked that the individual reserve with the credit card.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

They should require everyone to pre-pay (including Japanese) if they are so concerned about missing/cancelled reservations.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

While I can somewhat sympathize with having to deal with cancelled reservations, there are far, far, far better ways of dealing with this than "gaijin dame!"

I suspect this restaurant hasn't yet realized how bad a hole they have dug themselves with this one, but they will soon.

The sad thing is the solution to their problem is simple, just require a credit card guarantee for everyone. But no, they had to go down the discriminatory route.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Whether or not this is bigotry, restaurants should be allowed to set their policies, and Michael should revoke the stars for any restaurants that have this policy.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

mail a few dictionaries to the restaurant with a bookmark in the d's

5 ( +5 / -0 )

i wholly disagree. i find my Western friends are waaaay more punctual than my Japanese ones.

I guess they are not Spanish then!

In my experience, Japanese tend to consider an agreed time to be a deadline ("not after"), whereas most Westerners consider it a guide, and some have an unwritten "later than..." before the time. It is a cultural thing - different cultures treat time differently.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

This is part of the irony of the Japanese psych. They are so proud of the heritage and culture and want to show it off to the world, but the only way a foreigner can be a part of it is if he is Japanese. I've been to many 'fine' Japanese restaurants, but it is impossible if you can't speak (and read) Japanese. I can't wait until the Olympics when the hundreds of thousands of international visitors arrive in Japan and they all find themselves eating in izakaya chain stores because the 'true' Japanese restaurants are too bigoted to make any accommodations for foreign guests. Let them wallow in their own bigoted heritage and miss out on the bucks!

14 ( +17 / -3 )

come on, them cancellations in Japan have been ONLY FROM NON JAPANESE??? HELL NO!!!

Yep! Japanese never cancel reservations?

I heard old man Jiro gets snappy at foreigners too. Can someone confirm this?

Don't matter, I'll stick to Kura Sushi.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Have I agree with wakarimasen all of my Japanese friends and even family are always late. I can rarely get my husband anywhere at agreed meeting time. His parents are always 10 minutes late so it's 100% discrimination to say this a foreigner problem.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

The bitter irony of this is that Michelin is a French ( a gaijin) company. I say strip them of their stars. Stars should not only be awarded simply because of taste; rather they should be awarded to total dining experience. That means being able to dine regardless of your ethnicity.

Japan: modern country; outdated, archaic, and obsolete ways of thinking.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Right on, Stephen Jez. They can go cry me a river!

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Discrimination 100%

8 ( +11 / -3 )

So much for O-MO-TE-NA-SHI.

14 ( +16 / -3 )

I'm with Cleo to some extent: Let your wallet do the talking. Yen, regardless of who's holding it, spends the same anywhere in Japan. Sushi Mizuta is pursuing a policy that clearly discriminates based on superficial perceptions of trustworthiness. Simply put, if you have a Japanese name, you're in the circle of trust. If you don't, you're not, regardless of how long you've lived in Japan or how fluent you are in Japanese and Japanese culture.

Suzuki can keep his sushi. Like Cleo accurately pointed out, there are plenty of places througout Tokyo that serve sushi that is easily as delicious as and far more reasonably priced than anything Suzuki claims to be special and deserving of an arbitrary 200,000 price tag.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

So if the next Michelin inspector coming to this place happen to be a non-japanese, I believe Mizutani can say bye to his stars...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Sushi is sushi. I know of very few people that can tell the difference between cuts from regular places compared to high end places. Same with wine snobs.

Not so, up to a point.

With food, as with investments, the law of diminishing returns applies. I can tell the difference between a 1,000 yen bottle and 2,000 yen bottle of wine, and again between a 2,000 yen bottle and a 4,000 yen bottle (usually), but above and beyond that you're into the realm of the sommelier. Unless it is Beaujolais Nouveaux, in which case it's pish at any price.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Imagine the uproar if all japanese were treated the same way in say restaurants in London or New York. And yet laughingly the apologists rush to defend their masters.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

Not showing up is a big problm for restaurants or Ryokans. Some even make fake reservations for a large group of people. So, I recommend you pay in advance when you make a reservation.

-13 ( +5 / -18 )

Racists.

7 ( +13 / -6 )

Japan: modern country; outdated, archaic, and obsolete ways of thinking

This can be said about every single country on the planet. There are pockets of people in every country that discriminate against race, gender, age, sexuality and economic status. For you to blame an entire country because of one bigot is essentially lowering yourself to his level.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Personally I don't see that much of a problem with this. It's certainly a touchy subject and is open to criticism, but consider the following;

They make allowance for reservations which are "made through a hotel concierge or a credit card company". This indicates that provided they're guaranteed to be paid even for a no-show, they're fine with accepting a reservation by non-nationals.

What if I as a tourist were to make a reservation there but am unable to make it due to any number of factors, such as incurring significant other expenses and being unable to afford it any more, or having to leave the country? The former is still an issue with locals, but the assumption would be that locals are better-prepared to budget for their intended dining at such an establishment. The latter could apply to locals as well, but is drastically less likely to be the case.

I am right now in the process of sorting out a small claim I need to lay against someone who has made use of my services and taken products from me without settling their bill. From a business perspective, I am most definitely not going to conclude my services for anyone I do not know personally again in the future because I have no way to guarantee my time and work will not be left unpaid.

This restaurant's situation is not too different. They're discerning some clients from others, but nobody need patronise them either if they find such discrimination so upsetting.

NB: 'discrimination' is not an inherently negative thing; you're being discriminative when you stand at a deli and decide that one product appears to be of higher quality and more worthy of your money over another. You're being discriminative when you choose one car-wash over another because you prefer its service. You're being discriminative when you choose not to go to a restaurant because you don't agree with their policies.

Your discrimination is simple discernment of factors which you agree/disagree with or which you find acceptable/unacceptable. Try not to get hung up on the word carrying a purely negative connotation.

-5 ( +12 / -17 )

I'd pay any amount of money to go to an Italian restaurant where they excluded Asians. It would be heaven not having to listen to their endless stereophonic slurps over a plate of spaghetti carbonara.

Yep I know that not every Asian, by Italian standards, has bad eating etiquette, but the risk is always there.

However I know that this would be a moral wrong and totally discriminatory and you would totally offend Asians, and thankfully a lot of non-Asians.

I endure this imperfect world and the Japanese should trying do likewise. Until they do, they'll never be taken seriously in this world.

Sushi Mizutani is running a totally racist and discriminatory policy and shame on Michelin for awarding them stars, shame on anyone who eats there and shame on any posters who excuse their behavior.

As an end note and a not common known fact, Michelin used to award stars to apartheid South African restaurants in Jburg, Capetown, Durban and Pretoria.

10 ( +14 / -5 )

what's with all the rubbish about discrimination? they didn't say they refused to serve foreigners. foreigners just have to jump through another hoop to get a table. but of course most of you would rather ignore that important fact.

-21 ( +5 / -25 )

To amend my last post: "From a business perspective, I am most definitely not going to conclude my services for anyone I do not know personally again in the future because I have no way to guarantee my time and work will not be left unpaid" Should read: "From a business perspective, I am most definitely not going to conclude my services -if not yet paid- for anyone I do not know personally again in the future because I have no way to guarantee my time and work will not be left unpaid."

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Not showing up is a big problm for restaurants or Ryokans. Some even make fake reservations for a large group of people. So, I recommend you pay in advance when you make a reservation.

I recommend you be Japanese

4 ( +10 / -6 )

@nakanoguy01:

OK. Setting aside the fact that setting one reservation rule for Japanese and another for foreigners is, in and of itself discriminatory on a nationality basis by definition, let's look at those hoops you have to jump through.

Make a reservation through a hotel: Great, if you are a resident of Japan and not staying at a hotel, how does that work? "Um, XXX Hotel Concierge, hi, I don't stay at your hotel but I live in Tokyo and want to go to this restaurant. Can you please help me make a reservation?" Don't think that will work.

Make reservation through a credit card company: Like, what AMEX Platinum Concierge Service? So what about those regular plebes that just have a regular credit card that doesn't offer those types of services. Guess no plebes allowed.

Utter bollocks.

8 ( +10 / -3 )

The magazine said that as soon as his secretary—a Japanese woman—told the restaurant Mo’s name and contact number, the person taking the booking suddenly changed his attitude and said “some arrangements were necessary”—indicating the reservation was not acceptable.

Yes indeed, that gaijin name does it every time. Just make sure you frontload anything with "watashi wa gaikoukujin desu kedo...." (Im sorry to bother you with me being a foriegner but..) and youll save yourself the misery of such an experience as this person had. Best to get that out of the way before any transaction ever takes place. This is an everyday occurance in Japan, and the annoying excuses are the norm as well. Get used to it because it will never change.

10 ( +11 / -2 )

If one does not like a policy of any establishment, don't go there.

Vote with your feet.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

This is a common practise by foreigners. They will book three to four place and decide on the night which one they will eat at.

-25 ( +6 / -31 )

Imanishi E.Apr. 28, 2015 - 05:28PM JST

If one does not like a policy of any establishment, don't go there. Vote with your feet.

There's lots of good old Dixie boys in the deep south of the USA, who spent their weekends dressed and hooded in the family bed sheet, who wished the US Federal government had taken the same attitude. circa 1965.

Dammmmm human enlightenment, human rights and human progress.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

@John-san:

That really is such a stereotype and a generalisation. It is not something I have ever done in Japan and I am a foreigner. I am certain that there are many other long-term resident foreigners who would never dream of being so inconsiderate.

However, again, the remedy is not to discriminate by nationality, but, rather, to institute a credit card guarantee system for all customers/reservations. Problem solved.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

"I'll stick to Kura Sushi."

Hear, hear!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Another example of Japanese racism, which has grown much worse since Abe became prime minister. Even when the reservation is made by a Japanese on behalf of a long-term resident and fluent Japanese speaker.

It just goes to show no matter how long you live in Japan and now matter how hard you try to integrate, you'll never be fully accepted.

The Michelin stars should be revoked.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

@zones2surf No, you're practically-guaranteed to have done so. To say otherwise is to imply that you have never once looked at a dining establishment while out on the town and not felt compelled to immediately choose it as your place of dining for the evening over any other place, so as to not discriminate against it. That you have never once chosen one product over another because of some personal reason, even if something so simple as a price difference.

"but, rather, to institute a credit card guarantee system for all customers/reservations"

They already have this, it only applies to non-nationals. They probably have a blacklisting policy for local no-shows in place as well which we're simply not privy to.

-18 ( +1 / -19 )

@Theo Lubbe:

No, you're practically-guaranteed to have done so. To say otherwise is to imply that you have never once looked at a dining establishment while out on the town and not felt compelled to immediately choose it as your place of dining for the evening over any other place, so as to not discriminate against it. That you have never once chosen one product over another because of some personal reason, even if something so simple as a price difference.

Huh? Sorry, I am completely confused by this. What are you trying to say? I don't understand. I am saying that I have never booked multiple restaurants in advance and then decided on the night which one I am going to go to. How does your comment relate to that?

They already have this, it only applies to non-nationals.

Really? Where did you read that in the article? They said that you had to make a reservation through a credit card company. That is completely different from making a reservation directly with the restaurant and providing a credit card number/information to guarantee the reservation. Two very different things.

13 ( +12 / -0 )

Double standards, just look at all the fuss that was made here, when Gackt couldn't get his chosen window seat in a French Cafe.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

A well travelled co worker with a masters degree said to me, "maybe they don't speak english and are worried or embarrassed " and I mentioned that when Japanese travel abroad they are welcomed at restaurants, stores and other establishments although the locals don't speak Japanese. This kind of behavior cannot be excused with such rubbish.

12 ( +13 / -2 )

Thumb me down Japanophiles, reviosnists, and wingers ....... Don't you just hate it when the boot is on the other foot, and your double standards and hypocracy are shown to your faces.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The restaurant is handling this badly and they need not.. Just be more upfront and ask if the customer speaks Japanese (or has a Japanese speaker in the group) b) Tell them a deposit will be taken from their credit card at the time of booking, which is non-refundable after a certain time. It's a classic case of walking into a PR disaster unnecessarily.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

I guess I can join the dissing bandwagon, but just bashing is no fun so let's write something that will get me downvoted instead.

First, regardless of your feelings, this Mizutani is betting real money on its choice. Forget bad mouthing by annoyed Westerners, they are turning away business and eating a cost for it. They choose to accept that loss apparently thinking it'll be the lesser one. They are putting cash where their mouth is and their critics aren't.

Second, examining the common solutions of "credit-card guarantees" or the like, let's take their implicit assumption - locals are sufficiently more reliable that fewer guarantees are needed. You might disagree, perhaps based on personal experience, but again remember they are willing to back their bet with cash and you haven't shown that yet.

If that's the case, then insisting on resolving it with universal standards in effect shafts the better-behaved group, forcing them to suffer to conform to a Lowest Common Denominator. Is that fair?

Is discussing issues like this more worthwhile than just bandwagon bashing?

-17 ( +4 / -20 )

Discmination certainly, but my experience is that the Michelin rating seems to be more stars, more cost, less service and food that is less than average in quality. I think its the tyre Michelan more than the food Michilin that makes the rating.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

They probably have a blacklisting policy for local no-shows in place as well which we're simply not privy to.

I was wondering about that. Given the snobbery of Michelin ratings, I was wondering how bookings over the phone from heavily-accented Osaka residents are treated. "From Kishiwada? Let me look. I'm sorry, but we appear to be full on that day."

While this was certainly discrimination, my anger is tempered by the lazy bugger getting his secretary to make the booking. I would be amused if a restaurant had a general policy of not accepting bookings placed by people's secretaries.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

So basically we are discriminated on the grounds that we will not turn up for the reservation, but Japanese people will? Pure racism.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Pure racism.

No. Pure business. You open up your restaurant in Tokyo and see for yourself.

-28 ( +3 / -30 )

tinawatanabe: No, tina, it's pure racism and discrimination. Wouldn't expect you to realize that, though.

Just take away their stars. All their is to it. If they say the problem is not being able to speak Japanese but the person discriminated against is a fluent speaker and the STILL cause problems, it's discrimination.

12 ( +17 / -6 )

TATSUWASHI. 15 years in japan?? You should know better. I also 15 years in japan. 15 years in the food services industry too. When Japanese make a reservation, they believe it gives them the right to turn whenever they want, as a table will be waiting. The time of the reservation is not an arrival time, it's a time when the table is available for them to show up at their leisure. Quite often guests of Japanese customers will arrive late, with various excuses, The must common..... Delayed at work.

13 ( +13 / -1 )

@zone2surf "Huh? Sorry, I am completely confused by this. What are you trying to say? I don't understand. I am saying that I have never booked multiple restaurants in advance and then decided on the night which one I am going to go to. How does your comment relate to that?"

My mistake, I had missed the 'book' part of the comment you were replying to. As for the latter part, they specifically stated "unless they are made through a hotel concierge or a credit card company"

It's a major inconvenience, yes, but you're also talking about a place which charges from 20,000 per person, so I'd imagine the sorts of people going to a place like this are already used to making these sorts of exclusive/high-profile arrangements. After all; I was treated to a full-course meal at a highly-exclusive restaurant in Tokyo which doesn't discriminate based on nationality, but does discriminate based on the 'position' of the one making the booking. Under any normal circumstances I would apparently have been unable to make a reservation there unless I could prove I'm worthy of rubbing shoulders with government officials and high-ranking employees from mega-corporations.

Those of you downvoting me without actually explaining your positions, it'd be great if you'd take the time to explain why you disagree rather than simply hiding in the shadows, passive-aggressively expressing your disagreement with little thumbs-downs.

Many parts of the world allow for a "right of admission reserved" legislation for private establishments of all sorts. If a restaurant like this were to choose to not admit a smelly, dirty person who still happens to have the money necessary to pay, and you are a fellow patron at that restaurant next to whom this smelly person would want to sit; would you cry 'discrimination!' or quietly wait for management to get rid of that person?

Please don't assume the statement of the above sentence is to imply these foreigners are considered smelly and/or dirty, because it's not. The point is that the management is still discriminating (I highly advise you go look up the definitions of this word) against this patron and electing to deny them admission to the establishment on grounds they have chosen. You don't need to agree or disagree with those reasons beyond choosing to patronise them or not; getting vocal about their policies in their establishment which needn't serve you if it doesn't want to is indicative of an entitled attitude.

When I visited Japan in 2008 I went to Fuji-Q Highland. There they had on one of the ice rinks a Sedgeway 'ride' where people could use Sedgeways after some instruction on their use. Unfortunately for me, the indemnity forms all participants must sign were in only Japanese, and you could tell the guy who had to handle the situation was afraid I would get upset about the whole scenario and didn't want to have to deal with me about it either because of that.

When I explained to him that my Japanese isn't good enough to read and understand the forms myself and that I'm aware of how that's a problem, so I'll accept the situation, he almost-immediately opened up and was perfectly willing to talk a little about the things even though he couldn't let me use them - going from avoiding eye contact, mumbling and trying his best to get me to just go away to smiling, making eye contact and enthusiastically talking about the things.

He was discriminating against me. He was assuming that because I'm a foreigner I wouldn't be able to read the forms and thus be unable to fill them in. I assume that he was assuming I would get upset about being denied the chance to use the things. Did I take it personally and get upset about it? No. He and his management have their reasons for their policies and I as a customer can either accept those policies or move on.

This journalist could have done the same. They could have made their booking through a hotel or their credit card company as they were advised to do. It seems they instead took offence and decided not to go there at all and criticise the restaurant for their policy.

If either party was in the wrong here, it's the journalist, not the restaurant. The journalist can find another restaurant to go to and the restaurant can try to get a different customer despite the negative press they receive.

-15 ( +3 / -17 )

Discriminatory, for sure. Time to 'Go Online'.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

@Tatsuwashi: What a load of stereotypical crap. I know plenty of Japanese who rock up late and as for finishing on time? NEVER!

10 ( +11 / -1 )

smithinjapan, The restaurants, landlords or any other business don't gain anything by being racism. I know it's a big loss for restaurants if no show. If you run a restaurant and if Japanese customers seldom cause trouble but foreigners often do not show up, what would you do? You rather go bankrupt than being called racist?

-21 ( +2 / -23 )

“Non-Japanese customers may not show up for their reservations...”

"'We have an increasing number of cases in which people are abandoning their reservations,' a restaurant worker told AFP, adding Japanese-speaking customers are called for reconfirmation a few days before their reservation."

So, what you're saying is, you don't offer the same service to non-Japanese speaking customers by not calling them to reconfirm reservations? You give preferential treatment to Japanese customers and then you get angry when foreigners don't give you the respect you feel you deserve? Sounds hypocritical.

Why don't you try treating all your customers equally before you start complaining about the ones you disrespect disrespecting you.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Just one more example of Japanese O Mo Te Na Shi.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

He was assuming that because I'm a foreigner I wouldn't be able to read the forms

No, you told him you couldn't read the forms - I explained to him that my Japanese isn't good enough to read and understand the forms. Bears no relation at all to a person like Mr. Mo who has lived in Japan 3 decades, speaks and reads Japanese fluently and is perfectly capable of turning up on time ready, able and willing to pay for his raw fish.

By turning down his reservation, the restaurant lost upwards of ¥80,000, not to mention the potential custom lost from other big spenders deciding to go elsewhere for a meal.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

@dissolutioned i wonder if Obama had to make a credit card booking when he ate there with Abe.

He was treated by Abe (I mean Japanese tax payers) so he didn't need a reservation or a card! Not to mention that preordered fish per customer was wasted as Obama didn't eat it all... Even after exclaiming it was delicious!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

There is no law against discrimination in GOOD OL JAPAN...don't think it will ever be removed either!

6 ( +8 / -2 )

@Kazuaki Shimazaki

Second, examining the common solutions of "credit-card guarantees" or the like, let's take their implicit assumption - locals are sufficiently more reliable that fewer guarantees are needed.

I think you're missing the key point that the man in the story IS a local... but he is being treated differently because his parents gave him a Chinese name.

It would be very different if they asked for everyone's address and then treated people living outside of Tokyo or even Japan differently. Then it would be discrimination by location, not by race.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

A Singaporean and his western educated Japanese friend when to a small city top notch sushi restaurant. They asked to be served sushi dinner but was told restaurant fully booked. But on site, the restaurant was more than half empty. They accepted and when to the neighboring Italian restaurant. And later went back to reserve sushi dinner for the following night. The Japanese sushi chef rudely refused the reservation. The sushi restaurant remains half empty that night. So embarrassing for the Japanese friend.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

There's no law saying you have to make a reservation in your own name. I always use my wife's. Never had a a problem.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Sorry, but despite best intentions this is discrimination.

I don't see any good intentions, and they should lose their stars for this. Michelin is international, and a large part of its focus is on dining for travellers.

There is no question that it is discriminatory.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

They shouldnt really have any Michelin stars with those racist policies but who really cares. Plenty of great Sushi Trains around 100 yen a plate or even 90 yen on weekdays, lots a variety and smiling staff, with menus in English, Chinese and Korean if you need to know what you are eating.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

In my memory in the Narita aiport, after all the main international airport in Japan, there are numerous restaurants without an English menu or any non-Japanese sign, clearly indicating that they do not want foreigners hanging out there. There is no issue of being on time or not there.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

If you run a restaurant and if Japanese customers seldom cause trouble but foreigners often do not show up, what would you do?

One of my best Japanese friends is a yoga teacher who gives regular workshops that require advance booking. According to her, there are quite a few no-shows on the day, resulting in a great loss of income. I advised her to insist on a deposit, or at least a cancellation fee. What I didn't advise was a blanket ban on all middle-aged Japanese housewives (because according to her, the majority of no-shows fit that description); imagine if she tried to do that? Or, for that matter, imagine if a yoga teacher in another country flatly refused to accept any Japanese applicants, because "they cause trouble?" How would you feel?

11 ( +12 / -1 )

The real issue here, I think, is that the owner, Mizutani, probably has a legitimate business issue, which is cancelled reservations/no shows which may be predominantly foreigners (I don't know, but will concede that for argument's sake) and he decided to deal with that.

The problem is that he is, essentially, a domestic sushi chef rooted in the Showa era but operating in the 21st century. Nobu or Morimoto he is not. So, rather than find a smart way to deal with his a potentially legitimate business issue (loss of revenue due to cancelled reservations), he resorts to a crude mechanism which is, unintentional or not, absolutely discriminatory.

Do I think he has the right to discriminate/select who he wants to serve? Actually, yes, because there are so many great sushi restaurants in Tokyo, his discrimination will not inconvenience those impacted by his discrimination. Let me be clear, I think discrimination on the basis of things like nationality is wrong, but I also don't believe anyone will be truly adversely impacted. There are any number of excellent sushi restaurants that would be happy to have the business.

However, equally, I think the market has every right to punish him for his stupidity. That is the way the market works. He will, I think, suffer the repercussions of this, particularly in terms of reputation and potentially the loss of his Michelin stars.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The arguement that foriegn patrons of this sushi resturant cancel and dont pay seems to be more of the cake and get to eat it too mentality we see allot of in Japan; expect the red carpet abroad but at home do something all together different. This article clearly says his secretary, a Japanese, called earlier and was ready to pay. All they have to do is require payment up front as many business do that way there is no loss, especially if there is an added cancelation fee, as I have so often seen done in Japan. Ive heard it all, like "Ive never seen a foriegner before, or a foriegner may scare some of our customers etc etc." I know what this is when I see it.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Earth to Japan. come in! We love you, but if you want our tourist money ya'll better fix this! Get some English/French/Chinese menus up, try online reservations, do something. In the meantime, yoroshiku!

Sincerely, Earth (heart emoji here)

3 ( +4 / -1 )

i wonder if Obama had to make a credit card booking when he ate there with Abe.

He didn't eat here, he ate at Sukiyabashi Jiro which is a more well-known place and has more Michelin stars.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

tinawatanabe: "smithinjapan, The restaurants, landlords or any other business don't gain anything by being racism."

You are assuming racism is logical, when it is not. And as for what they gain, they can keep the restaurant 'pure' and still make heaps of money while not allowing 'undesirables', like foreigners, in. A long time ago you could do this with black people in the USA and other nations, and even recently you can turn down homosexuals if it conflicts with your 'religious rights'. It's discrimination, tina, and racism. Let's look at the story in question -- his reservation was going fine until his name, which is Chinese, was uttered, and then suddenly he was refused. Why? There is absolutely NO reason, since Japanese are also often late for appointments. And don't say they aren't, because they are. They also make all sorts of reservations through travel agencies and then suddenly cancel if they are afraid of something -- should they no longer be allowed to make reservations?

"I know it's a big loss for restaurants if no show. If you run a restaurant and if Japanese customers seldom cause trouble but foreigners often do not show up, what would you do?"

First, you say "seldom cause trouble", admitting yourself that at least in some cases they do. Second, you are talking about hypothetical situations, not reality, as Japanese are also often late for reservations. The restaurants just usually give them to someone else and then the people who reserved a table have to wait until the next one is free.

"You rather go bankrupt than being called racist?"

So you admit they are racist. Thank you. As I said, take away their stars period, unless they change their policy and allow the Chinese man to come in, with his meal on the house and the best seat in the restaurant, and the chef/owner personally apologizing and bowing on the floor.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

@ baikokudan,

Yes, the cake is good, but none to share cuz its all mine, right?! When in Hawaii or elsewhere, please provide me with Japanese menu and other whims as I cant speak engrish. Giggle and coddle me, but never refuse service to me. But your message is spot on and I like its directness for a change. Hey foriegner, dont like your subhuman treatment? Be gone then! Read you loud and clear.

2 ( +3 / -2 )

No matter what hype any sympathisers for the restaurants cause want to heap on this, there is no way of evading the accusation of discrimination based solely on ones name - hence ethnicity.

That a local person (30yrs living in Japan) who spoke fluent Japanese was refused service because of his foreign sounding name is simply disgusting.

It has nothing to do with what some other foreigners may or may not have done in the past.

Michelin as supposedly the world leader in recognizing and awarding the best restaurants in the world, need to get a real grip on this and say straight out this is not an acceptable practice worthy of our global standards.

It all just stinks and no flowery words will deodorize that.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

@zones2surf

Do I think he has the right to discriminate/select who he wants to serve?

I agree with everything else you said, but the government should have the right to step in to make anti-discrimination laws. It's an economic and public service issue. If some businesses decide to arbitrarily discriminate against immigrants, others against Asians, and others against Jews etc, people will either stay at home or stick with the few restaurants they know will accept them. In the end there will be a lack of competition and a segmented market leading to higher prices for everyone. It's the government's job to see to it that the service economy doesn't grind to a halt.

Yes, there are other places to eat in Tokyo, but imagine if this is the only restaurant in a small town which only has enough customers to support a single restaurant. IMO, once you open your doors to the general public you shouldn't be allowed to simply say 'my business, my rules'. There is a greater public interest at stake.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

“We prepare fish for the number of expected customers and have to turn down other requests for booking sometimes. We simply cannot afford it if people don’t show up.

“We don’t think it is anything discriminatory,” he said."

They be wrong. Of course it's discriminatory.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Subhuman bigots. Takes their stars away.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They should have their stars removed, plain & simple.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

'when in Rome, do as the Romans do.'

Harder to do if people like this don't allow you to do as a Roman does. Should a Roman exclude the Japanese from ordering spaghetti in his or her restaurant after hearing the Japanese make an almighty racket when eating noodles?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@dissolutioned i wonder if Obama had to make a credit card booking when he ate there with Abe.

============================================================================

Credit cart by Obama? FBI assigned to Obama will swamp.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Where do you go to contact Michelin to complain about this? I found sites for specific nations, but I would prefer to contact Corporate instead of Michelin Japan because they are unlikely to take a complaint about a Japanese restaurant by a foreigner seriously -- like this racist sushi chef.

I recommend everyone on here contact Michelin and complain, citing specifically the restaurant, their discriminatory practices, and perhaps that forthwith you will refuse to go to any Michelin restaurant if they do not take away at least one star.

1 ( +4 / -4 )

I think this is the website for comments.

http://www.michelintravel.com/contact-us/

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The Mizutani sushi testaurant deserves to be fined and de starred for racial discrimination. I know a spanish permanent resident that is also fluent and has lived here for 28 years being refused on the grounds he wasnt japanese. He even showed them his residency card and they refused entrance unless he would let them charge his card first at some predetermined reservation rate even though he showed them a wallet full of cash, they do this only to foreign nationals. It is rascism.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

It's entirely racial discrimination, so I can't agree with it.

That said, I think they should just make the same rule for everyone, or get a system that allows them to bill credit cards when someone makes a reservation.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

If Kappa Sushi ever refuses me on the grounds of me being a foreigner I will be so angry.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Sushi Mizutani is a private business. Like it or not, Sushi Mizutani is a pre-pay restaurant. Not unheard of on holiday nights and special event dining everywhere. The claim is a Chinese sir name created the discrimination. Really?

“We have an increasing number of cases in which people are abandoning their reservations,”? Solution: place a charge on the customer's card as a non-refundable deposit.

Sushi Mizutani certainly doesn't earn a Michelin star for having an ignorant staff who can't explain this, in Japanese to a native Japanese secretary, and an ignorant owner for not seeing the problem.

Or Sushi Mizutani is like so many high end restaurant's who are doing the customer a favor taking their money and insulting them for free. Boo hoo, eat somewhere else.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

I've already written to Michelin. The only star this place should be getting is a brown one.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

“We don’t think it is anything discriminatory,” he said.

Seriously? You're refusing to accept bookings for foreigners unless they were made by a concierge or a credit card company and you don't consider that discriminatory?! Why not state the REAL rule that says, "We will not talk to non-Japanese." One has to wonder how the Michelin evaluator ever managed to get IN the restaurant to evaluate it! It must have been an evaluator of Japanese descent, because a French national would have never been allowed to make a reservation. Michelin needs to re-evaluate this restaurant.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The problem is that he is, essentially, a domestic sushi chef rooted in the Showa era but operating in the 21st century.

I think this is a very good point. In a few years time, possibly even by 2020, the bulk of customers clamouring for real Japanese sushi in Tokyo will be foreign, not Japanese! The locals will be either too poor, or too old and senile, to appeciate the stuff. Time for places like Sushi Mizutani to swallow their pride and accept the inevitable.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@smithinjapan & @M3M3M3:

This is where I went to register a comment.

http://www.michelin.com/eng/contact-michelin

@M3M3M3:

On the right of the government to pass anti-discrimination laws, yeah, I don't disagree with you. But here is my view when it comes to restaurants in a place like Tokyo. There are so many and, ultimately, they are in the business of making money and this is the 21st century where social media can, in many cases, sort this out.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

If you want to use a restaurant, just go there. Expect your group will wait until the joint can accomodate to your large group. Restaurant is business and so it is not going to lose business with many empty seats while other customers are lining up to eat in the joints.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@Toshiko, I know it's about a sushi place, but please, no red herrings. Don't avoid the embarrassment this practice is exposing Japan to: Racist ones.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

All those aplogists for this discrimination citing 'good business' and concern for the restaurants wasting food make me sick. Discrimination and racism can never be excused or explained away. You may be interested to hear that on Saturday evening, my husband and I were refused entry to an half empty, common or garden kushikatsu place in Kobe. No reason was given, but the owner physically pushed us out the shop. What was curious though, was that my Japanese husband was welcomed and was waved towards two seats at the counter until I came in after him, then we had to leave. Curiouser and curiouser, a couple of young blokes who went in after us were welcomed most effusively. How do the apologists here explain that away? My husband wanted to go back and make a fuss, but what's the point? The owner won't be charged with breaking any law, and I certainly don't want her to have our money. It's not the first time it's happened - a hotel in Matsuyama, a hairdresser in Ashiya....... I could go on.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Here is another long term foreigner resident of Japan's post on his experience on tripdadvisor.com.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g1066444-d1177310-r254424352-Sushi_Mizutani-Chuo_Tokyo_Tokyo_Prefecture_Kanto.html#CHECK_RATES_CONT

2 ( +3 / -1 )

imagine if a yoga teacher in another country flatly refused to accept any Japanese applicants, because "they cause trouble?" How would you feel?

I would accept it without complaining and look for other places. I don't think most Japanese people want to waste time in complaining.

-17 ( +3 / -20 )

tinawatanabe: "I heard that some foreigners demand their sushi be cooked because they don't eat raw fish."

Ah, you hear that on 2-channel? And out of how many tens of thousands who visit Japan a year and eat sushi demand this? Your grasping at straws, and badly drowning.

"It is a fact that there're many foreign tourists who have no respect to how things are in restaurants or stores, etc."

Racist tina again. It's a 'fact', is it?

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Bigots like the people who run this restaurant do not deserve stars. Take them away.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I heard that some foreigners demand their sushi be cooked because they don't eat raw fish.

I'm now completely convinced that tinawatanabe is just a western guy trolling us all for laughs. Bravo, bravo! I've enjoyed the performance.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Also if you want to contact Michelin - they have several FB pages. Let's blitz them.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

@tina: makizushis are rolled with hot sushi rice. My favorites are cooked crab meat or large shrimp meat sliced rolled with hot sushi rice. There are inarizushis that use cooked aburage. Many people love these hot sushis in my area in USA.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

You know what.... let them eat their Sushi.... but they need to clearly put up signage on the outside of the building stating their criteria for entry.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Nipporinoel:

Good suggestion. This has already been picked up by at least one Aussie news organisation and I have pushed it out to a few people I know to get it disseminated.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I love Gatten-Zushi (in Japan, its great). But in CA, there is no justice. The quality sucks, pickings are slim and its wayyy overpriced-

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

O-Mo-Te-Na-Shi....

According to a Japan Today piece from last year,

“Omotenashi” is hard to define, but Japanese use it to describe what they believe is their unique approach to hospitality. “Omotenashi” involves the subjugation of self in service to a guest, without being “servile”. Anticipating needs is at the heart of the concept; and it is certainly fair to say that in Japan, acting on others’ needs without being asked to do so is at the height of savvy.

Me thinks someone needs to educate Mizutani on O-Mo-Te-Na-Shi...... but then again, maybe that is only for Japanese.... and pitches to win the Olympics!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

@pointofview

When you live in a society where 99% are the same then you can pretty much do what you want

However, when you live in a society which claims to be 99% the same but actually is not, there may be some problems when people think it means they can pretty much do what they want.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I just wrote to Michelin to complain. I plan to visit their Facebook sites later to do the same. Please everyone do the same.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

DaDudeAPR. 28, 2015 - 05:07PM JST This can be said about every single country on the planet. There are pockets of people in every country that discriminate against race, gender, age, sexuality and economic status. For you to blame an entire country because of one bigot is essentially lowering yourself to his level.

No, I'm afraid not.

It's a certainty that in any other country in the world we could find a luxury restaurant where racial/national discrimination is practiced. But to be so brazen about it that you wouldn't even bother to make up a plausible excuse, to just outright admit to racial discrimination and think that a shallow, "But we don't discriminate" statement is enough to satisfy everyone, that takes something special. That takes the knowledge that whatever you do to the target group, you won't suffer social consequences for your discrimination.

That level of discrimination is not something you will find in every country in the world, because in many countries of the world that level of blatant discrimination is socially unacceptable. It would be unfair to blame Japanese people as a whole for the bigots in their midst, but it's much more fair to blame the many, many Japanese people who witness discrimination and express no opinion on it for the extreme degree of tolerance bigots feel in this society. Discrimination in Japan is not worse than in many countries, and certainly the consequences of it aren't nearly as deadly as even discrimination in my own country. But it's much more permissible, and we need to face that fact if we're going to be honest about living here.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@tina

imagine if a yoga teacher in another country flatly refused to accept any Japanese applicants, because "they cause trouble?" How would you feel?

I would accept it without complaining and look for other places. I don't think most Japanese people want to waste time in complaining

There was an incident in Bangkok recently when a taxi driver started refusing to take Japanese passengers. A social media campaign was launched against him (by an angry Japanese tourist) and his licence was suspended. I would say he deserved that, and I would say Mr Mizutani would deserve losing his stars if he can't think of a more acceptable way to protect his business against no-shows.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Have posted to Michelin's FB page. Suggest everyone that has an issue with this do the same. I will be pushing this message out to everyone I know.

https://www.facebook.com/MichelinGuides

2 ( +5 / -3 )

After 12 years here, I've become pretty desensitised to this kind of treatment. That said, I do make a point, however, to illustrate these instances to my Japanese wife. She used to brush it off but eventually, after experience situations with me, she could't deny it any more..and for those alluding that only foreigners are capable of being late to appointments/frequent cancellations, maybe I'm associating with a different group of Japanese people(hehe) cause they have no qualms about turning up late/flaking out.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

This is a common practise by foreigners. They will book three to four place and decide on the night which one they will eat at.

Any actual proof for this?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I love Gatten-Zushi (in Japan, its great). But in CA, there is no justice. The quality sucks, pickings are slim and its wayyy overpriced- - See more at: http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/michelin-star-sushi-restaurant-in-tokyo-defends-foreigner-rules#sthash.zCCkILJ3.dpuf

Oh Wc626 you NAILED it!!! When we first moved here a new friend excitedly took us to her local Gatten sushi to show us "we have sushi too"! We were....polite. Then we took her to a little place we found from rumor among the Japanese community - hole in the wall type place near Tustin. NOW she knows what sushi is supposed to taste like!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

What I love about sushi outside of Japan is how it has morphed and changed. But can still be good. California-style sushi is not a bad thing. May not be the original, but can be good. Like, at Hama Sushi in Venice Beach, CA. Good stuff.... for what it is.

Not dissimilar to what Japan has done with any number of foreign foods. Interpreted, but good.

This is the part about Sushi Mizutani that I think is the disappointment. He could be such an ambassador for traditional sushi and push it out, with some strict rules around reservations and guaranteed payments. But, no, he will become the sushi master who rejects/restricts foreigners based on his own arbitrary rules.... what a shame!!!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Yes!

A perfect display of Japanese mentality. O-MO-TE-NA-SHI...

If the Le Guide had any balls whatsoever, this place would lose its stars immediately. This kind of BS should not be tolerated. Hell, I think I'll write the Guide Michelin and promote this idea.

Disgusting, archaic, not to mention racist practices like this does not belong anywhere in 2015.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Totally support them. I love Japan but I take it how it is rather than how I'd like it to be. If they change things out of the goodness of their hearts I'll go along with that, but if they don't I won't complain. I respect their culture. I don't force my own cultures obsessions on them. This isn't out of malice, they just concentrate so much on themselves that they can't fit us in. It's up to them, we have NO right to criticise them.

-17 ( +3 / -20 )

Ahh racist Japan... yokoso!

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Why not just make it an “across-the-board policy” of not accepting bookings by any customers—unless they are made through a hotel concierge or a credit card company....problem solved.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

So many seem to relay similar issues in their posts. Not surprising.

It seems Sushi Mizutani is making it's own exclusivity issue based on the owner's wishes. What is surprising is how many will bother with complaint. It's just a restaurant not a hospital.

If they don't want foreigners, for what ever reason, is it really worth anyone's time to care when there are hundreds of restaurants glad for your business. Honestly, who would want to give these people money knowing the assumed "prejudice". Why reward bigots?

And just one more point. There are a dozen ways high end businesses of all types decide if a potential client/guest is welcome. Get over it.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Have posted to Michelin's FB page. Suggest everyone that has an issue with this do the same. I will be pushing this message out to everyone I know.

https://www.facebook.com/MichelinGuides

Thanks for the link! I've added my comment to their Facebook page. Michelin has been accused in the past (by one of their own reviewers) of "carrying-over" reviews from one year to the next because they only had 11 employees on the payroll to conduct the reviews. This was in in regards to the reviews in the European Guide. How much do you want to bet that Sushi Mizutani hasn't been actually evaluated in quite some time?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Chinese can be so loud and pushy these days. They should have 50% payment charged in advance To also deter competitors making false reservations. It's the restaurant that has the right to serve the customer ...

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

It's the restaurant that has the right to serve the customer ...

That's not quite correct. The restaurant has the right to refuse service to PEOPLE. They're only customers if the restaurant lets them in. This restaurant has made a blanket decision to prevent foreigners from making reservations. They certainly have a right to do so, but they then must accept responsibility for the fallout from their ill-advised policy. If Michelin removes the restaurant's rating, the only one to blame will be the restaurant's owner who decided on this policy.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

People! Its not racism. Its just bigotry based on race.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

When you are writing a protesting letter to them, don't forget when and which branch you are discriminated. Also, wirte what you were ordering (price), too. Then copy of your letter to proper Japanese authority. Do not forget to mention your nationality.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Not sure about the rest of the US but here in PA no one wants to be the first one to the party. BUT...dinner reservations are totally different than a party...and...BUT I would imagine that if you were lucky enough to get a reservation at a 4-Star restaurant if you are cancelling there is probably a very good reason why.

I think they are using the "cancelled reservations" as the excuse not to have foreigners in their establishment. And getting away with it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If a business in Japan is only interested in having Japanese clientele, that's the owner's prerogative. But that also means that being listed in a guide that many non-Japanese use to identify good restaurants would probably not be worth the trouble it would cause both for the owner and non-Japanese diners. So Michelin should remove the stars and the restaurant's listing in the guide.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I'm on the side of all those who got downvoted. I have lived here for 35 years, BY CHOICE. I cannot get a credit card by myself even though I have outstanding credit. And yes, it is because I am a foreigner but in no way do I see it as discrimination. At first, yes but then after doing alittle research I found that many foreigners, have skipped country leaving a large dedt to the credit companies. So, there is nothing wrong with an establishment protecting its business. I'm a foriegner in Japan and do the same. I am company owner and don't accept kids, anymore (20 and under) cause I've lost a lot of money and business due to sudden cancelations. Girl/boy friends, clubs, exams, overslept after school, just to name a few. So, if you get refused and you think its because you're a foreigner, go back to your country and plea with the people of your country to stop taking advantage of Japan's hospitality and pay your bills and be more respectful to the people who offer some of the best hospitality on this earth.

-13 ( +5 / -18 )

@since 1981

I cannot get a credit card by myself...because I am a foreigner but in no way do I see it as discrimination.

In that case you clearly don't understand the meaning of "discrimination".

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Back on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Two stars - whoopy doo, for raw fish on bland white rice. I'll stick to Yoshinoya and Coco Curry thank you very much.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

What frustrates me with Mizutani is that I absolutely don't think he is racist or bigoted. And I truly don't think he sees his policy as being discriminatory. Undoubtedly he thinks it is just good business sense, even if it is misguided. And, as with many Japanese chefs (and chefs around the world in general), he probably runs his place with an iron fist, meaning that it would be impossible for those working for him to advise him to take a different approach.

In that sense, this is a huge own goal, because I do think this will come back to bite him. It may not impact his business per se, given the reputation of his food, the small size of his establishment, and the inherent demand from those that want to eat there and can make reservations. But, his reputation in the international world will likely be dented. Discrimination, even if unintentional, does not play well in the 21st century.

What is the most ironic thing about Mizutani's approach is that the group he is penalising, effectively resident foreigners of Tokyo who aren't staying at a hotel or who don't have a "premium" credit card, are probably the ones who are least likely to cancel reservations/be no shows. Not to generalise, but at the prices being mentioned, these are the people that probably take their sushi very seriously. And have a better chance of knowing sushi etiquette, speaking Japanese and generally being respectful. No doubt if they were asked to provide a credit card guarantee and advised of a cancellation policy, they would't have any issue with this approach. I mean, isn't this what all hotels do these days?!

I don't fault Mizutani for trying to run a business and protecting himself, I just think he has chosen to go about it in a very misguided manner, particularly as there so many better ways to achieve the same goal.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I cannot get a credit card by myself even though I have outstanding credit.

Then I don't think you have outstanding credit. I have five credit cards here, including a gold card.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

"Chinese can be so loud and pushy these days"

So can Japanese.

"Two stars - whoopy doo, for raw fish on bland white rice"

Hey, that rice is not bland, it's got vinegar in it!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

For me a Michelin Guide rating is like a Grammy award: Good for the receiver but I see it as a reason to avoid it. Oh and I'm rich. People are always saying that money has been the ruin of me.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I am glad that Sushi Mizutani is getting negative press for this issue. I don't believe that foreigners are any more likely to cancel reservations than Japanese people are, and that this is a rather poor excuse to prevent foreigners from frequenting the restaurant. I have eaten at many Michelin star restaurants in Japan, and have never had any trouble making reservations, service is part of how a restaurant is rated. I will petition the Michelin guide to withdraw it's 2 star rating from Sushi Mizutani, and ask that they not consider granting Sushi MIzutani any stars in the future unless they stop discriminating against "foreigners", even when these "foreigners" are legal residents of Japan.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

"Two stars - whoopy doo, for raw fish on bland white rice" Fair enough. I like curry and gyudon but give me good sushi any day. Surprised we haven't tried to change the name from sushi to 'Vinegared Rice Bits' just as many refer to certain food as Beef Bowl, or is it BAWL, and Rice Balls.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's not racist or discrimination to foreigners but it's business practice. Who will pay 80,000 Yen if they didn't show up? If they have ordered course with like Ise Ebi Sashimi, Awabi Sashimi and Fugu Sashimi and then Restaurant needs to kill and prepare foods before customers arrived. If customers didn't show up and then it will be expensive lost for Restaurant. The customers need put themselves in Restaurant owner's shoes before they complaint for not taken their booking.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

Tatsuwashi is right though... Japanese are very punctual and it's just not that important in other countries. It is incredibly disrespectful, but even after expressing clearly that I want to be on time, friends are always late. Japanese are always 5mins early.

They should have a credit card charge, that'd solve the issue instantly.

And foreigners can just give a Japanese name (given they have good Japanese) and they'd be none the wiser until the time of booking - in which case, I doubt they'd turn down patrons waiting to be seated.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

@cleo "No, you told him you couldn't read the forms" No, I told him after he had already formed his assumptions about me. He wouldn't make eye-contact with or interact with my tutor either because he saw him as a foreigner too (see next paragraph). "Bears no relation at all to a person like Mr. Mo who has lived in Japan 3 decades"

Actually, it does. My tutor is ethnically Japanese. He was born in Japan but grew up in many countries -Japan included- and his behaviour isn't always stereotypically Japanese. When seen with non-Japanese folks he often gets treated like a foreigner as well, though he doesn't mind it and sometimes actually enjoys being treated like one in his own country due to the different perspective it affords him.

Because the first speech from my tutor that this guy heard was non-Japanese-accented English and because his dress and behaviour were a little more typical of a Westerner than a local, the guy at the themepark treated him like a foreigner as well until after we'd gone over the form and I explained I wouldn't be able to fill it in, but that I was fine with not being allowed to use the Sedgeways. Understand? Anti-foreigner treatment prior to explanation, enthusiastic and open engagement after explanation.

@Tessa "What I didn't advise was a blanket ban on all middle-aged Japanese housewives" @smithinjapan "and then suddenly he was refused" They weren't refused nor outright banned, they were told to jump through extra hoops. If they were outright refused they wouldn't be given any option with which to make their booking at all.

"So you admit they are racist" He said "being called" racist, not "being" racist. Lots of people get called racists for behaviour or remarks of theirs which aren't racist, they're just viewed as racist by external parties. "As I said, take away their stars period, unless they change their policy and allow the Chinese man to come in, with his meal on the house and the best seat in the restaurant, and the chef/owner personally apologizing and bowing on the floor"

Why not instead simply not patronise them owing to your disagreement with their policies and take your business elsewhere rather than try to dictate to an establishment you're unlikely to have ever known about if not for the news how they should behave?

Do you try to dictate to the Westboro Baptist Church in America that they should change their ways as well? I'm confident that if you're not familiar with them and go read up about them you'd take issue with what they do, too, but unless what they're doing directly impacts you it's not necessarily your battle to fight, it's those they do affect's battle.

@Jimizo "Should a Roman exclude the Japanese from ordering spaghetti in his or her restaurant after hearing the Japanese make an almighty racket when eating noodles?" They should have the right to. If some customers cause problems/discomfort for other customers, it should be within the establishment's rights to decide that the customers causing the problems/discomfort not be allowed to dine there.

Think about it. If 'bikers' are typically noisy, swear a lot and get into loud, drunken arguments or even fights even when in a family-oriented restaurant, should it not be within the restaurant's rights to decide they will not cater to bikers or to have a policy aimed at keeping bikers' behaviour in toe? This sushi restaurant certainly doesn't absolutely exclude non-nationals, it just makes it harder for them to make reservations there. That other restaurant with policies for bikers to adhere to wouldn't absolutely exclude them from going there, but it does expect of them to behave in a manner accepted by the establishment or to leave if they can't.

Those sorts of policies primarily aimed at the bikers are discriminatory. It discerns (please, everyone, go look up the definition of the word 'discriminate' already) the bikers from the non-bikers and attributes a typically-demonstrated behaviour to them. In America there are apparently restaurants/diners near highways which have entire sections specific to truckers. I, oddly, don't hear a bunch of people getting their knickers in a twist about this sort of policy of segregating truckers from non-truckers in these places.

There are all sorts of 'discriminatory' policies attributable to dining establishments which people very happily oblige or even encourage. Separated restrooms for men and women is just one of them; and it's worth noting there are many places which have unisex toilets yet somehow don't seem to receive notable complaints from their customers, just as people happily don't complain about separate restrooms.

@smithinjapan "and perhaps that forthwith you will refuse to go to any Michelin restaurant if they do not take away at least one star"

@zones2surf "Good suggestion. This has already been picked up by at least one Aussie news organisation and I have pushed it out to a few people I know to get it disseminated"

Until this article popped up, had either of you ever heard of this place? If not, do you think you would've been likely to happen across it while in Japan and then been surprised at being denied service? Or do you think it would've just remained some obscure little place you don't know about and don't ever visit?

Now imagine all the people you're going to try to get to cause problems for this place because you took issue with it despite (I'm assuming) never having heard of it before but happened to from the internet.

Tell you what; if you truly believe you need to take this up with Michelin despite it not necessarily impacting you directly, why don't you start harassing Julius Malema too? He's proactively trying to destroy an entire country with his racism-driven agendas.

I feel you and some others are being highly selective in directing your energies here, and I find people exhibiting behaviour like yours much worse than this restaurant owner's policies.

Instead of raving about how Michelin should remove their stars and remove them from their guides, it'd be better for their guides to be more forthcoming about the restrictions the establishment has on who can/can't dine there or what requirements there are of prospective diners. Not unlike an establishment having a coat and tie dress code which, if not adhered to, denies one admission.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

It's not racist or discrimination to foreigners but it's business practice.

Based on? Have a think...

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I think you're missing the key point that the man in the story IS a local... but he is being treated differently because his parents gave him a Chinese name.

I bet whatever happened here, he did not provide that information to the restaurant. Of course, it likely won't have helped, but he probably didn't provide it.

It would be very different if they asked for everyone's address and then treated people living outside of Tokyo or even Japan differently. Then it would be discrimination by location, not by race.

Frankly, I don't see why discrimination by location is worse than discrimination by race.

Further, I don't think you're trying to engage the real thrust of my argument: There are a lot of people who claim he should be treated the same though the restaurant clearly assesses him to be among a "high-risk" group, either by eating any losses that occur (ultimately, this bounces back to everyone in an increased price) or by making things less convenient for the low-risk group. I disagree - this actually shafts the low-risk group.

I must also point out that while the official solution is to use a hotel or credit card company as intermediary and guarantor, am I the only one to notice the UNofficial solution of using any random Japanese with a credit card to make the booking and any prepayment? You can "substitute" him at the last minute, and if one of the friends Mr. Mo invites is Japanese, he can skip even that. What are they going to do, turn you away? If you can't get ANY Japanese to do you this favor, what does this say about you?

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Theo Lubbe: "Lots of people get called racists for behaviour or remarks of theirs which aren't racist, they're just viewed as racist by external parties."

Fortunately, or rather not, I should think, in this case it is very clear cut. It's discrimination, plain and simple. You can't tell me you honestly don't think it's discrimination. And it's discrimination based on race. Hence, it is racism.

"Why not instead simply not patronise them owing to your disagreement with their policies and take your business elsewhere rather than try to dictate to an establishment you're unlikely to have ever known about if not for the news how they should behave?"

I've known about this place for quite some time, as a matter of fact -- this is not the first time he has refused, and yes they did refuse the reservation at that time, did they not? saying he must first make a reservation by using their 'foreigner rules'. Or, are you telling us that they did NOT refuse the reservation, that they accepted it, and instead told him they would wait for the extra hoops to be jumped through, keeping his reservation in place until he did? No, they did not. As such, it is a flat out refusal.

As for why not just not patronize the place -- don't worry, I would never set foot in a place that would allow me to pay money -- if they didn't also refuse me based on their racist policy -- so they can spit in my face. That does NOT mean they should not be criticized or reviewed based on said racist policy. You may be more than happy to turn a blind eye, shrug and try a "shouga nai ne" and simply hope if you cross your fingers the world might change for the better while you do squat. I pray that no one is being harassed or beaten or anything if you are the only one nearby to witness it or help out with the 'not my place to do anything' attitude.

"Until this article popped up, had either of you ever heard of this place? "

Already said yes, so so much for that question.

"I feel you and some others are being highly selective in directing your energies here, and I find people exhibiting behaviour like yours much worse than this restaurant owner's policies."

How's that? because we don't sit back and allow racism like you suggest we do? That we don't adopt a "when in Rome" attitude and instead lament the fact that people are so ACCEPTING (nudge nudge) of this kind of thing that it will never change so long as no one speaks up? Sorry, bro, but that's utter nonsense. People have the right to object to the policies of this restaurant and places like it, especially if they are living/working here and have been subjected to it, but even if they have not and have just watched the nation appeal for more foreign travel and express their desire to host international events saying they welcome everyone in the world... so long as they don't come to THEIR establishment.

I mean, the guy is PROUD of this Michelin star rating, and people brag about it. correct me if I'm wrong, but is Michelin not a foreign group?

"...it'd be better for their guides to be more forthcoming about the restrictions the establishment has on who can/can't dine there or what requirements there are of prospective diners."

Yeah, starting with: "If you're a foreigner, don't expect the same treatment as a Japanese, if you get a seat at all."

"Not unlike an establishment having a coat and tie dress code which, if not adhered to, denies one admission."

Bad comparison. A better one would be if a restaurant has a 'dress code', but that dress code is not open to all, and they won't let you in if you're 'wearing' black skin. You're suggesting everyone is treated the same way at this restaurant regardless of background, when they are not, as they would be with a dress code. So long as they wore the appropriate dress, they would be in. Being Japanese is not an article of clothing you can simply choose.

No, I think it's more than fine to want Michelin to take away this restaurant's stars, or be painted for advertising restaurants that practice racist policies. They use the name of a foreign guide to boost their popularity and reputation, but would turn owners down based on their name (if they didn't know beforehand they were Michelin).

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Theo - while you have appeared to define discrimination as simply a matter of business discernment, you nowhere directly say what that discernment is based on in this case, and without reservation, it is firmly based on a persons name hence their perceived ethnicity.

There is no point ranting on about smelly drunks, bikers, truckers, baptists et al as that's just a deliberate distraction to the main event - which is a case of discerning(discriminatory) behaviour against a potential client purely because of his innocuous sounding name. And the name hints he is of Chinese extraction, so "no go".

Simple case of bigotry and prejudice.

As a solution to his business problems, the owners actions are near sighted in the least, especially considering his business has been postively appraised by an international organization and publicized the world over. In light of this, aside from a human rights issue, the issue of his business acumen is highly questionable, considering Asian tourist boom, olympics etc.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

A. In this restaurant a Japanese name automatically makes you a trustworthy customer who would never make any cancelations. Everybody else, the rest of the world that is, is automatically potentially unreliable and troublemaking customers that need to follow specific rules to dine there. Some people can insist that this is the restaurant's policy and they have the right to accept and refuse whoever customer they want and on whatever terms they choose but the customers and the readers here have also the right to label this kind of thinking as discriminatory and racist (which it is) and slam the restaurant for this policy.

B. Can someone explain how "not accepting bookings by non-Japanese customers, unless they are made through a hotel concierge or a credit card company" ensures there will be no cancelations? Because it just sounds ludicrous to me.

C. Following what logic a restaurant accepts bookings made through a credit card company but also accepts only cash for payment?

D. If they prefer Japanese customers so much, they should simply remove themselves from Michelin.

E. For every 100 perfectly friendly and wonderful Japanese establishments there is always bound to be one that is stuck to the isolation era of the 17th century choosing narrow-mindedness and vacuity.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Frankly, I don't see why discrimination by location is worse than discrimination by race.

Kazuaki, surely you understand that while one can change one's location, one can never change one's race. (You can change your name and claim to be "Mr. Tanaka" when making the reservation, which would then be accepted, and when paying the bill once you arrive, but this is a drastic solution.)

I must also point out that while the official solution is to use a hotel or credit card company as intermediary and guarantor, am I the only one to notice the UNofficial solution of using any random Japanese with a credit card to make the booking and any prepayment? ... If you can't get ANY Japanese to do you this favor, what does this say about you?

It says that I have a healthy respect for personal boundaries. You would seriously ask someone to reserve a table at an expensive sushi restaurant on their credit card just because their name won't get them rejected like yours would? If you were entertaining clients? I would feel flushed with embarrassment having to ask a friend to borrow 200 yen for the train if I were suddenly without cash, let alone for a sushi restaurant costing tens of thousands.

No, I would find a restaurant where my name, birthplace, and money were as good as my neighbor's.

And I would write to Michelin to have that discriminatory restaurant de-starred post-haste.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@since1981. Your bank issues you DEBIT card as much as of amount in your bank accoun, you vzn spend. If you have a business in Japan, ask your employee accountant about details.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@smithinjapan "And it's discrimination based on race. Hence, it is racism" A name does not infer race, it infers a name. I shouldn't really need to expand on this beyond indicating I have a South African friend who is of mixed ethnicity who looks Japanese, has a full Japanese name, but is just about wholly South African in culture and upbringing. Until recently, they couldn't speak any Japanese at all and hadn't been to Japan since they were a child. Unless you're using the much broader definition of 'racist' which includes concepts of xenophobia and cultural bigotry -neither of which I accept as definitions of the term- you're misusing it. If this restaurant is engaging in any particularly bigoted act it's xenophobia, as they're presuming the nationality of someone based on their name and making things more difficult for people they consider 'foreigners'. "and yes they did refuse the reservation at that time, did they not? saying he must first make a reservation by using their 'foreigner rules'"

They didn't refuse his reservation, they indicated there's a prerequisite he must meet after which his reservation should, space permitting, be accepted.

What you're suggesting is akin to someone's booking of a ticket to a baseball game being 'refused' because they haven't paid for it yet being discrimination or even being told to leave and never come back. There's a massive difference between these two outcomes.

"That does NOT mean they should not be criticized or reviewed based on said racist policy"

How can you review a place you havn't patronised? A review by its very definition is made for something which has been experienced in part or in full. If your reservation is declined for any reason, whether being unable to go because the place is closed for maintenance or because your reservation was wholly-rejected for any reason, you have only previewed them, not experienced what they have to offer for the sake of review. I cannot review a baseball game I have only been unable to purchase a ticket for for whatever reason, I can only preview it.

"I pray that no one is being harassed or beaten or anything if you are the only one nearby to witness it or help out with the 'not my place to do anything' attitude"

There's a VERY big difference between something which is happening in your immediate vicinity which directly negatively impacts on the wellbeing of you or someone else and a policy which people willingly choose to subject themselves to. I don't have any reason to believe you are being directly negatively impacted by this place's policy, nor that anyone else is being directly negatively impacted by it to a degree which merits concern. If your reservation attempts at a place are consisntently unsuccessful you go find another place to dine at. The only difference here is having a disagreeable reason behind why the reservation attempt is (initially) unsuccessful.

In particular though, the likely fact it doesn't directly negatively impact on your life gives no merit to your insistence on blackening their name.

"People have the right to object to the policies of this restaurant and places like it" They have a right to object. They do not have a right to incite nor engage in defamatory behaviour against it without evidence for legitimate reasons. Being made to jump through hoops because one is suspected to not be a Japanese national is not a legitimate reason to defame them.

That other reservations people talk about have been rejected could be down to any number of reasons; do you or they have something like a recorded telephone conversation with the restaurant's staff where your hotel/credit card company concierge contacted them yet were still refused on the basis that your names aren't Japanese?

If consistently told they have no room for your reservation, have you or these other people asked them to reserve for the next available opening, only to be told they magically don't have any openings for months or even years in advance?

"but even if they have not and have just watched the nation appeal for more foreign travel and express their desire to host international events saying they welcome everyone in the world... so long as they don't come to THEIR establishment" Okay, and? If I were running a restaurant I honestly at this point wouldn't welcome you there. I'd be treating anyone else I don't know as a valued customer, but I wouldn't value your patronage in particular because I have reason to dislike you. I retain the right to hold this position, and while you can view it as discriminatory, it's my restaurant and my right to deny you admission.

"You're suggesting everyone is treated the same way at this restaurant regardless of background, when they are not, as they would be with a dress code" Where is your proof that once at the restaurant people who behave acceptably or the same as anyone else are treated significantly differently to those who don't? Having to jump through extra hoops to make a reservation is NOT one of those. Foreign nationals who aren't permanent residents in most countries have to jump through a bunch of extra hoops for a wide variety of things; are you decrying those, too? Why are they being discriminated against based purely on the fact they're foreigners? For that matter, nationals from some countries are granted more or less time than others from other countries when visiting Japan, the same as applies in many other countries. Have you ever begun lobbying against that as well?

"No, I think it's more than fine to want Michelin to take away this restaurant's stars" Your words have demonstrated you don't 'want' it, but that you 'demand' it. I have no issue with people 'wanting' that, I have a very big issue with people trying to dictate what should be done about the matter. If there is good reason to demand their stars be revoked which can be backed up with proof, I'd be all for it. I don't think this policy at face value is a good reason.

@browny1 I don't say what it's based on because I, like everyone else in this article's comments, do not have absolute facts to base my assertions on. For all I know the reasoning behind their policies are in fact nothing but bigotry, or they could be based on rational reasons. I don't know. I'm not going to follow suit with some other people and begin attacking them and their reputation out of a lack of understanding for their motives, however.

I've been seeing people who have non-Chinese & non-Japanese names whose reservations were also denied on a few sites. That this man's name is specifically Chinese evidently has nothing to do with this matter in the end. I don't doubt that if I phoned them before this debacle they'd have denied my reservation as well. I wouldn't be surprised if before this whole debacle I'd also be required to make my reservation through a credit card company or hotel concierge, and I'd be absolutely okay with having to do so.

@Pidestroika Rather; A) it's closer to having a Japanese name apparently making you statistically less likely to be a no-show B) "ensures there will be no cancelations?" It doesn't. It grants a means of billing the people who don't show up. That way there's no loss of profit. C) Japan is a cash-based society. There are plenty of places which, while they may be able to work with cards, highly-prefer working with cash. Being billable through your hotel or credit card company just gives them a means of quickly and efficiently following up with getting their money from you which doesn't involve having to track you down, wherever you are.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

@Kazuaki Shimazaki

Further, I don't think you're trying to engage the real thrust of my argument: There are a lot of people who claim he should be treated the same though the restaurant clearly assesses him to be among a "high-risk" group, either by eating any losses that occur (ultimately, this bounces back to everyone in an increased price) or by making things less convenient for the low-risk group. I disagree - this actually shafts the low-risk group.

Basically, you are re-hashing the arguments of whites-only business owners in the southern US states and assuming that your economic arguments are new and trump everything else. I think the thrust of your argument is that in some cases it might be profitable or cost-saving to discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity. What you seem to ignore is that people and governments have decided that the harm this causes to society in general outweighs any private gain to customers and business owners. (In the same way that polluting might be highly profitable for individuals but harmful to society).

The UN members, including Japan, didn't adopt the international convention to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination because it was a good for business. They did it because it was good for society. You shouldn't be allowed to engage in business if you are harming society. And despite what some people might believe, owning a private business is not a legal right.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Simple - don't like it, don't eat there. Discrimination in Japan? Sure, I've experienced it myself. Certainly don't like it, but are all of my cries of "discrimination!" going to have any effect? Not really.

Simple matter is if all the foreigners who did a no-show weren't such jerks, there wouldn't be such a problem. The owner didn't say he didn't like foreigners, just that it's a pain in the rear (and wallet) if they don't show up.

As for requiring up front payment when a reservation is made, well restaurants simply don't do that here. There's this trust that if you make a reservation, you'll actually show up. If you don't, you break that trust. If everyone from your family behaved the same way, you'd stop serving the whole family.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Theo, kyo hima desu ne! Mizutani should definitely ogoranakya

"Statistically" based on whose statistics? Where does it say the restaurant based their decisions on records they keep. Treating a customer based on their name some call it "racism" others "discrimination". You water it down and say "xenophobia" (fear of strangers). How about the Japanese singer who was recently sat in the back of a European hotel's restaurant because he was "asian". I guess you could call that "xenophobia" too, right? Exactly the same people who criticized and condemned that hotel's behavior, condemn Mizutani's. And you know, they don't have to sit and eat at that hotel's restaurant to "review" it.

And since you like examples (usually irrelevant) so much here's one for you: Was at a fairly big Japanese restaurant in Ikebukuro's "Sunshine city" waiting for our menu. A Japanese customer with a friend of his showed up on a wheel chair. The restaurant did not have any ramp and "apologized" for not being able to serve them as there was "no space" for the wheel chair to maneuver, even though the restaurant was almost empty. They left and so did we. Following you logic this is not discriminatory and nobody should criticize the restaurant for this. It's just "xenophobia". Thankfully that one closed down after a while.

Get a life dude.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The owner didn't say he didn't like foreigners, just that it's a pain in the rear (and wallet) if they don't show up.

But it's people who live in foreign countries that don't show up. Nothing to do with foreigners living in Japan. Just ask for an address and check the phone number when making the reservation.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Theo:

Of course I had heard of Sushi Mizutani. And its Michelin stars. Before I read this article. Look, I was born and raised in Japan. I have spent the bulk of my adult life in Japan. And have frequented a number of the places in the Michelin Guide.

The point I have tried to make repeatedly is that, while there may be a legitimate business reason why Mizutani has implemented this policy, it is misguided and it impacts the very people who do want to go to this type of place. Like me. I have been a long term resident of Japan, I speak extremely good Japanese, and I love really good sushi. I may not want to pay these prices on a personal basis, but I may want to take a business contact to a business dinner there. Why should I have to jump through these hoops purely because of my nationality? Particularly when there are far better ways to address the underlying business reason for this misguided policy.

Look, I love Japan. It is my second home and I want the very best for its future. I also know that change does not come easy in Japan ( or any country, for that matter), particularly when people may not understand the wrongness of what they are doing. If I could, I would sit across the table from Mr. Mizutani and tell him exactly what I am writing here, that how he is going about this is completely wrong, even if he is not motivated by anything other than pure business motivations.

But I can't. So, what I can do is use the mechanisms available to me to try and shine a light on this. Perhaps with pressure, Michelin will contact Mizutani regarding this and he will make changes that address his business needs in a non-discriminatory manner. That would be the ideal outcome. And, in the process, perhaps the idea of a Michelin starred restaurant being highlighted for discriminatory booking practices based on nationality will shine a light on this issue. Which does exist.

Of course, it is just a restaurant. One of thousands in Tokyo. There are far more important issues in the world today. But, equally, it sometimes take little efforts here and there to result in broader changes over time.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Perhaps with pressure, Michelin will contact Mizutani regarding this and he will make changes that address his business needs in a non-discriminatory manner. That would be the ideal outcome.

I don't know if that's the ideal outcome. Then foreigners will go to the restaurant of this discriminatory guy, without realizing who he really is. I'd prefer that Michelin just remove him from their list, so foreigners will be less likely to find his restaurant.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It says in the article they accept bookings from anybody and their grandma if you use a credit card, so do just that and stop whining.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

@Magnus,

Read the article again. That is not what it says. If you are a foreigner, you have to book through a hotel (meaning a hotel concierge, which assumes you are a hotel guest), or you have to do it through a credit card company, which I believe means something like AMEX Platinum Card Concierge Service or the like.

So, no, it is not what you state. If it was, this amount of ink would not have been expended on this. If you are a Tokyo resident not staying at a hotel and just have a regular box standard credit card that doesn't have a concierge service, you are out of luck.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@Magnus Roe

zones2surf is right. When they say booking through a credit card (not with) they are talking about is a special service. Some of the credit card companies charge $400-500 per year for this.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Seriously though, who would pay 30,000 yen for a few pieces of sushi other than Shinzo Abe and those who have money to burn and don't care about wasting it?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@Serrano:

True dat. And I doubt even Abe would pay for it if he had to pay for it out of his own pocket. In my case, it would be for a business dinner where the whole intent would be to impress my business contact because of the reputation and exclusivity. Which sounds like a monumental waste of money, but then again, isn't that true of a lot of "settai"?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This restaurant is highly exclusive.

Yes, class, exclusivity and discrimination are just different faces of the same beast. Once we oust rank-ism, this form of discrimation will no longer exist, anywhere.

The reaction sadly within Japan I fear will most likely be a vague blend of apathy, ignorance, sub-conscious sympathy/nationalist/isolationist/self-inferiority/defensiveness, with only a fraction of genuine disapproval and/or opposition.

Japan does change, but the conciliatory attitudes shown by this string shows just how far we have to go, even amongst the foreign community.

The even greater enemy, is (because of their raising) the utter inability of many Japanese to perceive this problem and discuss it in any coherent terms. This process of change, I fear also, will only come with newer generations, who I see exhibiting palply more clear-minded expression.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

he is going about this is completely wrong

zone2surf, You haven't even heard what Mizutani has to say, you don't know first hand what problems he has had with foreign tourists, it is like Kennedy criticized Taichi people on dolphin hunt without going there and talk to them. You guys are not careful people. When you criticize and act against somebody you have to be very careful because those actions might affect them greatly. I feel you and many others here have assumption that the Japanese people are basically wrong and stupid. Otherwise why can you say "wrong" to the Japanese all the time?

who would pay 30,000 yen for a few pieces of sushi

Serrano, You can only get a reservation for one month later so there are lots of people who would pay. And lots of rich Chinese tourists everywhere now.

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

And lots of rich Chinese tourists everywhere now.

Yeah, and once word gets out to the Chinese, you can say goodbye to their money. I know, you don't like them, but you want their money.

I wonder what Gackt has to say about all this, or am I going to hear nothing but crickets.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

tinawatanabe

You haven't even heard what Mizutani has to say, you don't know first hand what problems he has had with foreign tourists

He's not rejecting people based on their tourist status (not that that would be acceptable either). It is based on names indicating that the person is "non-Japanese" - a tricky concept in itself, if I were only to consider my own family, children, my friends, the children of my friends, and the various names they go by...

I don't particularly need to know what he has to say, only that he has a rule that is applied to people he suspects of being foreign and not in the care of a Japanese minder. I take this in the context of his Michelin stars more than anything else, Michelin being French, absurdly prestigious, and recommending restaurants to all comers. It was great that Japan snagged so many stars, considerably less great that one restaurant on their list has a discriminatory policy that would exclude even a Michelin inspector.

Michelin applies high standards, and I hope it turns out that one of these standards is that they won't accept restaurants who apply a rule like this. I'm not especially optimistic on that score, but we'll see how this goes. Losing a star is a kick in the nuts for a restaurant at the best of times. Losing it for this reason (not that Michelin is likely to state why they were doing it) would be a quite a humiliation. A self-inflicted injury however, and one that other restaurants in Japan can learn from.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@tinawatanabe:

Actually, what I am relying on is what his restaurant/the staff themselves have said. So, I do know the issue they are facing. Based on what they themselves said to the reporter.

I also did not say I was unsympathetic with his potential legitimate business reasons for wanting to reduce cancellations, which, by the restaurant's policy, he believes disproportionately occurs with non-Japanese.

I also did not say that I think he is racist or a bigot or anything like that, because he does, in fact allow foreigners make reservations, just with some special procedures. Instead, I just said that his method/policy for addressing his business problem is misguided and needs to be addressed.

The real irony is this. Actually, if the issue with cancellations is with foreign tourists, the ones that stay in hotels, they will still be able to make reservations, via the hotel concierge. The people that WON'T be able to make reservations are the long-standing non-Japanese residents of Tokyo who aren't staying at a hotel and don't have a premium credit card with concierge services. Someone like me.

The silliness of this is that my wife, who is Japanese can call up, make the reservation in her name and with her keitai number, we then pitch up to the restaurant, and I pay with my credit card. But if I call directly, no can do. And how does that not make me like a 2nd class person?! When all he has to do is just institute a reservation guarantee policy, with a credit card to hold the reservation and a cancellation charge if a no-show. Problem solved.

In the end, he is, at this point, free to do what he wants. But, equally, I don't think he should have the benefit of any Michelin stars if he is going to put in place a policy that effectively discriminates on the basis of nationality.

And, finally, you think I believe all Japanese people are wrong and stupid? Really?? Right... trust me, I would never get away with telling my wife that she is wrong and stupid.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

ThonTaddeoAPR. 29, 2015 - 03:49PM JST

Kazuaki, surely you understand that while one can change one's location, one can never change one's race.

When you take into account the various difficulties involved in moving, and the fact we are talking about dinner at a restaurant here, discrimination by location is IMO practically on par as a wall compared to one's race. Even if there is a difference, it is small enough that I just don't see "Race, No. Location ... umm, maybe OK" as you seem to be suggesting.

And I won't falsify my name - it could get messy when checking the name versus what's on the credit card :-)

You would seriously ask someone to reserve a table at an expensive sushi restaurant on their credit card just because their name won't get them rejected like yours would?

I would. After all, I'm still paying. He's just putting up a credit card and his name. I have my relatives use their credit card on my behalf all the time simply because some discount is on only for their credit card. If my dinner-mate's credit card even offers a discount for the target restaurant, it's his credit card as far as I'm concerned even if it's my treat. I'll just pay him elsewhere.

If he's really embarassed at asking his dinner-mate, surely he has an appropriate subordinate or friend. My point is that this is not really such a high wall, with plenty of options around. If your pride doesn't allow it, that's you closing off your options.

@M3M3M3APR. 29, 2015 - 04:46PM JST

Basically, you are re-hashing the arguments of whites-only business owners in the southern US states and assuming that your economic arguments are new and trump everything else.

I don't pretend they are new. I'm just surprised how few people even stretched to think that far. I also don't pretend they must trump everything else, but it'd be nice if this group can maintain a sufficiently even keel to not downvote anyone that even tries to think of the equation's other parts.

When the world decided to fight against discrimination, they were at a situation where a person of the wrong race cannot enter any respectable establishment. It is easy to establish the a societal harm under utilitarian principles. However, we are talking about a person being slightly inconvenienced (with a number of workarounds) over entering one particular establishment, which makes the win-loss parameter both much smaller and much harder to define.

IMO we are at that part of the discrimination curve where we have to consider whether further squelching of discrimination may bring higher societal costs than gain. And that's a happy position to be in.

Besides, if you really want to say that elimination of discrimination is worth all costs, then why not bite the bullet? Grant the guy's assumptions as "Perhaps true (because ultimately, you don't know)", and then say "Even so, He should choke it down as a price for a fair society." Or say "It is perfectly OK for him to transfer the cost of any such losses to his other customers."

But no one is willing to bite the bullet like that, right? Even under the cover of pennames and in the irresponsible arena of a comment thread. So, perhaps we should not be so contemptuous of a decision, however we much we may dislike, is actually backed by real cash.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I hope this restaurant loses its Michelin stars for this discriminatory behaviour. I wonder if they would allow a reservation from a non-Japanese Michelin reviewer?

The restaurant says "We have an increasing number of cases in which people are abandoning their reservations". Given that they don't accept reservations from non-Japanese I assume all these no-shows are Japanese. Therefore the "logic" of banning non-Japanese is quite confused.

The no-show problem is easy to solve: pay a deposit up front. But, of course, this is just an excuse trotted out by the restaurant to try to justify its discrimination. The other typical excuse is "we can't communicate with non-Japanese". Pathetic.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

StrangerlandApr. 29, 2015 - 08:49AM JST

Then I don't think you have outstanding credit. I have five credit cards here, including a gold card.

3 car loans and a 40 mil + house loan, 20 years service to the bank, one would assume is good credit. Can I assume you are married to a Japanese? I also have credit cards but only after I got remaried to a Japanese. Still say people (any nationalilty) will do what they have to do to PROTECT their business, their bread and butter, etc.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Kazuaki Shimazaki

Besides, if you really want to say that elimination of discrimination is worth all costs, then why not bite the bullet? Grant the guy's assumptions as "Perhaps true (because ultimately, you don't know)", and then say "Even so, He should choke it down as a price for a fair society."

Yes, I'm very willing to bite that bullet because that's exactly what I would say. But of course, that's a bit of a red herring because I'm sure we both agree that it's simply not the case that foreigners don't show up because they are foreigners. However, everyone might be less likely to show up because they don't live in Tokyo. It's common sense.

I completely sympathize with the problem he has, but his solution is not only illogical but it harms society. What stops someone from not showing up even if they have made a reservation through a hotel or credit card concierge? Nothing. In reality, Mizutani is probably just equating proxies for wealth with a likelihood of showing up. But, as others have pointed out, it's much more likely that a high flying wealthy customer staying at a top Japanese hotel with a platinum card will be much more likely to miss their reservation. They have many more important place to be and things to do. I'd love to go over his records and find out what the reality is.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

M3M3M3 - "Just ask for an address and check the phone number when making the reservation."

And what good will that do if the person still doesn't show up. Go send the Yaks after the flaky foreigners?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

If you think that this restaurant's behaviour was deplorable, simply complain to Michelin. If enough people do so, then they might investigate and/or remove the stars. Put pressure on them and they will drop such undesirable connections in a heartbeat.

Nothing speaks louder to racist little holes in the wall than a lack of money and prestige coming their way.

http://www.michelintravel.com/contact-us/
-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@Jalapeno

If the person lives or is calling from overseas (or outside of Tokyo) then I think it's perfectly acceptable to say that the high statistical probability of them being a no-show (if that's actually true) means that they must be in Japan before a reservation can be made. It's reasonable.

I think part of the problem here is that by being featured in the Michelin guide, Mizutani probably recieves a huge number of speculative reservations from people living overseas who haven't even booked their flight to Japan. Unfortunately, he and his staff probably can't distinguish between foreigners living overseas and those living in Japan. But I'm sure if they somehow kept records and asked people they would find that those living in Japan show up at the same rate as local Japanese people.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Simple enough solution: Require a credit card at the time of the reservation. Put an automatic 20,000 or 30,000 yen per person charge on the card for no-shows and last-minute cancellations. It applies to all customers. Problem solved.

If the restaurant's excuse is that Japanese customers would not like this, I wonder if Japanese customers would like walking through a bunch of protestors holding signs every time they go to eat at the place. Surely a cancellation fee would be less painful, especially since all Japanese customers always show up, so that the fee would never apply to them

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Sushi Mizutani discriminates against foreign-born individuals, even if they are currently Japanese residents:

I called trying to make a reservation tonight, and was told that because I was a foreigner I would need to make a reservation through my hotel or my credit card's concierge service. I explained (in Japanese) that I've lived in Japan for 23 years and am a permanent resident, and that as I don't have a platinum card I'm unable to use Visa's concierge service. They told me I'm out of luck. Truly despicable.

Reviewer: "WesleyPesley" http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g1066444-d1177310-Reviews-Sushi_Mizutani-Chuo_Tokyo_Tokyo_Prefecture_Kanto.html

4 ( +4 / -0 )

zones2surf, how do you know this reporter is writing the article objectively and fairly. I notice AFP is often carrying inaccurate article not favorable for Japan.

Probably Mizutani does not care so much about Michelin star after went through so much trouble. But I wouldn't act on this one piece of article like sending complaint.

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

@massiou81APR. 28, 2015 - 04:41PM JST So if the next Michelin inspector coming to this place happen to be a non-japanese, I believe Mizutani can say bye to his stars.

==============================================================

Restaurants ranking. Those people who grade food, they don;t make appointment, They appear lining up with other customers and they order all food in ,menu. They eat little bit but all others they ask to go containers.

Credit cards: Phone requests of reservation has nothing to do with your credit card status such as Platinum, Gold, Silver, etc. Some restaurants may have multi liguistic waiters but often, not. If you can't get credit card, feel lucky. Annual fee for credit card is not like free Visa cards your banks issue to you.

Mizutani employees probably figured three Chinese speakimg guests.

Just complaining with rumor is not a good idea. You may receive a shbpoena to appear in a court if Mizutani sues for business harrassment or Won sues against mizutani practice of racial discrimination.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Since I saw some comments based on misunderstanding, I would like to point out one basic fact about Mizutani: We cannot use credit cards at this restaurant. (It is written in several blogs and tweets: for example https://twitter.com/posit1vegamma/status/592625549501018112)

I know it would be helpful if they accept credit cards (so they might charge deposit) or have several options for booking, for example online booking. However, considering its size (it only has 10 seats) and its staffs (they are not digital natives), it is not hard to imagine they simply cannot afford to introduce such system and take time to learn how to use it.

Of course, as a Japanese, I feel sorry for that Chinese guy, and I think Mizutani should do their best to welcome foreign customers, as a restaurant awarded Michelin stars. But at the same time, I can understand Mizutani had to make ends meet (what if four out of ten seats are cancelled without deposit) and I want all of you who are reading my comment to understand the difficult situation such small and not internationalized restaurants are facing.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@tinawatanabe:

The point of the comment section here is to comment on the article and its contents, including what the restaurant is reported to have said. That is what I have been doing. I am working on the assumption that what is being reported here is correct and factual. I have no reason to believe otherwise, unless/until the restaurant denies or disputes the report.

However, let's assume for a minute that what you are saying is possibly true, that this is all a big misunderstanding by the restaurant. Two points I would make.

First, I would refer you to a Trip Advisor review done a couple of months ago, the link for which I included earlier, where the reviewer described a virtually similar experience. I did, actually, take some time to see if there was any corroborating evidence even though I am not a journalist. Here is that link again.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g1066444-d1177310-r254424352-Sushi_Mizutani-Chuo_Tokyo_Tokyo_Prefecture_Kanto.html#CHECK_RATES_CONT

So, again, the article does seem to accurately capture their policy.

Second, in contacting Michelin, it is my assumption that, if they were to consider taking any action, they would contact Mizutani first to seek clarification. I mean, this is, after all, a reflection on Michelin as well, as they have effectively endorsed Mizutani with these stars. Therefore, I would well imagine they would want to ensure that what has been represented is, in fact, true before taking any further action.

So, I have absolutely no issue with sending comments to Michelin based on this one article. I have not organised a boycott nor a demonstration in front of the restaurant, so the actions I have taken so far are, I think, entirely reasonable and measured.

And again, I have tried to give Mizutani every benefit of the doubt here in terms of his intentions and goals.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Mizutani is within his rights to serve who he wants, but he can't reasonably expect a tourist grading service to rate such an exclusionary business. I do not want Mizutani to change his rules, I just want Michelin to de-list his establishment as a tourist consideration for food.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Someone should start on of those online petitions to encourage the governing body to revoke their stars.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Mizutani does not refuse foreign customers. It just requires them to make reservations via credit card companies or hotels , which can give a guarantee for the time when customers don't show up because there too many foreigners cancel reservations without telling.

"No-show" is fatal for this kind of restaurant because raw fish can't be stored. Or you say they should go bankrupt?

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

@wockster@gmail.comAPR. 30, 2015 - 12:50AM JST Someone should start on of those online petitions to encourage the governing body to revoke their stars.

==========================================================================

Why don; you start? Stars were given by private organization, iF you are not familiar with Govt or Private sector business, just employ expert aand do by yourself.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@toshiko - Michelin inspectors do not operate in the manner you speak of. Their rating is not solely focused on the food and they are supposed to rate the dining experience as a whole from start to finish. Therefore they typically do not take food to-go. Additionally they almost always make reservations in advance, but they are quite vigilant about keeping their identity secret. I imagine that they would be just the kind of guest that would use the requisite concierge service to make the reservation and thus not directly encounter the difficulties faced by a resident foreigner.

I really don't have too much faith that Michelin is going to strip Mizutani of its stars. I have followed the guides for some years and they list a fair share of restaurants that are notorious for being exclusive and difficult to get a reservation at. I imagine that they would say something like:

"Mistune does not bar reservations from foreigners, but merely requires that they make booking though a hotel or credit card concierge service. This policy was instituted to maintain standards for their guests." or something like that.

That being said, I really do not like the approach that Mizutani is taking to solve their problem. Giving guests different treatment based solely on race is totally unreasonable. They need to take the time to develop a better, more thought out solution. Perhaps they could insist on a deposit for "first time guests" and maintain records. I know this would be a burden for them, but they are no longer just a local restaurant. Due to their inclusion in the Michelin guide they are now a world famous institution and they have to step up and make a system that is fair to all potential guests and protects their business interests. No excuses.

However, more troubling than all of this is the part of the Nikkan-Gendai article where they state a need to maintain a 50/50 ratio of Japanese to NJ guest to "keep the atmosphere". Imagine if some other restaurant in another country said: "we have to limit reservations from asian guests to keep the atmosphere authentic.". I am certain the reaction would be different.

In conclusion, I think that they really need to move away from this race-based way of thinking. Even if the foreign guests' behavior is problematic there are still ways to address this without creating all the ill-will that comes with this type of race segregation of guests.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If you have had any unfair treatment at this restaurant (or other restaraunt) make sure you all give Tripadvisor.com a visit and post your rating/ experience for better or worse. Good site.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@cage3:

Right, of course. And it is only foreigners who make a reservation and don't show up. Japanese never do this. Of course not.

So, if I am a foreigner living in Tokyo and not staying in a hotel (so can't make a reservation via a hotel) and I don't have a credit card that offers a service that allows me to make a reservation via a credit card company, what am I supposed to do??

3 ( +4 / -1 )

if I am a foreigner living in Tokyo and not staying in a hotel (so can't make a reservation via a hotel) and I don't have a credit card that offers a service that allows me to make a reservation via a credit card company, what am I supposed to do??

Go to a better restaurant, one that deserves your custom. There are plenty to choose from.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Of course, as a Japanese, I feel sorry for that Chinese guy, and I think Mizutani should do their best to welcome foreign customers.

Clearly they are not doing their best to welcome so-called foreign customers if booking under a non-Japanese name is automatically rejected. If this is their "best", they should be embarrassed, and if you think it is, so should you.

Try to understand - and this is just one example that shows up the ugliness of the restaurant's rule - that it is possible to have a non-Japanese name but be Japanese both by birth and residence. Not foreign. As Japanese as you. I can assure you that such people are quite familiar to commenters on Japan Today - many have children who fit that description.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@zones2surf

Right, of course. And it is only foreigners who make a reservation and don't show up. Japanese never do this. Of course not. Yeah, in most cases, maybe.

So, if I am a foreigner living in Tokyo and not staying in a hotel (so can't make a reservation via a hotel) and I don't have a credit card that offers a service that allows me to make a reservation via a credit card company, what am I supposed to do??

You can get a new credit card or ask your Japanese friend to make a reservation. I'm not saying this is the best or only one solution for the problem and I also don't agree with all of its policy and rules. Maybe there are some better ways. My point is that the word "discrimination" is too strong here.

It's obvious that he made the rule for avoiding troubles, not rule out foreign customers. If really Mizutani is a racist, he just needs to refuse foreign people, saying "foreigners are not allowed to visit my restaurant."

Besides, this kind of rule exists everywhere. For example, in the U.S, if Asian students take college entrance exam, their scores automatically deducted because of their race, and colleges regulate distribution ratio of student's race by that. Isn't that discrimination?

In Tsukiji market, many foreign travelers visits it and make huge troubles like touching fish, jumping on the table, or breaking equipment, so the administrator temporarily prohibited foreign people from entering the market. Is that also discrimination?

As I wrote, I don't think this is the best way, but these days more and more foreigners travelers visits Japan, and the number of problems is also increasing. Usually an owner and workers in this type of restaurant don't speak English or Chinese and know much about technology, so they are kinda at a loss with the rapid change of the situation. Besides, credit card is not acceptable in this restaurant (credit card companies just make reservations), so it's difficult to force customers to pay money in advance. I want to ask if they have to lose money unless they find a perfect solution immediately? I think discussion here is too emotional and one-sided.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I support this place and its policy to control whoever they want to visit. It is, afterall, a private business; they are allowed to refuse service to anyone.

Instead of the foot stampers here shaking their little fists and calling for the establishment to be boycotted and/or their stars reduced/removed, here's your solution: Why don't y'all pool your money together and open a place next to this one that welcomes anyone. You could name it the "JT Rainbow Bistro" with a sign out front that reads in all the languages of the world: "Make a reservation and you're a no-show? No problem".

-10 ( +0 / -10 )

Look, Japan will always have a "certain" view towards "foreigners". No point wasting time with narrow minded people. Don't forget most Japanese have no clue what goes on beyond the land of the rising sun. This is their country so accept it. This case however does not have a xenophobic nature. When a guest makes a reservation at a restaurant, in fact they bide into a contract. Not showing up without proper notification is just wrong. You cannot expect a restaurant to survive if this is accepted. Soon this will be a thing of the past. People will have to pre-pay if they want to eat out, just like buying an air ticket. You prep-pay before you fly.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

If you are a non-Japanese masochist why not make a reservation using a Japanese name? On arriving at the restaurant they either serve you or turn you away. If they choose to turn you away any loss they incur will be the result of their own bigotry and will serve them right.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

You can get a new credit card or ask your Japanese friend to make a reservation. I'm not saying this is the best or only one solution for the problem and I also don't agree with all of its policy and rules. Maybe there are some better ways. My point is that the word "discrimination" is too strong here.

No. Discrimination is exactly what it is.

Here's a dictionary definition (Oxford): "The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex"

Specifically, In the context of that definition, the restaurant is applying prejudicial treatment of people based on race. I know at this point some people like to apply pedantic and strictly biological definition of the word race, but in terms of discrimination laws, it works like this (UK):

"Race discrimination is when you are treated unfairly because of your race, or because of the race of someone you are connected with, such as your partner. ‘Race’ includes colour, nationality, citizenship and ethnic or national origins."

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/wales/discrimination/discrimination-because-of-race-religion-or-belief/discrimination-because-of-race/

I use this particular source simply because I myself am British and because I consider the definition to be sound.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

There seems to be a misunderstanding by some posters here that having a credit card is enough to make a reservation. It's not. The reservation has to be made by the concierge service provided by some credit cards - which in my experience is only gold-card holders (none of my other credit cards offered me concierge service). So as some posters have pointed out, if they don't have a gold card, and they aren't staying in a hotel, they are out of luck.

If you really want to go, have a Japanese person phone and make a reservation for Tanaka. Go on the day of, and say 'Tanaka couldn't come, and sent me in his stead'.

Either that, or go to a different restaurant that isn't run by a bigot.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

You can get a new credit card or ask your Japanese friend to make a reservation.

Concierge service from a credit card company requires a platinum level credit card. Japanese credit card companies are loath to give foreigners a credit card, let alone a gold card or a platinum card. I have platinum cards, world cards, and signature cards, none with spending limits. But these all came from American banks. Despite having a perfect credit record, and a good income, Japanese banks don't see me as worthy, it took me years to get a gold card in Japan. Good luck to anyone in Japan who makes less than 10 figures in getting a platinum card from a Japanese bank.

As for having a Japanese friend make the reservation, that won't work either, as soon as your friend gives the restaurant your name, your reservation will be declined. This is what happened to Mo Bangfu.

You should read Mo Bangfu's wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mo_Bangfu

Sushi Mizutani has brought great shame upon itself, and upon Japan, but it is well-deserved.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

@Cleo:

Of course. I will go to another restaurant. And I will push Michelin to remove their stars. If foreigners are such a trouble for Mizutani that he has to resort to this, he shouldn't mind having his stars removed from a restaurant rating group that is run by foreigners.

@cage3:

It IS discrimination, intentional or otherwise. I didn't say he was a racist or a bigot, I just said that the policy amounts to discrimination. The moment you apply a different reservation requirement based on nationality, that is inherently discrimination. He may think he has a valid business reason, but it doesn't mean he has not applied a discriminatory policy. Particularly when all he has to do is just institute an across-the-board credit card guarantee & cancellation charge policy when making reservations for ALL customers.

In the end, it is his restaurant and he can do what he wants. Just like I can do what I want and contact Michelin. And Michelin can do what it wants, including maybe removing its stars. I believe in the market and I believe everyone in the market has the right to take action as they see fit.

Of course, the government may see a compelling reason to get involved to prevent discrimination where it has a compelling interest, but don't really see that being the case here.

Just glad that those brave young students in North Carolina decided to do a sit-in at the diner back in the day. And that Rosa Parks decided to sit in the front of the bus. I mean, based on the attitude of some here, the U.S. South was never going to change, so why make a fuss about it?!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I can tell the difference between a 1,000 yen bottle and 2,000 yen bottle of wine, and again between a 2,000 yen bottle and a 4,000 yen bottle (usually), but above and beyond that you're into the realm of the sommelier.

There is virtually no difference between wines in the 1000 to 5000 yen price range, and certainly no way to guess the price by taste alone. They are all more or less the same grade. (I used to sell wine.) It's far easier to tell the difference between a 5000 yen bottle of wine and a 30,000 bottle though.

Sushi is very similar. It's pretty easy to distinguish top grade sushi from family restaurant sushi. On the other hand, it's not so easy to distinguish Michelin star sushi from any number of top sushi restaurants without any Michelin rating at all (except by price and an unusual number of foreign customers).

There are many good sushi restaurants, and I would rather avoid those that have been spoiled by Michelin rankings. I certainly avoid any restaurant that discriminates against foreigners, and urge my friends to do the same. Why give my money to an open racist?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I know a fabulous sushi restaurant in Tokyo that's half the price but really creative, where the skill of the chef really takes the food to another level. They took my reservation no questions asked and even have an English website. And the name is ...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@cage3 I would be would like to give Mizutani-shi the benefit of the doubt, but on two occasions he had people who were long term residents of Japan with Japanese proficiency call and even though they explained that to his staff they were unwilling to make the slightest accommodation. The staff conversation could have been something along the lines of "Oh, you live in Japan - are you fluent in Japanese and do you know how our restaurant works? Yes? Ok - I will need a local phone number and address to confirm your reservation. Thank you - we will call you x days in advance to confirm, but if we cannot get hold of you or you don't show up we will cancel your reservation and not be able to give you any in the future* or any such variation.

To get back to the point - Where would they draw the line? What if someone was a naturalized Japanese citizen of a different race? Would they start putting themselves in the position of checking citizenship? Or do they only want pure blooded Japanese?

Although you say that the word "discrimination" is too strong because you don't believe that he has racist intent the result is still a discriminatory policy.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Concierge service from a credit card company requires a platinum level credit card.

I have concierge service with my gold card.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have concierge service with my gold card.

You have "gold level" concierge service, which is not good enough for Sushi Mizutani.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

No way the Japanese will let a bunch of non-Japanese dictate to them. and yet thats exactly what happened at the end of WW2 and much why Japan is the country it is today, change will happen (albeit slowy) whether you like it of not

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is not about racism, It about bums on seats and good business management , The experience with booking has shown the manager that foreigner are booking and are not showing up. THe Manager realise this and as amended the booking policy for foreigner so can still make booking. He just will not except booking without a credit card. This is a good business policy. But this to could be a problem also. Many Credit Card purchase of a certain limit now send sms to the credit card holder phone for surcurity and for authorisation. If your not in the country of origin were the card was issued the sms will not be delivered because your overseas and the the card is rejected. I have had this problem with buying ticket for ball games on the Hanshin Tiger booking site .so I have to buy them from the Convenience store.

-11 ( +0 / -11 )

Ive seen the arguement that Japanese are not aware of the outside world, therefore they cant be racist; this is all just innocent misunderstandings. That sounds plausible until you read about when some Japanese experience racism outside of Japan, and everyone hears about it. Im sure this same paradigm will be applied in this case, and the stars will remain.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

As progressive as Japan may seem to the outside world,It is quite set in it's old ways and thinking. A Japanese national told me that "such a restaurant...still pools tips for it's waitresses inspiring lack-luster service from some while others loose incentive to serve with finesse". Japan is not culturally nor business-wise ready for the Olympics in 2020. They welcome "guaranteed money" anytime, such as any smart business, but even the ATM & credit system is far from adequate to serve the needs of many people from many different places who depend on electronic banking and access to their accounts from overseas."All dressed up and no where to spend it "scenario.Literally the saying "Your money is no good here" has a new meaning from the Japanese perspective. Credit card & gateway incompatibility plague both business entity & tourist alike. Double foreigners Cc fee charge before you arrive would cause me to cancel any restaurants reservations on behalf of practicality as well.^^ However, "the restaurant above mentioned" is correct about the costly habit of foreigner reserving tables and not showing up.Yes, I have worked around that trade for many years. but in JApan they will "double book" reservations & take the CC money as well.^^ Not exactly the path to enlightenment folks. My solution: simply announce that it is a private dining club and the "everyone has to make their reservations in the same way". However, in a culture where a handshake seals a deal in a world of legal contracts,the owner would not want to risk alienating "old Japan money to do so". In fact better to alienate the foreigner. The tourist YEN. The J-Culture page says "Olympics 2020 welcome to OUR country". As if to remind you that this is indeed THEIR island world nation and shall never change. Please look for the made in CHINA logo on all of your Japanese souvenirs in 2020 ^^.McDonalds & Starbucks will accept your credit card with a smile & a high fee though^^.

Kudos^^

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The following is about the man which Sushi Mizutani declined to grant a reservation to, Mo BangFu (莫邦富 Baku Hōfu?) (1953-) is a Chinese columnist and economist in Japan.

Mo taught the Japanese language at Shanghai International Studies University before obtaining his master’s and doctoral degree in 1985 in Japan.

Since 1995, he has been serving as a committee member of the program review conference of MXTV (Tokyo Metropolitan Television). The position was unprecedented for foreigners working in Japanese media, which thus led him to be a person carrying a symbolic importance for Japan’s globalization. Since the late 80s, he has been active in Japanese public life and more than 50 books of his in Japanese have been published. He has been an authoritative source introducing China.

The Hong Kong financial magazine Weekly Economy News reported, “Mo BangFu’s name is like a brand to spread Chinese culture that is widely known by the Japanese media and cultural industry, and the local Chinese community.”

From April 1999 to March 2002, Mo hosted a special column, "My View of China", on NHK to introduce the historic path and the current outlook of China after the execution of the opening-door policy. His column in the Asahi Shimbun began in 2002 and has been highly regarded by Japanese readers.

From January 2005, "Mo BangFu’s China Business Guide", a special column sponsored by Nikkei Business Publications for the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, started to be aired ([1]). In June 2006, Bangfu launched "Successful Guide – Talk about China Business" on the magazine, the most well-known monthly journal heavily read by financial moguls and decision makers working for the government. In addition, he has series of influential publications online for more than ten years, such as "Mo BangFu’s New China’s Matter", published by the NHK publishing and other media companies.

Every year, Mo BangFu is invited as a public speaker by Japanese regional governments, economy associations, banks, financial groups, airliners, and multinational corporations. He has done more than 100 speeches inside Japan as well as around the world. The audience of his speech includes leaders of the regional government and the financial industry, as well as entrepreneurs.

BangFu was praised as the best investment advisor for Japanese corporations, in the 2004 October issue of magazine The East. “Japan corporations, who want to invest in China, may not need MBA, but they cannot do it without MBF (Mo BangFu).” (Yoshinori Tandou, Toyo University)

Other than the program review conference committee member in MXTV, he held the position of corporate image counselor for OMRON from 2001 to 2005. Since 2003, he has been serving as the only foreigner advisor for “Nippon Keidanren” (Japan Business Federation), the largest economic association in Japan. He also serves as a senior advisor for Hakuhodo, Japan’s largest advertising company, and other titles in Japanese society. Since he was invited by Yamanashi Prefecture in July 2007, he has been serving as the only foreigner committee member for the prefecture's Travel Roundtable Panel. Since September 2007, he has been serving as a counselor of the Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation. Since 2004, he has been hired as an economy counselor for Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, China, and a senior counselor of Free Trade Zone for Qingdao, Shandong, China. Since August 2007, he has been hired as the ambassador of commerce for Luohe, Henan, China.

I am sorry, but Mr Bangfu is a far greater person than a mere sushi chef, and has accomplished far greater things for Japan and China than earning a couple Michelin stars. What Sushi Mizutani did by refusing him a table cannot be described as anything less than utterly disgraceful.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Mr Bangfu is a far greater person than a mere sushi chef

It has nothing to do with which is greater person. Mizutani is a small private restaurant and made its own system to solve its problems. The system may not be perfect, but I don't think it deserves harrasment like this.

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

It has nothing to do with which is greater person. Mizutani is a small private restaurant and made its own system to solve its problems. The system may not be perfect, but I don't think it deserves harrasment like this.

Oh, it deserves far more harassment then this. This incident is a national disgrace, and it has been reported in the news around Asia, Europe, America, and Australia. People around the world have read about this incident, what should they think? This "system", as you call it, is unacceptable in a civilised society where people should be able to expect equal treatment by businesses owners as well as the government. This incident has shamed Japan as a country throughout the world. And this is at a time when Japan is trying it's hardest to attract foreign visitors and investors, the former being one of the few bright spots in the Japanese economy now.

Were I an official in the Tokyo government, I would personally contact this restaurant and tell them that if such an incident were ever to happen again, I would not renew their license to do business, I would say that "some arrangements might be necessary" before we could renew your permit to operate a restaurant. Such practices are absolutely intolerable, particularly in a society where people are thought to be polite, and were customers who pay money for a service expect appropriate respect.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

@Piedstroika "based on whose statistics? Where does it say the restaurant based their decisions on records they keep" Right there in the article. Read it again. "You water it down and say "xenophobia" (fear of strangers)" Xenophobia is discriminatory behaviour against foreigners, not strangers. "And you know, they don't have to sit and eat at that hotel's restaurant to "review" it" Yes, they do, because a review by definition cannot be made for something which one has not experienced themselves but only heard of. Else I could review any book I've never read but only heard was crap and say "It's crap". Reviews don't work that way.

@zone2surf My queston was partially rhetorical. So you and Smith have heard of it; you only realise they had this sort of policy now, and only now start to take issue with them? Isn't this highly-selective behaviour? Sure, you can't get upset about what you aren't aware of, but to start lobbying for something against a place whose business practises you've previously not cared to investigate just because you hear through the grapevine that they do something you don't agree with could be seen as petty.

"Why should I have to jump through these hoops purely because of my nationality?" Because that's their policy and if you don't want to have to deal with it you're perfectly capable of simply not going there rather than trying to force them to change their policy to suit you. What those demanding a policy change are doing is in no way different to what they're doing; they're causing an inconvenience for some people, and in turn these other people are causing an inconvenience for them. How are they entitled to dictate to others what they may or may not do while the restaurant is disallowed from denying people patronage based on whichever grounds they see fit?

"Particularly when there are far better ways to address the underlying business reason for this misguided policy." Yes, there are. Just as there are better ways to try and get them to do so than the childish demands of Michelin to revoke their remaining stars going on the limited information available, the way some are doing and encouraging others to do.

"But I can't." You might be able to. Try jumping through those hoops to go sit at his bar and engage him in conversation about the matter. Have someone who can make the reservation without any problems do so for you. Phone and ask for an opportunity to talk to him. Try mailing him. There are many ways to try and discuss this matter with him rather than taking a stance of mailing Michelin instead and, for the rest of your part, sitting on your hands to have someone else sort out what you take issue with.

"If it was, this amount of ink would not have been expended on this" There's no proof behind that statement. Journalists don't have infallible judgement on what to publish and what not to given available information/evidence of claims. Just look at how many people are hung up on the denied party being Chinese and are making the unproven claim that the restaurant completely refused his reservation on the basis that he's "a dirty Chinese". They have no proof to back up their assumptions, but they're running with that anyway, and that's a problem.

"If you are a Tokyo resident not staying at a hotel and just have a regular box standard credit card that doesn't have a concierge service, you are out of luck." What if they allow one to go to them in person making their reservation cash-in-hand? Those two options may not be their only options available, they're just the ones we're currently aware of.

@Scrote Reread the article. You're misinterpreting it/missing key points.

@M3M3M3 "What stops someone from not showing up even if they have made a reservation through a hotel or credit card concierge? Nothing." It doesn't need to prevent them from showing up, only to provide a means for the restaurant to charge them. For all we know nationals making their reservations are required to pay up-front or be otherwise-billable as well; we're not provided with any information to suggest this isn't the case.

@zones2surf Regarding corroborating reviews; anecdotal evidence is always less meritable than a recording where all interactions between the parties involved are concerned. That TripAdvisor reviewer mightn't have tried exploring alternative ways in which they could make their reservation and the restaurant's staff might simply not have thought to/bothered explaining any alternatives which might be available.

We don't know. In the same way, we don't know if Mo Bangfu or his secretary didn't try to find an alternative means through which to arrange for his reservation; what we have is either of them being told how they could make their reservations and things being left at that. We don't know that he didn't try providing his residential address, telephone number or any other information which might've lent credibility to his being able to meet his reservation. We don't know that he did, either.

"so the actions I have taken so far are, I think, entirely reasonable and measured" Now if only some other people could have a stance like this as well instead of trying to incite others to harass the restaurant or demanding of Michelin the stars be removed based solely on the information currently available.

@wipeout "I use this particular source simply because I myself am British and because I consider the definition to be sound" I for one hate that definition, as I feel it's much too broad and allows for far too much ambiguity in its use. There are already words specifically intended to be used to describe various forms of discrimination. Racism, imo, ought to be limited to describing discrimination based on race, as that's what the word stems from.

In any event, I think too many people are tackling this issue with the wrong approach and criticising this place on as of yet unproven grounds. There's a problem to be addressed, but how it's addressed is also important, and a lot of people don't seem to care to address it in any other way than causing problems for the restaurant because this news has upset them.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

a review by definition cannot be made for something which one has not experienced themselves

People can review (and have) their experience of being denied the chance to make a reservation.

For all we know nationals making their reservations are required to pay up-front or be otherwise-billable as well; we're not provided with any information to suggest this isn't the case.

Mmm, yes we are. A top notch Michelin-starred sushi restaurant in Tokyo on Monday defended its special reservation rules for foreigners. Note that's not 'normal reservation rules for everyone'.

we don't know if Mo Bangfu or his secretary didn't try to find an alternative means through which to arrange for his reservation; what we have is either of them being told how they could make their reservations and things being left at that.

If I were Mr. Mo I also would not jump through any hoops in an attempt to give my money to a restaurant that didn't want to take it. It's been said before, but there are plenty of better restaurants in Tokyo that provide service with a smile, instead of taking the attitude that they're doing you a favour by letting you in.

That TripAdvisor reviewer mightn't have tried exploring alternative ways in which they could make their reservation

Nor should they. See above. Plenty of other raw fish in Tokyo.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This incident is a national disgrace

Oh, nothing new. Japan has many national disgrace thanks to English papers and Japan bashers. This small restaurant doesn't have English speaking staff, so it's easier for them to have credit company or hotel staff make sure that customers do not no-show.

Were I an official in the Tokyo government, I would not renew their license to do business

Can't do because you can't prove anything illegal.

-14 ( +2 / -16 )

This small restaurant doesn't have English speaking staff, so it's easier for them to have credit company or hotel staff make sure that customers do not no-show.

tinawatanabe, you use the argument that they don't have English speaking staff quit consistently. I wonder, what if all the restaurants in Paris, England, Spain, Italy, etc ( notice I didn't say Hawaii; oh! the Japanese get to have their cake and eat it too) what if the restaurants in these places, which are at the top of Japanese tourists' list, what if these places had a separate system only for Japanese tourists, and they rationalized it the way you do by saying they don't have staff that speak Japanese? If that's your rationale, please explain to me why Japan deserves the 2020 Olympics.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Mr. Noidall:"what if these places had a separate system only for Japanese tourists, and they rationalized it the way you do by saying they don't have staff that speak Japanese? "

First, They probably don't have so much problems with Japanese customers. Second, the most Japanese would probably accept it if they had a different treatment.

If that's your rationale, please explain to me why Japan deserves the 2020 Olympics.

I don't see any problem with Mizutani yet, so I don't see any connection with the Olympics. If nothing illegal about it, then Japan can do nothing to Mizutani regarding the Olympics. If you have an objection, then don't go to the games.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

M3M3M3APR. 29, 2015 - 08:48PM JST

Yes, I'm very willing to bite that bullet because that's exactly what I would say.

That will make you the first, I think.

But of course, that's a bit of a red herring because I'm sure we both agree that it's simply not the case that foreigners don't show up because they are foreigners. However, everyone might be less likely to show up because they don't live in Tokyo. It's common sense.

Is it? I could turn that around and argue people that don't live in Tokyo, because they have to invest so much more to come, or less likely to drop the event - all else being even. The hypothesis can work both ways. And of course foreigners don't fail to show up because they are foreigners, just as blacks don't commit crimes because they are blacks.

The statistics, however, do show that blacks have a higher rate of crime. And lacking real evidence otherwise, we have to at least consider the possibility that being a foreigner does have a positive correlation to the chance of them not showing up. Correlation is not cause, but cause is one of the hardest things to find (statistically, blacks have lower IQ too, and while the world accepts this [the evidence must be overwhelming] the cause is debated under the cows come home).

What stops someone from not showing up even if they have made a reservation through a hotel or credit card concierge? Nothing.

Now you are making an attack on all vetting processes. Vetting does not prevent people from doing bad things. However, a properly designed vetting program can exclude groups that statistically are high-risk.

I'd love to go over his records and find out what the reality is.

In the meantime, since he's willing to bet his cash and we aren't, perhaps a little benefit of the doubt is appropriate.

Personally, I disagree that anti-discrimination should be the absolute priority. I find the most interesting discussions on discriminations is not when the offense is large (a foreigner can't get living anywhere, for example), but when the offense is small and there may be some objective reasons for the discrimination. Because if we grant the objective reason, there is a societal cost to equality as well. For example, if we grant the problem but suggest a universal deposit will fix things - that's inconveniencing the whole for the benefit of a minority group. That is less than perfectly fair and non-discrimination thus incurs a societal cost.

Or consider "affirmative action" policies, which in effect shaft the currently better doing group in favor of a group that will supposedly do better if given extra chances. Again there's a societal cost. Or we don't have affirmative action but just lower the grade requirement universallly and change the speed and complexity of instruction so the less well-developed, which might just be concentrated in particular ethnic groups for some reason, can keep up. Again, there is a cost.

I think the correct course is not to just say No blindly, but to look at each case individually.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

I find it amazing how Tina and other Japanese will defend discrimination towards foriegners, but let them experience anything that resembles racism towards japanese abroad and watch them complain. Say if a Tina were to try and rent an apartment in Hawaii and turned away because they were Japanese. It would be on the news but its a daily occurance in Japan. Explain that.

Or consider "affirmative action" policies, which in effect shaft the currently better doing group in favor of a group that will supposedly do better if given extra chances

Affirmative action does not apply in this case, as there are no quotas on foriengers who want to participate in public activities like eating etc in Japan (though Im sure many would like that idea ). I dont think this resturant is a private resturant, or is it? In most countries, regardless of race, it is understood that public means available to everyone regardless of race etc. Quotas were established to get minorities into jobs, military officer and government ranks etc that were over represented by whites. Thats another topic for another discussion, but its not applicable to this case.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

First, They probably don't have so much problems with Japanese customers. Second, the most Japanese would probably accept it if they had a different treatment.

Are you suggesting that Japanese customers are better than other customers, more sophisticated, and "unique"?

I don't see any problem with Mizutani yet, so I don't see any connection with the Olympics. If nothing illegal about it, then Japan can do nothing to Mizutani regarding the Olympics. If you have an objection, then don't go to the games.

And you admit the very problem while failing to grasp why it's a problem. The very fact that discrimination in Japan isn't illegal is the problem!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@Theo:

Well, I think the only answer to your post is to say "let's agree to disagree". Really not much point in me trying to counter each of your points because we have fundamentally different views on this. I will continue to hold my views, which I think are entirely reasonable and measured in response to the article. You have your views, which you seem wedded to. Fair enough.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"I think the correct course is not to just say No blindly, but to look at each case individually."

Yes, that is known as situational ethics, and it condones "case by case" abuse, as so clearly shown here. Today I like this foriegner, so I will rent to him or give him a job at my company or allow him to eat in my resturant. Tommorow I dont like the same forienger, so I have a tantrum. Such logic seems primitive, risk adverse and dated in other countries, but its "safe" for you, thus the cake and eat it too analogy. Thanks for providing such a great example ).

0 ( +2 / -2 )

In Tina's view she's right -- never wrong -- and the rest of the world (even if it's 98% of the people), well if they disagree, they are all wrong (crazy). I have heard this before.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@Kazuaki Shimazaki

I agree with you that certain nationalities or groups may have differing cancellation rates for whatever reason. Mr. Mizutani, as a shrewd businessman, presumably keeps data, and I would have no reason to assume he is lying.

So we have a problem. And we need a solution.

It is this chosen solution that goes to the heart of the growing gulf in perceptions surrounding Japan.

How ironic it is that this incident arises as Mr. Abe is proclaiming in the US that "it is because of our strong belief in democratic principles and ideals that Japan associates herself with the free nations of the world".

Simply put, Mr. Mizutani's solution, and the Japanese government's implied acceptance of his solution, stands in direct contradiction to Mr. Abe's words.

In a democratic society, a solution to a problem that involves denying services to people on account of their ethnicity can never be allowed to stand. Saying this does not (necessarily) imply the problem is not real. It just says that when we list potential solutions, any solution that abruptly disadvantages disinterested individuals before they have even taken any action, positive or negative, is undemocratic and an abuse of human rights.

In other democracies, it is true that crime statistics, anti-social behavior statistics, or simply statistics on bad-manners, if such might hypothetically exist, may not be even across certain groups. But this kind of 'remedial action' would be rejected out of hand because it contravenes greater, more important principles.

Looking at the internet reaction in Japan to this blatant racism, there are a huge number of people who have no quarrel with it. This is where Japan differs from other democracies. A solution to a problem that tramples on the rights of individuals who have no connection to the initial offense is given social credence and acceptability.

To be more concrete, I have lived in Japan for nearly 20 years. I can't eat at this 'public' restaurant. I simply can't go there without booking hotel accommodation I don't need, or persuading someone to issue me with a platinum credit card. Now, I have no desire to go to Mizutani's but I have every desire to prevent this precedent from being set. You may want to laugh at me linking the inability to eat high-end sushi with human rights violations. But if ethnic refusals are allowed to stand, at what point does it stop becoming a laughing matter? 1% of all establishments? 10%? 51%? In a democracy, the only option is to crush this behavior as it arises.

However, in Japan, the land of unique and unparalleled omotenashi, the Japanese government's failure to pass appropriate laws banning this behavior means I can legally be denied service on the basis of my ethnicity. In other democracies, we have concluded that my right to service in public establishments, regardless of what I look like, trumps the owners right to discriminate in an attempt to improve profitability. Therefore another solution is required. And borrowing a Japanese friend's credit card is not a solution - what if such restaurants increase in number - should I have to find a willing friend each and every time I get the flying X over the phone?

Now Japan, could of course say, 'no, as a nation, we disagree'. Before you are a human being, before you are an individual, you are first and foremost a member of your ethnic group. As such we will reserve the right make decisions on what services you are allowed to receive on the basis of your ethnicity. This is our culture. We will not be told any different'.

If that is the path Japan wants to take, well, Japan is a sovereign nation. Why can't the Japanese government and her people (at least those of her people who defend this behavior) not be honest about their intentions?

Why you see so many angry people here is that Japan is indeed taking this path while at the same time denying it. Again, high-end sushi is not an essential social service, but the differing attitudes to this incident are a fine barometer of the way cultural norms in Japan divides opinion, with the same split evident over more serious matters like denying welfare payments to non-Japanese who were born in Japan and lived and worked their whole lives here.

The minimizing, denial, and belittling of those who call out discrimination is duplicitous in the extreme. Too often in Japan we see great offense taken at anyone who points out this duplicity, and, almost unbelievably, ongoing attempts to claim some cultural and moral high ground amid the double-talk.

The genuine disgust you see hear is not just leveled at the exclusionist thinking. It's leveled at exclusionist thinking sprinkled with the utterly contradictory claims about democracy and rights, and glazed over with inflated claims of superiority over other nations in matters of etiquette, hospitality and manners.

Defenders of Mizutani are esessentially 'gaslighting' (look it up) Japan's foreign residents -abusing them and then claiming no such abuse takes place.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I went to a counter sushi shop with my family tonight. It was slightly cheaper than this place, but in the same rank. I made the reservation under my own name. No credit card or hotel required.

This guy sucks - so take your business somewhere else.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I'm so glad Kura-Zushi and Kappa-Zushi are in business...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Theo Lubbe

They didn't refuse his reservation, they indicated there's a prerequisite he must meet after which his reservation should, space permitting, be accepted.

It amounts to a refusal if conditions are set that he would be unable to meet.

The conditions have been gone over in some detail here: book through the concierge of a hotel - useless if you're not staying in one, and the second option was to book using the concierge service of a credit card company. Again, useless for those who are denied credit cards, which is the case for quite a lot of non-Japanese living here, and useless for those whose credit card does not offer a concierge service.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"People can review (and have) their experience of being denied the chance to make a reservation" 'Denied the chance'. They're not 'denied the chance', they're told to do so via a drastically more difficult process. 'Exclusivity' of various forms exists for many restaurants around the world. Should one give them all a negative review based on their having requirements which one doesn't agree with, despite the fact one could meet those requirements if one wanted to? And even if one does, would those reviews be of the experience of actually dining at the restaurant or the service once one is there? Because the problem with online reviews is they tend not to have a section dedicated to reservations. How can you submit a review score which is supposed to be based on numerous factors, not only the reservation, if you haven't actually dined there?

"Note that's not 'normal reservation rules for everyone'." Nor is it "special rules for foreigners where no rules exist for non-foreigners".

"If I were Mr. Mo I also would not jump through any hoops in an attempt to give my money to a restaurant that didn't want to take it" That is completly irrelevant to the point you're addressing. It's not whether he wants to dine there or not, it's whether he's able to or not.

"Nor should they. See above. Plenty of other raw fish in Tokyo." Again completely irrelevant. Capability and desire are not the same thing. This article concerns capability and whether or not that capability is restricted (in this case, it is), why and whether the restrictions are severe enough as to cause a situation of incapability.

@5petals "Say if a Tina were to try and rent an apartment in Hawaii and turned away because they were Japanese. It would be on the news but its a daily occurance in Japan. Explain that." Y'know, it's funny; there are plenty of real estate agents in Japan who simply don't deal with foreigners either. You have to go through a separate agent who deals with them on your behalf, for a fee, instead. Not unlike a 'concierge'.

@jpn_guy "In a democratic society, a solution to a problem that involves denying services to people on account of their ethnicity can never be allowed to stand" This isn't an issue of ethnicity unless we have evidence Mo Bangfu was denied on grounds of his being Chinese. The assumption is he was denied on grounds of being a foreigner (ie: the only factor of nationality which comes into play is whether he's 'from Japan' or not).

You need to keep in mind there are a vast array of things non-nationals simply cannot do in countries other than that which they are originally from or in which they are a citizen, or special rules which apply to them as non-nationals. This is true in democratic societies around the world as well. These are technically forms of discrimination, yet are conveniently ignored by most people while relatively minor examples like this one are blown out of proportion.

@wipeout "It amounts to a refusal if conditions are set that he would be unable to meet" No, it doesn't. It doesn't come close. It's not 'refusal' on their part, it's an inability on his part to meet their requirements. You are not inherently refused application for citizenship in a country where you haven't met their minimum duration of residency requirement, you are told to come back when you have met that minimum duration.

There remains the matter of whether they are willing to make an arrangement by any other means, such as going to them in person to make a booking with cash in hand to pay them in advance. We don't know that they wouldn't be willing to accept this form of reservation right now.

As for the hotel concierge service stipulation? If you're going to spend 80,000jpy+ dining there, what's 5,500jpy on the top to book a stay at a hotel for one night so their concierge can deal with the reservation for you? It certainly sucks and shouldn't be necessary, but there is literally nothing stopping someone adamant to dine there from doing this.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

@Mr. Noidall

Are you suggesting that Japanese customers are better than other customers, more sophisticated, and "unique"?

Read my comment well. "They probably don't have so much problems with Japanese customers" In Mizutani case, it is no- show tourists who are to be blamed not Mizutani.

The very fact that discrimination in Japan isn't illegal is the problem!

You cannot decide this as discrimination simply by this one piece of article. What I see so far it's not a discrimination.

@5patals

Say if a Tina were to try and rent an apartment in Hawaii and turned away because they were Japanese. It would be on the news but its a daily occurance in Japan. Explain that.

I 'd accept it without complaining if it happened to me thinking this is something I have to endure.

-12 ( +0 / -12 )

@Theo,

Actually, on further thought, let me try to give this one more go and revert to you point-by-point. You may still disagree with me/have a different view after that, at which point, I would then just suggest we agree to disagree.

So you and Smith have heard of it; you only realise they had this sort of policy now, and only now start to take issue with them? Isn't this highly-selective behaviour? Sure, you can't get upset about what you aren't aware of, but to start lobbying for something against a place whose business practises you've previously not cared to investigate just because you hear through the grapevine that they do something you don't agree with could be seen as petty.

Could be seen as petty? Maybe that is view. And maybe it is others views. But not mine. This is the way the world works all of the time. We hear of things we previously weren't aware of, things that we may find objectionable, and, depending on the nature of the issue, we may take action. Happens all the time. In this case, I don't believe it is petty. This is a renowned Michelin-starred restaurant. He should not be allowed to benefit from an international restaurant rating system when effectively discriminating against a segment of the population based on their nationality. Nationality-based discrimination is not petty. Not in Japan, not in the U.S., not anywhere.

<"Why should I have to jump through these hoops purely because of my nationality?" Because that's their policy and if you don't want to have to deal with it you're perfectly capable of simply not going there rather than trying to force them to change their policy to suit you. What those demanding a policy change are doing is in no way different to what they're doing; they're causing an inconvenience for some people, and in turn these other people are causing an inconvenience for them. How are they entitled to dictate to others what they may or may not do while the restaurant is disallowed from denying people patronage based on whichever grounds they see fit?>

No, those are not my options. Look, if they said that they don't accept reservations from anyone who has not previously been a customer or that has been introduced by a customer, I could accept that. Yes, it is discrimination, but this happens all the time in Japan and, indeed, those that are discriminated against on this basis are not just Japanese, but non-Japanese as well. It is the fact that the basis for the discrimination here is nationality. The same would be true if they only accepted reservations from Japanese men, but not Japanese women. Not acceptable in the 21st century.

I am saying that discrimination on the basis of nationality (or gender, or skin color, or other similar reasons) should not be tolerated in this day and age. What if it was not just this restaurant but many others. As used to be the case in Japan, particularly for high end traditional Japanese restaurants. Then my options narrow. No, my option is to fight these incidents one by one as I come across them. The owners may still stick with their policy, but then I absolutely believe they should not benefit from a rating system that is owned by the very group they are discriminating against. And I have the right to highlight this discrimination to that group. This is the only way to stamp out discrimination over time.

C'mon, let's be realistic here. Does anyone reading these comments believe a no-name non-Japanese resident will be able to persuade a Michelin-starred sushi chef who is in his 60s to change his practice?! Seriously?? No, I am a businessman. I have always learned that you look at the options available to you to achieve your goal and you pick the one that has the highest probability of success. In this case, going to Michelin. Mizutani may not listen to me, but he most certainly would be willing to have a conversation with Michelin, particularly if they have leverage, which they do. And I don't. That isn't childish, that is just smart tactics to target improper behaviour.

<"If it was, this amount of ink would not have been expended on this" There's no proof behind that statement. Journalists don't have infallible judgement on what to publish and what not to given available information/evidence of claims. Just look at how many people are hung up on the denied party being Chinese and are making the unproven claim that the restaurant completely refused his reservation on the basis that he's "a dirty Chinese". They have no proof to back up their assumptions, but they're running with that anyway, and that's a problem.

"If you are a Tokyo resident not staying at a hotel and just have a regular box standard credit card that doesn't have a concierge service, you are out of luck." What if they allow one to go to them in person making their reservation cash-in-hand? Those two options may not be their only options available, they're just the ones we're currently aware of.>

Again, in dealing with these types of situations, this is the 21st century. There are far more effective and efficient ways to get this clarified. Social media and the press is most certainly that method. If Michelin gets involved and if this gets picked up by more press and more people start calling Mizutani to ask for explanations and to highlight the discrimination, there will be a greater likelihood that this will be addressed. And if we are not getting the full story, that will be discovered as well. That is the whole point of this approach. Look, if I were a journalist who had the power of the pen, I would take this as the subject of an article. But I am not. So, I choose an approach that I hope will have some likelihood of effecting change.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

As for the hotel concierge service stipulation? If you're going to spend 80,000jpy+ dining there, what's 5,500jpy on the top to book a stay at a hotel for one night so their concierge can deal with the reservation for you? It certainly sucks and shouldn't be necessary, but there is literally nothing stopping someone adamant to dine there from doing this.

So you would support a two-tier pricing system where people are charged according to their nationality then?

And yes I know that non-nationals deal with restrictions in all countries. But not usually restrictions do not usually cover the ability to order food from public establishments, so your point is moot.

What would you think if supermarkets started to turn away non-Japanese people because they couldn't read the labels, or made to much noise, or picked grapes of the bunch without buying them or...

Moving on to your cash in hand statement, it is ludicrous, even if this is an option. In modern life, we are utterly dependent on booking services online or over the phone. You seem to suggest that I should be quite happy to see my neighbor reserving services from the comfort of his home while I have to make a special trip to Tokyo to hand over my money personally. Not everyone lives in Tokyo. This is acceptable to you?

By the way, what is your opinion on the inherent hypocrisy in using a foreign rating system to enhance your prestige while turning away foreign customers?

Or on the contradiction demonstrated by Japanese internet commentators who support the denial of service to a customer midway through a conversation, solely on account of his surname, before expounding on their own cultured good manners?

I have to admit that I am actually quite fascinated by your motivation here - why are you bending over backwards to defend discriminatory behavior?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@theo

There remains the matter of whether they are willing to make an arrangement by any other means, such as going to them in person to make a booking with cash in hand to pay them in advance. We don't know that they wouldn't be willing to accept this form of reservation right now.

What we do know is that they have a rule for people the restaurant identifies as non-Japanese. And it's discrimination. As I've already mentioned above, the rule would even exclude people who are Japanese, simply on the grounds of having a "non-Japanese" name. Which applies to many people with one foreign and one Japanese parent.

Seriously: are you going to try and sell the idea that such people "aren't really Japanese"?

As for the hotel concierge service stipulation? If you're going to spend 80,000jpy+ dining there, what's 5,500jpy on the top to book a stay at a hotel for one night so their concierge can deal with the reservation for you? It certainly sucks and shouldn't be necessary, but there is literally nothing stopping someone adamant to dine there from doing this.

True, you could book it that way, but why there should be a need to do so for someone living in Japan is unclear, the extra expense and trouble is unwelcome and arguably demeaning, and linking dining to hotel bookings for people not staying in hotels is plain weird. If everyone had to do it, perhaps I wouldn't care. Making people do it based purely on ethnic assumptions is where it becomes blatant discrimination.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Actually, if you re-read your comment you can see that you said it reference to Japanese tourists overseas. But enough already. It's clear that you are of the belief that Japanese are a cut above the rest and have the right to discriminate against others and at the same time receive equal treatment. You've defended every instance of discrimination recently reported on this site.

You cannot decide this as discrimination simply by this one piece of article. What I see so far it's not a discrimination.

Really? Are you suggesting that this is the first instance of foreigners being denied access to a restaurant in Japan?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Mr. Noidall, So what do you think Mizutani should do? If the tourists often did not show up I think they go bankrupt.

I don't understand why you don't blame the tourists who do not respect the reservation and Mizutani.

-13 ( +0 / -13 )

I blame the tourists who make a reservation and then blow it off. But what you do is implement a system of prevention that applies to everyone not just foreigners. Not all foreigners do that. So many foreigners try to show respect to Japan and its culture and all they get in return is a slap in the face.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I find it hilarious that THIS issue, above all the other ones argued over in these comments pages, is the one that has attracted the most comments. All the self-righteous posturing over how one sushi chef chooses to run HIS business! You don't have to go there. There are countless other places in which to dine. I love the way the Japanese choose to do things their way .I hope it never changes. I respect that. Perhaps all the angry gajjin on these pages give some clue as to why this is so. Perhaps you might have a tendency to display your Western style behaviour a bit too often. Perhaps you just don't get it. The practice of respecting others is why this country is SO civilized, especially considering the huge population that lives so harmoniously within a comparatively small area. You need to show some respect, and not continuously expect the Japanese to change to suit your western-orientated expectations. Always complaining about things is disrespectful. If there are problems within society, it's for the Japanese to deal with, not foreigners. If you always find something to complain about, I would say that the problem lies within you, and your attitude to this beautiful country.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

There's always a commenter who takes "the high moral ground" and says I can't believe all these comments using a snobby tone of voice. But they themselves comment but add nothing to the discussion.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Not all foreigners do that.

Mizutani never said all of them, but many. So only natural to consider they are high risk, such as the young and old drivers are high risk for insurance company.

If Mizutani was discriminatory, he would have taken the rule when he opened the shop without the ways of hotel and credit card.

-10 ( +2 / -12 )

@kotoba

What on earth is "Western style behavior"?

Do you seriously think that Canadians, Lithuanians and Italians all behave in the same manner?

I'm English. Not "Western."

6 ( +9 / -3 )

@tinawatanabe

If "Tourists" are a high risk group why can't then just apply this rule to tourists? Why does he have to treat long term Japan residents the same way as someone who's only here for a few days?

I would say that having a local phone number and address that is not obviously a hotel would be a pretty reasonable way of screening somebody.

And if language was a problem as you claim, could't they just refuse to accept a reservation from someone who did not speak the language adequately over the phone? I think that would better than the current policy. I know a few restaurants that will kind of lightly vet you based on your understanding on language and customs over the phone.

I think the policy that he is on record defending is too harsh - he had an opportunity to rethink and soften his stance when he was interviewed by the media and he didn't.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

"We hear of... ...I don't believe it is petty." It's the fact you're heading straight to Michelin and expecting them to have the restaurant's policies changed and/or the stars revoked without your actually investing any effort to further investigate the matter first which I find petty.

"Look, if they said... ...those that are discriminated against on this basis are not just Japanese, but non-Japanese as well" So this sort of discrimination happening all the time in various other places/ways in Japan is somehow okay, but in this restaurant's case in particular it's not? What are you doing about rental agencies which require a Japanese guarantor when (suspected) foreigners try to rent through them?

"The same would be true... ...Not acceptable in the 21st century" There are women-only hostels and many hostels and hotels which have predominantly women-only rooms who will under no circumstances allow men to occupy those rooms. What are you doing or have you done about those?

"What if it was not just this restaurant but many others" It's not just this restaurant, it is many others. I was denied dining at two comparatively entry-level restaurants while visiting in 2008. They didn't give me an opportunity to indicate I'd cause them no problems, that I could easily pay or explain why they were denying me entry while allowing Japanese-looking folks to pass by me. I simply accepted it and assumed they have their reasons for not wanting to allow foreigners in rather than contributing to their not liking foreigners by causing them more problems. I'm not going to convince them to let me in by making a scene.

"The owners may still stick with their policy... ...discriminating against" "That isn't childish, that is just smart tactics to target improper behaviour." You may hold that view, but that's not for you to decide either. If Michelin want the restaurant to retain its stars, as may be the case evidenced by the fact there have been statements made against the restaurant about their policy in the past yet the restaurant still has those stars, then that's their right to do.

Your assumption is that Michelin have not been approached about this before and/or are unaware of it. Why does the restaurant now have two stars instead of three? Have you asked Michelin/the restaurant?

"There are far more effective and efficient ways to get this clarified. Social media and the press is most certainly that method" So what you're saying is you haven't even tried to ask if there are any alternative means of making a reservation? This is what makes me feel that you're being petty/childish. You could've asked before lobbying to have their stars revoked.

"there will be a greater likelihood that this will be addressed" This is like trying someone for murder before you've even taken the time get and investigate an alibi. You cannot pass judgement on someone without reasonable cause, which is what you're trying to have done right now.

"So, I choose an approach that I hope will have some likelihood of effecting change" Effecting change for something which might not need to be changed. Again, we have no evidence they don't have alternative methods of making a reservation.

@jpn_guy "And yes I know... ...so your point is moot" They're a private establishment, not a public one. They can close their doors whenever they want and are under no obligation to serve anyone if they feel like it.

"What would you think... ...or..." You conveniently provide examples for justification for such policies, ones which I'd agree with even if it denied me access as well. The problem are these problematic foreigners, not the supermarket's policy. Get the foreigners to behave and the policy doesn't need to exist. Simple.

"Not everyone lives in Tokyo. This is acceptable to you" Yes, because it's not their problem.

"By the way, what is your opinion... ...while turning away foreign customers?" How is it hypocritical? Michelin awarded them the stars, they didn't award the stars to themselves.

"Or on the contradiction... ...their own cultured good manners?" This and that have nothing to do with each other unless those commentators work for the restaurant.

"I have to admit... ...defend discriminatory behavior?" Because armchair activists who cause very real problems by calling for and engaging in their own brands of internet-based action when they have only minimal information or justification is becoming a real problem. Just look at what these people did because a company decided to launch a service they didn't agree with: http://imgur.com/a/K14fJ

Now imagine the problems this restaurant faces from people who don't care for appreciating the situation or getting any more information about it, just for the change they want to see being effected.

@wipeout "Seriously: are you going to try and sell the idea that such people "aren't really Japanese"?" No? I'm going to try and 'sell the idea' that this restaurant has no reason to believe someone they're interacting with over the phone isn't falsifying any information. If they'll blindly accept reservations from people who give a Japanese name and can provide a phone number in Japan, that would confirm they're engaging in a wholly-biased and problematic behaviour. However, we have as of yet not been provided with evidence of this being the case. There is a lot about this story which we do not know yet.

"True, you could book it that way, but why there should be a need to do so for someone living in Japan is unclear" We don't know Mo Bangfu didn't try to prove his residency; this isn't mentioned by the article.

A lot of people seem to be under the impression I'm in absolute defense of this guy's policies. My opinion on the matter may change depending on the exact circumstances. I don't act out against someone unless I have evidence to suggest such action would be justified, and I don't deem this policy at face-value to be justification enough to do so.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

@5patals

Say if a Tina were to try and rent an apartment in Hawaii and turned away because they were Japanese. It would be on the news but its a daily occurance in Japan. Explain that.

I 'd accept it without complaining if it happened to me thinking this is something I have to endure.

=======================================================================

tina is a Japanese, In Hawaii, I don't think she feels discriminated. Have you stayed in Hawaii> A whole bunch of Japanese Americans

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@kotoba no tachi

You need to show some respect, and not continuously expect the Japanese to change to suit your western-orientated expectation

This discussion has been very beneficial, if only to clarity your belief that If I object when someone who has never met me and knows nothing about me refuses point blank to provide me with a service solely on the basis of how I look, then I they are"civilized" I am showing a lack of a respect through my complaint.

We need to coin a name to describe this syndrome, which Theo also suffers from.

@Theo Thank you for admitting you see no problem with being banned from your local supermarket because of the actions of some other people you don't know and have never met.

Some might say this is quite an extreme position you are taking.

Let's turn the question around?

How many services would you have to be denied to find it unacceptable?

You have already suggested Japan's foreign residents should be happy to take, for example, two separate trips to Tokyo, one to pay a cash advance for a restaurant, and once again to actually eat.

Many people might suggest that accepting such impositions on certain individuals is no way to run a society.

But let's go with your opinion, and apply it back to the supermarket example.

You say you would be happy to be denied entry to your local shop. What if you live in a small town and all the shops start to deny foreigners entry?

This is admittedly unlikely (although given the way Japan's climate is heading you never know).

So this is my question. A foreigner lives in the Japanese countryside. Some tourist cause trouble in their local stores. Soon the resident find all the stores turning them away. By your logic, this is fine and dandy.

This foreigner is you. What you are going to do? Are you going to move so you can eat?

I would like to ask both @kotoba and @Theo where the line is for you?

I have presented some extreme examples, but at what level of service denial do you start to say "this is wrong?"

Where is your line in the sand? Do you have one? If you have no line in the sand, you are essentially saying minorities can be denied their rights at all time and for any reason at the whim of the majority.

I would also like to know how you feel about the potential for Japanese people who do not "look Japanese", can't speak Japanese, or who have a "non-Japanese sounding name" to be denied service.

If they complain are they also foisting Western mores on Japanese society?

I think your whole outlook lacks logical rigor.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@Theo:

I suggest you approach it your way and I'll approach it my way. I am pretty comfortable with my views on this, my approach for possibly proactively taking action and the rationale behind it, but you seem to firmly believe in your way of looking of at this and handling it. Fair enough. Let's agree to disagree.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You say you would be happy to be denied entry to your local shop. What if you live in a small town and all the shops start to deny foreigners entry?

I used to work with an American guy who had lived in Northern Hokkaido before working with me, and it was horrible. He was white, and the people in that town hated Russians. He couldn't go to the majority of shops in town, they just wouldn't serve him. He ended up quitting his job and leaving because of it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@toshiko

tina is a Japanese, In Hawaii, I don't think she feels discriminated. Have you stayed in Hawaii> A whole bunch of Japanese American

Yes, Ive met many japanese americans who live in hawaii and most Ive met are disconnected to Japan and are unaware of any racism etc that exsist in japan, they consider themselves Americans first. Ive never met one who defended japan, and I suspect Tina is a a native Japanese resdiing in Hawaii, escaping the rigors and rules of Japan, but of course still mantains loyality to Japan You will witness this allot from japanese outside their comfort zone. I dont consider Japanese Americans as japanese in the sense of Nihonjinron or other nationalism, they are just another part of the melting pot known as the U.S.Tina can enjoy all the laws and anti discrimination quota systems etc that the US has to offer but she will probably always consder herself to be Japanese first.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I was at Sukiyabashi Jiro and they let you know ahead of time that there is a cancelation fee. I think that other high end restaurants should take a deposit for reservations if this is their chief concern. This way, if the person, foreigner or not, cancels, they are compensated and a situation like the one experienced by this journalist can be avoided.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

He's lived in Japan for 30 YEARS & is FLUENT. The fault is not on his side. & we ALL know this. ----- PS I am aware of the USA's "sterling" record on race. If it's wrong in one country it's wrong in the other.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@5petals: I think tina lives in Japan and never visited USA. Haven't you read her comments everywhere?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hmmm. I must be missing something here. They don't take reservations from foreigners but complain about people cancelling their reservations without notice. That means the cancellations are coming from their Japanese clientele. That, or they are just trying to think of an excuse to support their clear discriminatory practices.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Maybe Mizutani does not take Japanese reservation but Japanese do not complain? Or it likes women reservation than men reservation?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@BuBuBu.

I think the not taking reservations from foreigners (except under the onerous conditions stated) is a recent thing. Google Comments lists glowing reports about the restaurant followed by one comment, posted one month ago before all this blew up, by a man who was denied a reservation.

Separately, I don't think we necessarily need to argue that the cancellation rate is equal across tourist and resident, Japanese and non-Japanese, white, black or Asian, in order for our point to be valid.

Sometimes differences in the numbers will emerge. Different groups may have different cultural expectations.

I think we can be sophisticated enough to grant that Mizutani may have legitimate business issues while at the same time utterly condemning the methods he has adopted to go about resolving them.

Too many people in Japan believe that problems that disproportionately affect one group justify measures that adversely affect all members (or perceived members) of that group.

There are cultural factors at play here too, like the way a football team in Japan is quickly taken out of the schedule if even one member steps out of line.

If we start disputing the initial numbers, we get sidetracked into the wrong debate. It then becomes too easy for the apologists for this behavior to say "see, foreigners do cancel more often" and miss the point entirely.

The only point is that the democratic world has already decided blanket ethnicity-based bans are a human rights violation.

The Japanese establishment cannot claim to be a "member of the free states" while expecting a free pass on violating what is a cornerstone of a democratic, free society.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

kotoba no tachi / I total agree with your thinking and your comment. I am Aussie who has move here to live. The main reason I live here now is because I can not fit back into the self-centred life style that have developed in the west over the last 30 years.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Almost Japanese think it is anything discriminatory ! In japan, especially the best Sushi restaurants, they select their customers since a very long time ago. It is Japan rules (culture). Why the Chinese wrote that report ? If he lived in japan 30 years, he should know the rules.

-8 ( +1 / -8 )

@theo

No. I'm going to try and 'sell the idea' that this restaurant has no reason to believe someone they're interacting with over the phone isn't falsifying any information. If they'll blindly accept reservations from people who give a Japanese name and can provide a phone number in Japan, that would confirm they're engaging in a wholly-biased and problematic behaviour.

Sounds like you got something twisted there. In my question, which you seem to be attempting to answer, though it reads confusingly, you're talking about people with Japanese names. I was talking about people with non-Japanese names, but who are nonetheless fully Japanese, born and raised here. That would include people with a foreign parent. It would also include people with zainichi status who have Korean or Chinese names.

The name is sufficient to raise a red flag with this restaurant, and to cirumvent it they can - by your suggestion - go through the silly and pricey little rigmarole you outlined above - drop 5000 yen on a hotel room (paid in full? reservation only? I didn't really get that part as 5000 yen hotels are pretty bare bones in terms of service) to secure the assistance of a concierge who can make a booking on their behalf.

What I'm trying to get you to understand, though you seem to be sidestepping it, is that people who live here might want to book a restaurant that's in the Michelin Guide. Those who have, from the restaurant's viewpoint, a wrong-sounding name, will get knocked back. That can apply even to people who are actually Japanese. It is discrimination, and the fact that Japanese would be affected by it, because of the restaurant's assumption that they are not Japanese, shows the ridiculous outcome of the restaurant's discriminatory rule - as does its treatment of Mo Bangfu, which got this story rolling in the first place.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Only for you people to see the other side of the story... Don't base your opinion on only one side....

http://netgeek.biz/archives/35449

After reading several articles regarding this matter, I still don't fully approve how the staff managed the situation... but I do understand the reason why they did so.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

kotoba no tachi "The practice of respecting others is why this country is SO civilized"

In what way does the behaviour of this restaurant exemplify this supposed practice? Perhaps you meant to write "The practice of respecting other Japanese ..."? But there are plenty of Japanese who are treated as inferior for various reasons, so I suggest this "practice" is far from universal amongst Japanese.

In the 21st century discrimination is unacceptable. The owner of this restaurant deserves to be shamed and exposed. Anyone who agrees with him is also a bigot and not worth listening to.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The net geek link is just one more person's once-sided view of the issue; Mizutani has problems with nouveau-riche Chinese tourists who cancel at the last minute and this, in the eyes of positive gamma 2015, justifies him giving all non-Japanese the run-around. If last-minute cancellations are such a problem, then why not impose the same reservation conditions - an up-front reservation fee, deducted from the cost of the meal and non-refundable in the case of a no-show - on all first-time potential customers?

'Some (or even lots of) people from a particular country behave badly, therefore it's OK to discriminate against all people from that country, or all people not from this country' is a reaction that is completely over the top, and indefensible.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Yoshida-H

It is Japan rules (culture). Why the Chinese wrote that report ? If he lived in japan 30 years, he should know the rules.

It's one restaurant. You're babbling about culture and Japan rules. What's the connection? I think many restaurants in Japan would be embarrassed by a rule like this, which is why they don't have it.

To consider your plaintive question about "the Chinese", which I suppose you believe self-supplies the answer "because he's anti-Japan", we can only speculate on the reasons, and I assume you don't intend to contact Mo and ask him in person, because you're not actually interested in the question. However, the report mentioned in this story, to which your comment applies, was actually written by Nikkan Gendai, rather than Mo Bangfu. So you could ask them.

But here are some possibilities concerning anything Mo may have written. I haven't bothered to verify any of them so consider them simply as ideas with some basis in normal life and human behaviour.

He put it in his blog. Everyone's got a blog. He writes professionally. Professional writers, especially columnists, tend to write about subjects that interest them, or that affect them in some way. He holds opinions, and believes in the right to express them. He had an experience, and thought it was worth sharing with others. His perspective on things happening in Japan might be different from that of Japanese people, and that might be interesting to present to Japanese readers. He wanted to stimulate discussion. He thinks it might make the restaurant reconsider its policy. He doesn't think the restaurant will reconsider its policy, but thinks the policy itself should be more widely known.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This action (special reservation rules for foreigners) would suggest to the self- centred minded is that it the Japanese that are being discriminated against. But the majority of Japanese are not offend by the special rules reversed for foreigners. I would be disturb if the restaurant had a sign stating FORNEIGNER NOT ALLOWED but reading the comment above, which have interpreted that there is such a sign.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

My reasons were originally in list format, each on separate lines, but never mind.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Only for you people to see the other side of the story... Don't base your opinion on only one side....

http://netgeek.biz/archives/35449

After reading several articles regarding this matter, I still don't fully approve how the staff managed the situation... but I do understand the reason why they did so.

I don't think anyone has not been able to understand why they did so - the reasons are pretty clear. The issue that we have is the response to what has happened. No matter which way you cut it, it is discrimination. Any time you make someone pay for the mistakes of others, simply due to sharing a color of skin/nationality/gender etc, it's discrimination. I don't run out on my reservations, and never have. So making me have to pay for the mistakes of others who have run out on their reservations, due to the fact that they are not Japanese, and I am not Japanese, is straight up ethnic discrimination. One can argue that it's justified all they want, but there is no argument that will show it's not discrimination, because it very clearly is.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

So if he post a security person on the front door because of people doing runners and not paying would that be deem as discrimination against all patrons. NO!!! like I have state, it purely a business decision base on profit and lose not on race or profession or sex. He is losing money due to people booking and not showing and notice the most of the booking are first time visitors with foreign names. If your a regular patron, weather Japanese or foreigner you can ring by phone and make a booking without a credit card. If your a regular visitor of cause that would not apply to this group.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@jpn_guy

Heck, you wrote about as good a post as anyone ever has on this news site!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"How many services would you have to be denied to find it unacceptable?" I'd never find it unacceptable that the service providers keep instating these policies, I'd find it unacceptable that other foreigners keep causing them to.

If someone starts hating people with guns because they keep getting caught in crossfire, are you going to criticise them for not wanting to be near people with guns, or criticise the people who keep shooting in their direction? Your rationale is backwards.

"Many people might suggest that accepting such impositions on certain individuals is no way to run a society" They do not need to eat at this place. Not being able to eat at this place does not have a negative impact on their lives. This is not like them being told that they cannot perform some act which they are obligated to do by the government which they must incurr an extra expense while nationals needn't do so; not unlike my having to travel 200km to go and register for/update my tax information while people who live close-by don't need to do so, and non-nationals are under no circumstances whatsoever able to arrange for any registrations/updates without being physically present in the offices while nationals are afforded some measure of leeway in this regard.

"So this is my question... ...this is fine and dandy" There is a VERY big difference between someone who has established their reputation as a 'local' and someone who is unknown to the shop contacting them out of the blue. Mo Bangfu might have been living in Japan for 30 years, but he has presumably never visited this restaurant so they do not know him from Adam.

"This foreigner is you... ...move so you can eat?" Yes, and if it happens that I have a good reason why I actually 'need' to go to that supermarket instead I will try to discuss the matter with their management and see if an arrangement can be made to allow me access.

"Where is your ... ...whim of the majority" Immigration policies. Discrimination against foreigners exists in forms you're not tackling whatsoever. You're the one who conveniently draws lines where it suits you but are fine with having no lines elsewhere. "I would also... ...be denied service." This has happened to me before an I accept it. If I cannot communicate with someone who wants to contract me for photographic services -let's say they're French and can't speak a word of Chinese- if they do not book their services using an interpreter and have their contract translated by someone qualified to translate legal documents from English to French and back again, I am going to deny them service. They can instead go and find a photographer who can communicate with them in French.

I will do this because from a business perspective it isn't worth the legal risks for me to have to deal with a client with whom I cannot communicate. Mo Bangfu is presumably more than fluent in Japanese, he actually taught it at a university; did he ever try to persuade this restaurant of his capability, or did he just have the phone put down when they gave him conditions on the basis of his name? We still don't know what happened in the call.

@Michael Rhian "If it's wrong in one country it's wrong in the other" Monogomy is considered 'wrong' by some traditions in some countries. For women to be allowed to drive or to receive higher education is considered 'wrong' in some other countries. There are all sorts of things some countries consider 'wrong' which are considered 'right' in others. Using any one country as the system of measurement for others is a very bad idea.

@jpn_guy "The only point is that the democratic world has already decided blanket ethnicity-based bans are a human rights violation." How many times must it be repeated before you will understand this restaurant is not outright banning anyone? And why do you keep bringing up this absolute generalizing nonsense about "the democratic world"? Look at South Africa. We have many ways in which people are discriminated against by the government on a daily basis purely because of their ethnicity - yet we're a democratic country.

@wipteout The wording of my reply isn't 'confusing'. Just read it again. If they automatically accept reservations from people with Japanese names despite not knowing what their ethnicity is over the phone and have no deposit requirements or the like, yet at the same time automatically place conditions on anyone with a non-Japanese name or have deposit requirements without taking the time to investigate whether that person is actually a citizen etc, then there is obviously a clear case of baseless discrimination. Again, and I'll repeat this till I'm blue in the face since people just don't seem to freaking get it; we do not have all the facts behind how this restaurant's policy works or how they conduct their business, only that information which has been made available so far.

@cleo "'Some (or even lots of) people from a particular country behave badly... ...indefensible." Please go deal with this discrimination against people from particular countries for me? http://imgur.com/nnpq24c

As a South African I have to make an appointment to visit the Consulate here in South Africa in person to fill in a form and undergo a brief interview, and pay a fee on top of my travel expenses of R300 in order to even be considered for a visa. I need to be able to prove that I have hotel reservations (with paid invoices) for the duration of my stay and/or that I have a sufficient amount of available funds in my bank account and no outstanding debts. I must have a thoroughly planned out itinerary and be able to show that where significant distances will be traveled (such as Tokyo to Nagasaki) that I have set aside money for or have a JR Rail Pass voucher purchased to cover the trip. If I lack any of these, there's a very good chance my visa application will be rejected.

On the other hand, if I were a citizen of any one of that first group of countries, I wouldn't need to do any of that at all, saving me a lot of time, money and effort on my part, as I wouldn't need to make unnecessary hotel bookings only to cancel those and potentially have to pay cancellation fees because I actually intended on staying with a friend or camping while touring through the country.

This issue has been valid for me as a South African since 2005 at the very least. It's 2015 now. Have you tried to do anything about this? No? Then your and others' priorities where you keep decrying nationality-based discrimination are seriously misplaced.

Other countries have similar policies for tourists. Are any of you doing anything about those? No? Then calm down until you get all the necessary facts to lay your judgements against this restaurant.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Please go deal with this discrimination against people from particular countries for me? http://imgur.com/nnpq24c

There is no 'discrimination against people from particular countries' on that page. The default is that any foreigner needs a valid passport and visa to enter the country. Some countries have established reciprocal arrangements whereby citizens of either country can enter without needing to apply for a visa beforehand (it's granted automatically on entry). Maybe your country should be engaged in negotiations to establish a reciprocal agreement?

Now, if the immigration authorities made a person jump through all those visa hoops even though he or she was a citizen of one of the first group of countries, or was permanently resident in Japan, just because the name sounded like it came from somewhere else - that would be reason to kick up a fuss.

There is a VERY big difference between someone who has established their reputation as a 'local' and someone who is unknown to the shop contacting them out of the blue.

So, treat all non-regular/first-time customers the same.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

it purely a business decision base on profit and lose not on race or profession or sex.

It's based on ethnicity - one rule for people with Japanese names, one for the rest.

He is losing money due to people booking and not showing and notice the most of the booking are first time visitors with foreign names.

And so he has chosen to discriminate based on ethnicity.

If your a regular patron, weather Japanese or foreigner you can ring by phone and make a booking without a credit card.

What does that have to do with anything?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@cleo So you don't see it as 'discrimination' that there is a policy in place which discerns people from some countries from others for the purpose of determining whether they ought to be allowed entry without already having a visa?

Japanese citizens don't need a visa coming to South Africa. They can get one when landing here and don't need to go through anything nearly like South Africans going to Japan need to; no hoops of significance for them to jump through to be granted access.

For this restaurant the same is true of people suspected to be Japanese citizens versus people who aren't. Of course, immigration control is far more strict and thorough than this restaurant's reservation policy appears to be on the surface, so regardless of whether someone coming to South Africa looks like or has a name attributable to an exempt country or not, they're still going to ask for their passport to determine their nationality.

What we don't know of this restaurant just yet is whether they still require some form of confirmation from people who give a Japanese name and telephone number; as I said already, if they don't there's clearly baseless discrimination taking place as they're not applying even the most basic of vetting to these people while those with non-Japanese names have to be vetted as a rule, which would be a very distinct problem which ought to be addressed, as that would be biased behaviour. I wouldn't go so far as to call for them to completely remove their policy if it has merit in existing, but assuming the aforementioned is true I would definitely call for them to broaden their vetting system to firstly ensure they're not drawing a baseless conclusion against people with non-Japanese names and secondly are still ensuring people with Japanese names are in fact permanent residents in the country and not just 'passing through'.

That said, right now people going to this restaurant with non-Japanese names can still make their reservations there provided they jump through hoops. There may be easier hoops to jump through we're not aware of (using a different means of paying a deposit which doesn't require a hotel/CC company concierge). Similarly, people not on Japan's visa exemption list can still visit the country if they jump through through hoops, as people suspected to be non-citizens can still rent through agencies requiring guarantors of foreigners if they're willing to jump through those hoops.

If South Africa should be approaching Japan to arrange for a reciprocation of visa exemption -on the assumption they have not already tried doing so before and had the proposal rejected on some unknown grounds- then in the same way people should be approaching the restaurant to have the policy changed -assuming this has not been done before and the proposal rejected on unknown grounds- to something more agreeable, not going straight to Michelin with demands without confirmation they haven't already been approached regarding the matter and it hasn't already been investigated before.

For any of us to fully support or condemn this policy, we need more information on the particulars of what it entails. Else people might as well start raving against women-only hostel rooms which may be going un-utilized, too. Why discriminate against people who have a penis? They'd probably allow transgenders, so hoops could be jumped through to be able to make use of those rooms, no? Why discriminate against those who happen to have a penis, even if they've got 30 years of proving they won't cause problems for women under their belt and are perfectly-fluent in interacting with them socially?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

For any of us to fully support or condemn this policy, we need more information on the particulars of what it entails.

Maybe you can get him to put it in writing.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Maybe the employees dislike him? Some gaikins try to show orr they know Japan and Japanese lau ngiage better than Japanese/ Dpn't you notice here some people are writing their half baked Japanese even here? The attitude of Won could be I know Japanese languageabd Japanese better than you low class restaurants em[loyees .

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Maybe the employees dislike him? Some gaikins try to show orr they know Japan and Japanese lau ngiage better than Japanese/ Dpn't you notice here some people are writing their half baked Japanese even here? The attitude of Won could be I know Japanese languageabd Japanese better than you low class restaurants em[loyees .

If you're looking to lay some blame on Mo, the possibilities are endliess. Go for it!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@wipeout While I'd like to, unlike some commenting elsewhere saying they're taking action regarding this I can't say I'm fluent enough in Japanese to be able to contact him/the restaurant and ask that they explain their policy/policies and reservation procedures in detail. I'm unlikely to fully understand what they say to me and to be able to question what they have to say.

Unless, of course, they've since hired an English-speaking staff member who interacts with English-speaking callers instead.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I would definitely call for them to broaden their vetting system to firstly ensure they're not drawing a baseless conclusion against people with non-Japanese names

For all the long, long posts you've written on this topic, have you not bothered to read the article? They did draw a baseless conclusion against a Japanese-speaking long-term resident, purely on account of his non-Japanese name. It states clearly, the person taking the booking suddenly changed his attitude on hearing the Chinese-sounding name.

That said, right now people going to this restaurant with non-Japanese names can still make their reservations there provided they jump through hoops.

Why would anyone want to jump through any hoops for the 'privilege' of paying through the nose for raw fish and rice? Let Mr Mizutani keep his exclusive hole-in-the-wall, one-trick menu-less restaurant. But it's less than honourable of him to use the Michelin stars to attract overseas customers and then assume they're all out to diddle him.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

"Discriminatory" and "racist"? But, eating Sushi is a choice. It is not a civil right or human right. Sushi owner can say whatever he/she wants to say.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Mo, a resident of Japan for 30 years who is fluent in Japanese,

@wipeoutL I wrote my allegation on above description which must be given by him.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

You know what the real problem is? Mo Bangfu's name. He should change his name to a Japanese-sounding one. Problem solved.

sarcasm
0 ( +0 / -0 )

@toshiko We all know that people who are considered "fluent" all love to be arrogant and show native speakers their impressive knowledge.

@Theo Lubbe You keep saying that we have no idea what happened during the call. The Nikkan-Gendai article that came before this one clearly states that Mo had his Japanese secretary call to make the reservation. It was noted that there was an immediate change in attitude from the staff as soon as his foreign sounding name was mentioned. Mo proceeded to get on the phone and actually try and reassure the staff member that he was a long term resident and spoke Japanese. He even tried to explain who his guests were so they would be reassured - and they made no attempt to accommodate him.

Someone from Nikkan-Gendai called Mizutani to interview the staff and clarify the policy. They explained that they had to have the policy due to reservation abandonment and since they felt that they could not discern tourists from residents over the phone and that the policy was "across the board".

So - to recap:

Mo did get on the phone himself and tried to reassure the staff member and they made no attempt to work something out - it was a straight refusal

When asked to elaborate on their policy they offered no options for residents and said they have to apply the policy "across the board"

Here is the article for your reference:

http://www.nikkan-gendai.com/articles/view/news/15935>6

2 ( +2 / -0 )

if I am a foreigner living in Tokyo and not staying in a hotel (so can't make a reservation via a hotel) and I don't have a credit card that offers a service that allows me to make a reservation via a credit card company, what am I supposed to do??

Go to a better restaurant, one that deserves your custom. There are plenty to choose from.

Best post and reply here. It's a shame I can only thumb it "Up" once.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@cleo "For all the long, long posts you've written on this topic, have you not bothered to read the article? They did draw a baseless conclusion against a Japanese-speaking long-term resident, purely on account of his non-Japanese name." Did you not notice that sentence hadn't ended yet?

"Why would anyone want to jump through any hoops for the 'privilege' of paying through the nose for raw fish and rice? Let Mr Mizutani keep his exclusive hole-in-the-wall, one-trick menu-less restaurant. But it's less than honourable of him to use the Michelin stars to attract overseas customers and then assume they're all out to diddle him." Again, he didn't award himself those stars.

@SaineTarnaious Thanks for the link. It's going to take me a few days before I can sit and read through it and translate it myself to ensure I'm understanding it all correctly, but based on this part in particular

旅行客かそうでないかは、電話だけでは判別できません。海外の客には、一律でこういう対応をしています

If I'm to understand this correctly it's saying what I suspected; if they suspect someone is a non-citizen they will automatically have their foreigner-specific policy come into play since confirming their residency over the phone alone cannot be done. Now, that being said, I see no indication in the article as to whether they're trying to confirm the residency of people with Japanese names in some way; surely the name alone provided over the phone is insufficient regardless of who it belongs to, so why couldn't the same inability to confirm residency apply for people with Japanese names?

In any event, having only skimmed the article's romanized form I couldn't see anything about Mo Bangfu exploring options for proving his residency other than over the phone, but I also don't see them offering him any such methods, which is a problem on its own if that article is reporting on the call in its entirety.

I'd be interested to hear a recording of a call like that to hear exactly how the staff are interacting both with people like him who are told to make use of the hotel/CC company concierge services, and people with Japanese names.

Someone I was discussing/arguing the matter with on a Gaijinpot post on Facebook about it said they were going to phone and provide a Japanese name and number to make a fake reservation just to see what would happen; they presumably speak fluent Japanese and thus believe they shouldn't be suspected of not being Japanese. Assuming they were to follow through I'd have liked to hear that conversation. I can't find the same Gaijinpot post anymore, though.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

It is in Tokyo. If you want to fool by your fluent Japanese, make sure you will be talking with Tokyo yamanote accent. And make sure you pronounce your Japanese name like native born Japanese say. Don't be arrested for business harassment,

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Is this a record number of comments?

Amazing that so many people are upset about not being able to dine at a place that costs at least 20,000 yen.

I just wonder how good life must be to be able to blow that much money on sushi and then get upset about it when you can't.

I'm wondering if perhaps Mizutani knows other customers like eating at a place without foreigners.

Anyway, for a completely different take from a gaijin..

It's his business. If he's had problems before then it's his right to refuse anyone he wants. If I knew someone didn't want me as a foreigner to eat at his restaurant, it wouldn't bother me in the slightest, and I probably wouldn't feel comfortable eating there anyway. I also don't mind if someone doesn't want to rent to me. It's their house.

People who run businesses should be able to run them the way they want. If you don't want to work there, don't. If you don't want to buy from them, don't. He might lose customers over this, but on the other hand, he might gain just as many.

And people calling up pretending to be Japanese now? And calling Michelin? Surprised at how angry people get over a restaurant they'll probably never go to, and probably don't want to go to.

So, I'm with Tina and the right-wingers on this one. Wow!

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

PeaceTrain: "1. It's his business. If he's had problems before then it's his right to refuse anyone he wants."

So, no African-Americans, no women, no people with disabilities, no homosexuals, no Shinto people.... all of that is okay with you so long as he holds the deed?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@toshiko

I wrote my allegation on above description which must be given by him.

Weeeell, I don't find your "must be" very convincing. It seems to be based on a little bit of half-arsed reading and a lot of interpretation so that a desired conclusion can be reached.

So my comment was a reminder that when your allegation falls flat, you can cook up some new ones.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Peacetrain, thank you for mentioning me, I respect you and other similar posters.

@SaineTarnaious

If "Tourists" are a high risk group why can't then just apply this rule to tourists? Why does he have to treat long term Japan residents the same way as someone who's only here for a few days?

These sushi chefs are devoting their lives in sushi. They have no time dealing with irresponsible and rude customers. Mizutani is a small shop, not enough staff to carefully screen no-shows. The rule they set may not be perfect and would be losing some good prospective customers like Mo, but it is their loss. They don't deserve retaliation from angry posters.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Is this a record number of comments?

Amazing that so many people are upset about not being able to dine at a place that costs at least 20,000 yen.

I just wonder how good life must be to be able to blow that much money on sushi and then get upset about it when you can't.

I'm wondering if perhaps Mizutani knows other customers like eating at a place without foreigners.

Anyway, for a completely different take from a gaijin.. 1. It's his business. If he's had problems before then it's his right to refuse anyone he wants. 2. If I knew someone didn't want me as a foreigner to eat at his restaurant, it wouldn't bother me in the slightest, and I probably wouldn't feel comfortable eating there anyway. 3. I also don't mind if someone doesn't want to rent to me. It's their house.

People who run businesses should be able to run them the way they want. If you don't want to work there, don't. If you don't want to buy from them, don't. He might lose customers over this, but on the other hand, he might gain just as many.

And people calling up pretending to be Japanese now? And calling Michelin? Surprised at how angry people get over a restaurant they'll probably never go to, and probably don't want to go to.

So, I'm with Tina and the right-wingers on this one. Wow!

Wow! Is right. Dillusional is more accurate though. Their are foreigners here in Japan who pay taxes to the Japanese government, who have spouses and children and are registered residents, and finally foreign born Japanese citizens. They don't deserve to be refused service simply because of their ethnicity or because what other foreigners may have done in the past. This "son must bear the sins of the father" logic that your using is hypocritical just as much as your name, peacetrain, is. Their can never be peace as long as racism and discrimination run rampant.

I doubt your honesty when you say you wouldn't be offended if you were denied service here. You're just playing up to the Japanese hoping for acceptance which you'll never get. Why not promote real peace in the world and denounce discrimination where it exists?

And it doesn't matter if people want to spend ¥20,000 on sushi. It's their money and their prerogative. Just because you can't afford it doesn't justify your cheap moral shot. Please take of the gaijin monkey suit and stop the tap dance routine. It's offends my senses.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

tinawatanabe: "They don't deserve retaliation from angry posters."

They most certainly do, for being racist. Do you want to celebrate racism in Japan with the Olympics coming? Even without them it should never, ever be permitted. When it happens to Japanese people abroad they complain as well, just like what happened with a Japanese musician in France recently.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I made many typos in my previous comment. I meant there instead of their.

Anyway, Tina should try to make a reservation using only her first name.

It's useless to try and discuss these things with her. She has on blinkers that were put there by her education that prevents her from seeing.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It's his business. If he's had problems before then it's his right to refuse anyone he wants.

If he's running a business drawing clientelle from the general public, then he has a social obligation to accept everyone, with the ebbs and flows that brings. If he wants to draw from a limited membership, then he has to call his business a "club".

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@peacetrain

Wow! Is right. Dillusional is more accurate though. There are foreigners here in Japan who pay taxes to the Japanese government, who have spouses and children and are registered residents, and finally foreign born Japanese citizens. They don't deserve to be refused service simply because of their ethnicity or because what other foreigners may have done in the past. This "son must bear the sins of the father" logic that your're using is hypocritical just as much as your name, peacetrain, is. There can never be peace as long as racism and discrimination run rampant.

I doubt your honesty when you say you wouldn't be offended if you were denied service here. You're just playing up to the Japanese hoping for acceptance which you'll never get. Why not promote real peace in the world and denounce discrimination where it exists?

And it doesn't matter if people want to spend ¥20,000 on sushi. It's their money and their prerogative. Just because you can't afford it doesn't justify your cheap moral shot. Please take of the gaijin monkey suit and stop the tap dance routine. It's offends my senses.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The rule they set may not be perfect and would be losing some good prospective customers like Mo, but it is their loss. They don't deserve retaliation from angry posters.

Posters are the least of their problems.

They knocked back a potential customer based on him being Chinese. He happened to be sufficiently articulate and educated and well-established in Japan to be able to make a few waves about this, either because someone heard about it and followed up with him, or because he, on his own initiative, put the story out there, which of course he is fully entitled to do.

There really is no way that a restaurant that has received so much public (and international) recognition could ever hope to keep such a policy secret: it is in effect public property as soon as they apply it, and at that point, it's out of their hands. Why I say it is the least of their problems is because this started not with angry posters, but with a Japanese publication. I hope you're capable, for all your commenting here, of understanding that a Japanese tabloid thought it newsworthy for a mostly Japanese readership. From there it can be picked up by anyone, and it has been: just from casual browsing I have seen it reported in Shanghai, Australia, and England-based news sites/newspapers.

That is the very definition of self-inflicted damage.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I keep coming back to this thread to read the comments, as I want to see if there are any new views/ideas being discussed. It looks like, at this point, every possible view or idea has been presented, rebutted, countered and re-presented.

Except for this idea, although it has been alluded to. My son is a Japanese citizen. If he was an adult and still retained his Japanese citizenship and lived in Tokyo and called to try to make a reservation, it would appear he would be subject to the requirements imposed on foreigners. Because his last name is not Japanese. Wouldn't matter that he would be a Japanese citizen speaking fluent Japanese. And yet another Japanese citizen whose name is Tanaka or Suzuki or Watanabe would not have an issue.

So, that just highlights the misguided nature of Mizutani's approach to solving what may be a legitimate business problem.

With that said, I am going to go enjoy my lunch, which happens to be takeout sushi, and then get out there and enjoy the beautiful day!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@zones2surf

My son is a Japanese citizen. If he was an adult and still retained his Japanese citizenship and lived in Tokyo and called to try to make a reservation, it would appear he would be subject to the requirements imposed on foreigners. Because his last name is not Japanese. Wouldn't matter that he would be a Japanese citizen speaking fluent Japanese.

And the same could apply to his children!

What makes the rule absurd is that in many cases, the name being "not Japanese" is simply be an outcome of the sex of the foreign parent. A child with a Japanese mother and foreign father is far more likely (though of course not certain) to end up with a foreign name. People with the same ethnic background (a Japanese and a non-Japanese parent) would be categorized differently simply because one has a Japanese name and the other doesn't.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@jpn_guyAPR. 30, 2015 - 09:16PM JST

Thanks for your well-reasoned reply. On your points, as a practical matter, Abe could hardly have said anything else anyway, but to the essence of the issue, is democracy, usually defined as the "rule of the people" necessarily mean non-discrimination? Was the United States a democracy before universal suffrage or the end of blatant discrimination against the female gender and the colored minorities. Like it or not, I think most people would answer YES.

Definitions of democracy aside, it seems that Japanese indeed do not have some kind of instinctive "ick" towards low-level discrimination. In this, I'm very Japanese though I live in Hong Kong and my total time in Japan is about a year (of 30).

BTW, even in the "West", it is not completely true that "'remedial action' would be rejected out of hand because it contravenes greater, more important principles" - consider US police racial profiling, which is quite a well-studied phenomena. I find that a thousand times more distressing than this restaurant thing. For non-racial issues, I also find the NSA's continuous attempts to violate our privacy more distressing - I find some great, important principles being rolled over here.

I suspect the Japanese people similarly feel more natural "ick" about the State over-reaching its bounds than anti-discrimination. Like it or not, anti-discrimination laws are the State banning certain actions, and can easily be stretched.

Lacking this natural "ick", it is inevitable that all our evaluations of discrimination are made on a case by case basis. For example, I would be more sympathetic if Mr. Mo lived in the boonies and this Mizutani is the only decent sushi shop within 50 km. Or if this policy applies to every respectable sushi shop. I'll also be more sympathetic if they issued a blanket No rather than just him having to go through one more loop. Really Mr. Mo (or you), I know you don't have hotels or credit card companies vouching for you, but you don't have one Japanese friend that can make the reservation for you, and you sub in "the last minute"?

Regarding equality issues, it is often achieve all aspects of equality is often insoluble. Equal treatment for all groups, regardless of their performance, de facto shafts the leading group. In a democracy, the balancing lines should also be determined democratically, and with Japanese feeling less natural ick than the West on this issue (and also many fewer minorities screaming for their rights), it is inevitable that the line will fall somewhere that's more discriminatory than what is acceptable in the West (but then, the US push to end racial profiling, for one, clearly is not strong enough to be a complete success either.- maybe it is a faith in police that's acting as a counterpressure here). That is not anti-democratic, but democracy in action.

Finally, re anti-discrimination ordinance, some would disagree but my experiences suggest they only work when most of society (especially the privileged class) feels ready, with only a few outcasts to rope in. Otherwise, it ends up like Prohibiition in the States. Closer to my experience, due to antidiscrimination ordinance my company is unable to honestly say we only hire Female Office Assistants. So we pretend there is no restriction. Used to be, males kind of "got it" but for some reason this round they didn't. We first tried pretending we had already hired (even though we hadn't), ending their false hopes as this stage. Then someone decided to be particularly anal and complained if we had Hired why isn't our Ad taken down. So now we don't even say that and pretend to take down their details, and of course we "forget" to call back. We've just wasted everyone's time and given out false hope, for the sake of this unenforceable antidiscrimination ordinance.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Kazuaki: "Closer to my experience, due to antidiscrimination ordinance my company is unable to honestly say we only hire Female Office Assistants."

So, that only means you are part of the problem. Working openly and admittedly for a company that practices discrimination, and suggesting a certain level of discrimination should be accepted or else -- oh! the burden it places on everyone to pretend it's not discrimination you practice!! The trouble it causes!

Wouldn't it just be a better idea to end the discrimination instead of just pretending to?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

They knocked back a potential customer based on him being Chinese. He happened to be sufficiently articulate and educated and well-established in Japan to be able to make a few waves about this

This is a very American mentality that the successful should receive a better treatment. Mizutani staff just can't afford wasting time and money so they set up a rule by which they are aware of losing lots of good customers. I imagine Mizutani appreciates the people who appreciate his sushi, successful or not.

-11 ( +0 / -11 )

This is a very American mentality that the successful should receive a better treatment.

There is no suggestion that anyone should be treated better on account of being successful. What people are saying is that people should not be treated differently on account of their name or ethnicity. Just treat everyone the same.

And tina, we aren't all Americans.

due to antidiscrimination ordinance my company is unable to honestly say we only hire Female Office Assistants

Why do you hire only female office assistants? Is it a job that requires a vagina, or that is made impossible by the presence of a penis? What on earth are they assisting with??

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There is no suggestion that anyone should be treated better on account of being successful.

There're many comments above how successful Mo is.

-13 ( +0 / -13 )

There're many comments above how successful Mo is.

Really? Admittedly I've only skimmed through the comments (life is too short....) but I do not see 'many comments about how successful Mo is'. I see some comments about how he is not a tourist, about how he is a long-term resident, about how he speaks fluent Japanese, about how he is unlikely to be a no-show. All of which should make Mizutani's reasons for refusing his reservation null and void.

Not that it's relevant. There are many comments about how wonderful the sushi in this place is, but that doesn't mean that this kind of discrimination would be OK if it were kaiten sushi; or alternatively if prices started from ¥40,000 instead of ¥20,000, or if every piece of raw fish was coated in gold foil.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@tinawatanabe

This is a very American mentality that the successful should receive a better treatment.

I didn't say he should receive better treatment, nor do I believe he should (try to remember that), and I'm not American (try to remember that too, it'll improve your putdowns).

I have no real idea of his level of success, but I know that if he has made a career as a columnist, has worked with NHK, and has acted as an advisor to official bodies in Japan (related to business and tourism, for example), he's quite well placed to either blog about this, write about it in another publication, or mention it to friends or colleagues who themselves might pass it along. Somehow it was covered by Nikkan Gendai, and I will repeat the point for you, just because I like saying it:

Nikkan Gendai is a Japanese publication with a mostly Japanese readership.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I didn't say he should receive better treatment

There were comments above suggesting he should (such as sangetsu03), so I thought you did too. But then you wrote again how successful he was. What else reason other than he should be treated better do you have to mention that? It seems unrelated. I know he's well known in Japan.

I'm not American (try to remember that too, it'll improve your putdowns).

I'll try to remember.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

Mr Noidall.

No seriously. It wouldn't bother me. I probably have an extreme view of freedom. It just doesn't bother me that a shop or a business especially a small one owned by one person has rules about accepting customers.

I realise that's unusual, but that's my view. I think there's enough room for little sushi shops to cater for different people.

I also realise that you are all upset about the principle of it all. For me, if I REALLY wanted to go to that restaurant and it was SO important for me to eat there, I'd probably go there, talk to the owner tell him I'd really love to eat there, ask him what problems he's had before - and offer to pay up front.

But....There is no way I'd pay 20,000 yen for myself to eat sushi. And if I brought three others, I'd probably be dying of guilt that we spent 80,000 yen on rice and raw fish.

I'd rather give the money to some charity.

But if I were a gazillionaire who thought nothing of me and my friends dropping 800 bucks on sushi? I'd probably just go somewhere else.

And that's got nothing to do with monkey suits and dancing. But maybe you're right. He should call it a club. And on that note, it doesn't bother me that some people want men's only clubs or women's only clubs or lesbian Muslims clubs or whatever.

I'm sure if Mo went to see this owner they could sort it out. Maybe we could hear some more stories about why he ended up that way.

No cheap shot was intended either. I am seriously just surprised it means so much to people that they'd get so upset about a sushi owner having strange admission practices.

ps I guess if you are so offended by my post it probably follows that this sushi guy really offends you.

A snooty upscale sushi chef like him probably has other things you wouldn't like either - like not wanting to hire female chefs! see, that's crazy to me too, but if people want to be like that let them.

There are a lot more things that upset me than having to use some special credit card to eat there.

it's probably a great marketing move. Now he'll have all these gaijin breaking their banks forcing him to let them in as customers just because they want the right.

And if gaijin boycott the place, it will probably be seen as some exclusive place for Japanese only.

But it's his call. I say let the market decide.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@tinawatanable:

I think the point that @wipeout was trying to make was that Mr. Mo's relative success, reputation, network and longevity in Japan gave him the ability and access to highlight his experience so that it was picked up by journalists and publications, including a Japanese publication. As opposed to, say, someone like me. Who is not nearly as successful, not well known in Japan and doesn't have any special contacts. But who is a long-term resident, speaks very good Japanese and absolutely adores wonderful sushi. If I had had the same experience as Mr. Mo, it is unlikely any articles would have been written about it. The best I could have done would have been to have written a review on Trip Advisor or Yelp or something like that. I believe that was the point @wipeout was trying to make in mentioning Mr. Mo's success and his ability to make waves.

@Peacetrain,

But it's his call. I say let the market decide.

I actually completely agree with you on this. I disagree with Mizutani's policy and think it is a crude way to address a business problem that could be addressed in far easier and less discriminatory manners.

However, in this case, it is his restaurant, one of thousands in Tokyo, so in the end I think he is free to do what he wants.

Equally, I think I am free to do what I want, including highlighting his discriminatory policy to others, including Michelin.

And Michelin is free to do what it wants if it becomes aware of the issue, including removing his Michelin stars if they so choose.

And the government is free to do what it wants, including potentially passing anti-discrimination legislation for public establishments like restaurants.

All of those things are part of the market. And I do believe in it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@tinawatanabe

There were comments above suggesting he should (such as sangetsu03), so I thought you did too. But then you wrote again how successful he was. What else reason other than he should be treated better do you have to mention that? It seems unrelated.

I have already said it as well as necessary - no, really - so just read the comment again.

I don't have anything to add, and rephrasing it isn't worth the effort, or the likely result from your end. Zones2surf has done it anyway, and I fully endorse his interpretation in every respect (Thank you Z).

3 ( +3 / -0 )

tinawatanabe: "But then you wrote again how successful he was. What else reason other than he should be treated better do you have to mention that? It seems unrelated. I know he's well known in Japan."

What is your definition of successful? Mizutani staff have tried to justify their racism, and you yours, by saying that they practice the racism because foreigners cannot understand Japanese well, or that they might not show up for reservations, or don't know Japanese customs, etc. Mo DOES speak Japanese well, probably knows more about Japanese culture than you do, probably shows up for reservations more than most Japanese do, and so all of the reasons Mizutani has for refusing him are simply empty justifications for being racist. You yourself have said that it's because "Mizutani would lose money if foreigners were late" or "didn't show", but you know full well Japanese are just as often late or don't show as foreigners. None of the lies you guys use as justification for your racism is true, and so what is all this garbage about 'success' suddenly?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I feel posters here have less respect than Japanese to sushi chef. Sushi chefs have to spend more time and effort than you imagine to prepare sushi. It requires many years of stoic training.

I imagine the most important thing for Mizutani was to be free from no-shows. I don't think he cares much how successful the prospective customers he lost by the rule are. He set the rule, he's aware his rule is not fail proof, but accept it in exchange of simple rule, that's my guess.

-16 ( +0 / -16 )

tinawatanabe: "I feel posters here have less respect than Japanese to sushi chef. Sushi chefs have to spend more time and effort than you imagine to prepare sushi. It requires many years of stoic training."

I think that, as usual, you are taking your personal racist feelings and projecting and misdirecting anger at everyone around you who does not completely agree. I have NO doubt at all that EVERY poster on here knows that, same as with any other food, preparing good sushi is not an easy task -- and sorry, tina, but suggesting sushi or 'washoku' in general requires more stoicism and sacrifice, training, and skill than any other type of food is complete rubbish. Anyone who trains to be a professional chef, regardless of food or nationality, has to go through very rigorous training.

"He set the rule, he's aware his rule is not fail proof, but accept it in exchange of simple rule, that's my guess."

Because he's a racist bigot. I wonder if he would care if he lost his stars? I bet he would care a LOT, but he would take a defensive tone and suggest "Michelin does not understand Japanese culture. I don't care about them!" The same kind of tone you take in defense of obvious racism and its very justified criticism.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

How about make reservation with American woman's name with English? My daughters who only speak Californian English had no problem, They did not show resume and they are loud but no problem. They just speak loud like they do in Vegas restaurants.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I wonder if he would care if he lost his stars? I bet he would care a LOT

I don't think he cares much. I imagine free from no-shows is the most priority. I said it many times above.

-15 ( +0 / -15 )

tinawatanabe: "I imagine free from no-shows is the most priority. I said it many times above."

Then he better start refusing Japanese customers who want to make reservations, because they are also often no-shows. You ignore that fact, but it's true. And you say you don't care, and he wouldn't care, but for someone who doesn't care you sure post a lot talking about hurt feelings. And people like Mizutani and yourself DO care very much what others think -- when praised, as he has been with Michelin, they pat themselves on the back very much and brag about how great they are, but when criticized lie and deny the pain they feel.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

@zones2surf

Agreed. So it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Of cause every restaurant loves to get many stars. More customers

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Then he better start refusing Japanese customers who want to make reservations

I'm sure he refuses Japanese customers too. The excellent craftsmen often choose its customers. I have several experiences of being turned down myself, for instance by a famous piano tuner. But craftsmen are traditionally highly respected here.

If a tourist or a resident were refused, isn't it a part of experience? Try next time with a different approach or go another place.

-13 ( +1 / -14 )

@tina: If anyone pays same money they should get same treatment. No need to go somewhere else. I don't think they are as obnoxious as we are.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Tina

If a tourist is refused, isn't it a part of experience?

This is a great concept. I never thought of it that way.

Why not suggest it to the Japan National Tourist Organization?

They could start tours where people come to Japan to specifically have the unique cultural experience of being refused service on the part of their race.

People could chat about how their refusal was for them.

Service providers can get advice from the tourist office on different refusal skills and techniques to hone their approach.

Tourist can all tell their friends about their service refusal adventures and recommend they try it sometime.

I think you are on to a whole new marketing strategy here and applaud your innovation.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

@tinawatanabe

I'm sure he refuses Japanese customers too.

Because they're Japanese?

There is a difference, as you can see.

Though if he had a pattern of not taking reservations from women, or from gays, or any of the usual targets for discrimination, it would be noticed, and he would get negative publicity for it. The same kind of negative publicity he is getting now.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Tina Watanabe: I feel posters here have less respect than Japanese to sushi chef. Sushi chefs have to spend more time and effort than you imagine to prepare sushi. It requires many years of stoic training.

No Tina you are missing the point. He doesn't take the phone calls an employee does. He doesn't even have to life his eyes off his chef duties. Again, reading is fundamental so read the whole article because you seem to be missing this.

Two, in other advanced nations and civilizations today discrimination can be legally punished. You being Japanese and turned down for that reason in another nation what would yo do. Shoganai as you suggest people do here in Japan, or would you seek legal redress?

Three, you really seem to have a pathological hatred for non-Japanese people judging from the sum total of your comments on JT. I think you simply are a racist and are in denial of this fact.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

tinal Why you are writing fakse picture of Mizutani? Have you been to Mizutani? It never said it could not care less of star system,. It never said they could not care less. Please do not write your funny guess about Mizutani. Mizutani Chef never met yiu. Arte you trying to degrade Mizutani without meeting them>
-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@jpn.guy: "This is a great concept. I never thought of it that way."

Why not? We all have something not accepted, but just let it pass.

@wipeout: "Because they're Japanese? "

No. smithinjapan said " he better start refusing Japanese customers who want to make reservations" , so, I said I'm sure some Japanese are refused too, who have bad records.

@kyushubill,

You're missing my point. That you should respect the profession as sushi chef more because it requires hard training.

@toshiko: "It never said it could not care less of star system"

I never said it. smithinjapan said " I bet he would care a LOT" so, I said "I don't think he cares much" I think it's other posters not I that are degrading him.

-10 ( +0 / -10 )

Wipe out. My girlfriend and I are getting married and we found out that she can keep her own surname. Thanks for enlightening with us with this info, I will encourage my girlfriend to keep her surname so to save herself and our offspring from Japanese discrimination id it occurs

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No. smithinjapan said " he better start refusing Japanese customers who want to make reservations" , so, I said I'm sure some Japanese are refused too, who have bad records.

Yes I get it. But there is a difference between refusing a customer who happens to be Japanese rather than because they are Japanese, and applying hard or impossible-to-meet conditions on all foreign customers, and that simply because they are foreign.

It is obtuse in the extreme to pretend that those two actions are the same.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It is obtuse in the extreme to pretend that those two actions are the same.

I was not pretending.

simply because they are foreign.

Not because they're foreign, but it is high risk group. Mizutani's priority would be to solve his problem. He must have been suffering a lot from the group. If he did not have no-show, he wouldn't have to set up the rule.

applying hard or impossible-to-meet conditions on all foreign customers

The place is small, and not enough staff to handle a complicated rule, I guess.

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

To be honest, I'd rather be denied reservation to a place like this than being treated with disrespect by people who are prejudiced against "barbarian" foreigners who cancel reservations.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@A[political: time changed, We used to view foreigners are cute and more cultured. Best is to use restaurants withouy reservation,

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

@smithinjapan MAY. 02, 2015 - 03:09PM JST

When I gave that personal anecdote, I do not intend to make a value judgment, rather to show how in practice Anti-Discrimination laws are USELESS without accompanying (preceding actually) zeitgeist. Suffice it to say that the person (technically a civil servant) who told us about the complainer suggested our next move.

However, I must note that the "End of Discrimination" that you mention will be at the expense of my boss' right to hire those that please them. You seem to value individual rights very poorly.

@cleo MAY. 02, 2015 - 03:47PM JST

To be honest, I have no idea, since I have zero say in the decision. Though I suspect that many in my office, however, simply would feel more comfortable talking to a female OA. Such subjective factors DO cause subtle changes in work efficiency.

@smithinjapanMAY. 03, 2015 - 12:04AM JST

Ah, Smith, but I thought you were saying there shouldn't be discrimination, case closed. If so, there will be no need to mention Mo's Japanese ability ... etc.

The moment you mention other factors, you are arguing that he be given an exemption because of his factors. In other words, you are asking for a new layer of discriminations. It is actually kind of amusing how many people are utterly against Race and Sex discrimination, but OK with other types.

Across an entire lifetime, Race and Sex are the most insurmountable barrie@smithinjapan MAY. 02, 2015 - 03:09PM JST

When I gave that personal anecdote, I do not intend to make a value judgment, rather to show how in practice Anti-Discrimination laws are USELESS without accompanying (preceding actually) zeitgeist. Suffice it to say that the person (technically a civil servant) who told us about the complainer suggested our next move.

However, I must note that the "End of Discrimination" that you mention will be at the expense of my boss' right to hire those that please them. You seem to value individual rights very poorly.

@cleo MAY. 02, 2015 - 03:47PM JST

To be honest, I have no idea, since I have zero say in the decision. Though I suspect that many in my office, however, simply would feel more comfortable talking to a female OA. Such subjective factors DO cause subtle changes in work efficiency.

@smithinjapanMAY. 03, 2015 - 12:04AM JST

Ah, Smith, but I thought you were saying there shouldn't be discrimination, case closed. If so, there will be no need to mention Mo's Japanese ability ... etc.

The moment you mention other factors, you are arguing that he be given an exemption because of his factors. In other words, you are asking for a new layer of discriminations. It is actually kind of amusing how many people are utterly against Race and Sex discrimination, but OK with other types.

Across an entire lifetime, Race and Sex are the most insurmountable barrie@smithinjapan MAY. 02, 2015 - 03:09PM JST

When I gave that personal anecdote, I do not intend to make a value judgment, rather to show how in practice Anti-Discrimination laws are USELESS without accompanying (preceding actually) zeitgeist. Suffice it to say that the person (technically a civil servant) who told us about the complainer suggested our next move.

However, I must note that the "End of Discrimination" that you mention will be at the expense of my boss' right to hire those that please them. You seem to value individual rights very poorly.

@cleo MAY. 02, 2015 - 03:47PM JST

To be honest, I have no idea, since I have zero say in the decision. Though I suspect that many in my office, however, simply would feel more comfortable talking to a female OA. Speaking generally, such subjective factors DO cause subtle changes in work efficiency, and pretending these factors don't exist in the name of equality equates to giving up this efficiency.

@smithinjapanMAY. 03, 2015 - 12:04AM JST

Ah, Smith, but I thought you were saying there shouldn't be discrimination, case closed. If so, there will be no need to mention Mo's Japanese ability ... etc. They won't even be factors.

The moment you mention other factors, you are arguing that he be given an exemption because of his factors. In other words, you are asking for a new layer of discriminations. It is actually kind of amusing how many people are utterly against Race and Sex discrimination, but OK with other types.

Also, the practice of finding excuses to grant individual exceptions may not be racism, but it is favoritism.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The reviews popping up saying that the restaurant is racist are on the same pages as dozens from people from all over the world...how did they all eat there?

10 seats at a counter? Well, yes, if a party cancels it's a good portion of their business for that night. Two people out of dozens being turned down doesn't really bolster the discrimination claim , for example, on one site, 42 5-star reviews, 32 4-star reviews and 2 1-star reviews all from foreigners...

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

This thread is dying out, but I couldn't help but laugh at the irony of this:

tinawatanabeAPR. 29, 2015 - 06:49PM JST . When you criticize and act against somebody you have to be very careful because those actions might affect them greatly. I feel you and many others here have assumption that the Japanese people are basically wrong and stupid. Otherwise why can you say "wrong" to the Japanese all the time?

Says the lady that 1. repeats over and over how 'non-Japanese' are not reliable customers, 2. Constantly insults all 'non-Japanese'.

I would like to tell you that when you criticize and condone acting against us, our feeling are hurt, I feel like you assume we are all mannerless and do not know how superior Japanese chefs are to others. Otherwise, how can you say 'It is ok to refuse us service' all the time?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

justbcuisay

I said "When you criticize and act against somebody"

I do not act against anybody like sending complaint to Michelin just on one piece of article. I felt most of you are siding with foreigners, and not sympathizing the chef. I don't think no-show is the only problem he has had considering what I hear from sushi place I go to.

If people were more understanding to chef's predicament, like Himajin does before you, they might not have been sharply reacted.

-10 ( +0 / -10 )

@Himajin and @tinawatanabe:

I'd like to direct a couple of comments to both of you since you both have touched on points that I have tried to address a number of times.

Cancellations & Impact On Mizutani's Business: I have said repeatedly that I fully understand Mizutani's business issue/predicament. And am very sympathetic. I won't speak for everyone else, but I have said repeatedly that he likely does have a legitimate business issue (cancellations/no shows) that has decided to try to address in what I think is a misguided manner.

Discrimination & Racism: @Himajin, you have noted that a number of reviews were from foreigners and that this is evidence there is no discrimination. Two comments. First, please keep in mind that his reservation policy for foreigners is a new-ish policy, recently implemented, so many reviews may have been prior to the change. Second, its not that he bans foreigners at present. Foreigners can still make reservations if they are able to do so in accordance with the requirements set forth by the restaurant, so, of course, they can write reviews. It is just that the reservation methodology for foreigners is different from Japanese (well, those Japanese speakers with Japanese-sounding last names, I guess).

And this is the point. There does not have to be a ban in order for there to be discrimination. If he applies a different reservation requirement for foreigners than he does for Japanese, then this is a de facto discriminatory practice. And, it could effectively be a ban for foreigners living in Tokyo that do not have the proper kind of credit card. Whereas a Japanese person living in Tokyo without a proper kind of credit card has no issue. That is a discriminatory practice by definition and it discrimination based on race/nationality. It does NOT mean that Mizutani is a racist/bigot. I don't believe this has anything to do with racism, just business practices. And I have said this repeatedly.

Sympathy For Chef

@tinawatanabe, you keep mentioning that readers should have more sympathy for the chef's predicament and you allude to things other than just a no-show. OK, let's talk about sympathy for the chef's predicament. I have said repeatedly that I understand his situation. If you have a small restaurant and you have repeated cancellations, you lose money. I get that. I am a businessman. However, to then decide that since it happens most often with foreigners, you institute a reservation policy for foreigners that is different is not only discriminatory, it is unnecessary. And so 20th century. Look, many of us have said repeatedly that the easiest way to deal with this is for all guests (or all 1st time guests) to provide a credit card at the time of reservation and get hit with a cancellation charge if they are a no show).

And this is where I say, where is your sympathy for foreigners (or Japanese with foreign last name) that live in Tokyo and that can't meet the special rules Mizutani has set for them? I know, there are plenty of other places they can eat, but since Mizutani has such an obvious alternative way to deal with his business issue that is non-discriminatory, why shouldn't there be some sympathy for the very legitimate issues for resident foreigners.

Think about this. Bernard Delmas is the MD of Michelin for Japan. He lives in Tokyo. He probably has a premium credit card that had a concierge service attached to it. However, let's assume he didn't. He would not be able to directly make a reservation at Mizutani under his own name. That is just ludicrous.

Finally, @tinawatanabe, you seem to allude to potential other issues that Mizutani may have with foreign guests, besides no-shows. Look, if you are going to suggest that many foreigners may not fully understand sushi traditions and practices, may commit grave sins when eating sushi, or may not treat the sushi chef with the reverence he deserves because of his years of practice, then I would just say two things. First, that is just such a stereotype. There may be truth to it historically, but it is just such a stereotype. Second, and to that point, if this is his issue, then his policy does nothing to address that, because the foreigners most likely to match those stereotypes, the ones staying at hotels that can make reservations through the hotel. As opposed to the resident foreigners who are likely to be, on average, much more knowledgeable about sushi practices and etiquette in Japan.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I do not act against anybody like sending complaint to Michelin just on one piece of article. I felt most of you are siding with foreigners, and not sympathizing the chef. I don't think no-show is the only problem he has had considering what I hear from sushi place I go to.

No, I do not 'sympathise' with the chef. He doesn't need my sympathy. I am sure he is a lot richer than me and gets a lot more respect than me. When my customers cancel on me, even though I have to travel to go to them, do I get money? NOPE. Why? Because I was told the customer is god here in Japan. My customers are all Japanese by the way. My salary varies by a great deal due to cancellations each month. You have a great big double standard, you project a lot of (generalised) hate and insults to other countries people, while being unable to accept even a slight criticism of just a single member of your country.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Strange that there is no rule like back home.

Make a booking for 19:00 and it is valid for 20 minutes, don't show up or notify them about bring delayed by 19:20 and the reservation is void and the table is available again.

Easy to put such a rule on the menu etc and no racism, etc applies.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Zones2surf, I didn't say that there is no discrimination, I think it's overstating to say that foreigners can't eat there, that's all.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Himajin, OK, understood. It was what your comment seemed to imply, but, fair enough. For anyone reading the article, it was clear that foreigners weren't banned, just had to go through a special reservation process. Some seem to think that this is not a big deal and foreigners should just accept it or go somewhere else, while others seem to think that this makes Mizutani a racist. Both of which are incorrect, in my view. Anyway.....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@zones2surf

Why do you bring your imagination to "sushi traditions and practices, grave sins" when I mention other problems other than no-shows? People don't care how you eat your sushi, you can use knife & fork if you want.

The reason I mention sushi chef requires long practice is because somebody above said "sushi is merely rice and raw fish" or "Mo is more important person than sushi chef"

The other issues besides no-shows are things like coming very late, talking on the phone, etc. things maybe inevitable for busy tourists.

Yes I can be sympathetic for foreigners, but most posters are criticizing Mizutani (unfairely, I think) so defended him.

the easiest way to deal with this is for all guests (or all 1st time guests) to provide a credit card at the time of reservation and get hit with a cancellation charge if they are a no show).

Yes if he accepts credit cards but he doesn't, does he? They don't seem to speak English either.

If he applies a different reservation requirement for foreigners than he does for Japanese, then this is a de facto discriminatory practice.

zones, this kind of thing happens. when I was in US I think happened a lot. Anywhere you go, people tend to be less responsible when they go to other countries. In Mizutani case, if discriminatory practice saves his business and peace of mind, I accept. This is where we differ depend on where our feelings are. He can save his business, and foreigners don't get starved. If he doesn't use the practice, he may still have problems.

We don't know if foreign residents without credit cards don't have ways. His purpose is to solve no-show problem, not to discriminate. I don't know how desperate he is. If he had one more no-show and he screams, then he may not want an exception. We don't know.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

His purpose is to solve no-show problem, not to discriminate.

his solution is to discriminate. to those being discriminated against it doesn't matter what his purpose is.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@tinawatanabe:

Thanks for elaborating on what you meant by the "other issues". OK, good to know what you meant. That said, my point still stands. The foreigners likely to be guilty of these things are the tourists and they are the very group of foreigners that will have no issue with the requirements, as they will be staying in a hotel. As opposed to Tokyo residents who are foreigners.

As for you defending Mizutani when most posters were criticising him, unfairly in your view, I think this is where a nuanced defence is important. I have said repeatedly that I think Mizutani may have a legitimate business issue he is trying to solve. I have also said I don't think he is a racist or bigot or anything like that. However, it doesn't mean the way he is approaching it is the right way. He may think it is, but it doesn't mean it is. And to criticise it does not mean one is not sympathetic to his problems/challenge. It is just to say that how he has responded may leave a lot to be desired.

As for his accepting/not accepting credit cards, small businesses do things all of the time to adjust to business requirements. If he doesn't accept credit cards now, why not? How hard is it to begin to do so? And if people want to pay by credit card and there is a service charge from the credit card company, this can be charged to the customer too. Again, if you operate in the 21st century, this sort of thinking should just be automatic.

Finally, you make the point about people going to other countries being less responsible, etc. OK. But how does this policy change that? As the tourists can still make their reservation, just through their hotel. And I am assuming there is no credit card guarantee. Look, he could insist on a local address and a keitai number. And if the person reserving doesn't have that, then he can use his alternative reservation methodology.

In the end, places like restaurants, hotels, etc. that serve the general public have a duty to serve without discrimination. The burden is on them. The burden is not on the guests to jump through discriminatory hoops because that is more convenient for the operator of the business.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

10 seats at a counter? Well, yes, if a party cancels it's a good portion of their business for that night. Two people out of dozens being turned down doesn't really bolster the discrimination claim , for example, on one site, 42 5-star reviews, 32 4-star reviews and 2 1-star reviews all from foreigners...

If you're paying 8,000 yen per plate, what are the odds you're going to say you had bad food? It would make you look like a fool with your money. What your example ACTUALLY says is that out of the millions of tourists who have gone to Japan, only 76 people managed to get a reservation at this place either through their hotel or their credit card's concierge service. And no, if a party cancels it does not mean "a good portion of their business" is lost for the night unless this guy is SO exclusive that he only serves ten customers for the ENTIRE NIGHT.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The foreigners likely to be guilty of these things are the tourists and they are the very group of foreigners that will have no issue with the requirements

Yes, but with concierge service, some improvement.

I don't think he is a racist or bigot or anything like that. However, it doesn't mean the way he is approaching it is the right way.

Yes you said many times you don't think he is a racist, but what you did matters most. You sent or tried to send complaint to Michelin. You try to force Mizutani to give in believing you're right without knowing the whole picture.

If he doesn't accept credit cards now, why not?

Yes that may be the simplest way, but there are many shops that do not accept credit cards in Japan.

if you operate in the 21st century, this sort of thinking should just be automatic.

No, not automatic.

he could insist on a local address and a keitai number. And if the person reserving doesn't have that, then he can use his alternative reservation methodology

Yes you're right.

The burden is not on the guests to jump through discriminatory hoops because that is more convenient for the operator of the business

I don't know about this. I knew a tiny restaurant in Yurakucho, for which you needed an introduction from a customer or chef's permission to enter. It was so delicious that it was well worth the effort.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Yes, but with concierge service, some improvement.

Not sure I understand what you mean by this. Can you elaborate how there is some improvement?

You sent or tried to send complaint to Michelin. You try to force Mizutani to give in believing you're right without knowing the whole picture.

Two points here. First, yes, just because he isn't racist doesn't mean his actions aren't discriminatory and, thus, in the market, while he has the right to run his restaurant as he sees fit (as long as it conforms to the law), I have the right to express my views, including to Michelin. Particularly when he has the benefit of a rating from a rating group that many foreigners may trust. Second, I am not trying to make Mizutani give in and it is possible I don't know the full view. What I am trying to do is highlight this issue to Michelin. They then can decide what they want to do. Nothing more, nothing less.

Yes that may be the simplest way, but there are many shops that do not accept credit cards in Japan.

True. However, my guess is that there are very few Michelin-starred restaurants that don't accept credit cards. And it really is not that complicated. Yes, I get that this might require him to change his business practices, but don't we all have to do that as the world evolves?!

No, not automatic.

I said it "SHOULD be automatic." But clearly it is not. And I get it, he is an older sushi chef who has developed his business and a great reputation over the years, so I guess he is basically "analog" in a "digital" world.

I knew a tiny restaurant in Yurakucho, for which you needed an introduction from a customer or chef's permission to enter. It was so delicious that it was well worth the effort.

Fair point. I was not precise when I spoke of discriminatory hoops. I was referring to hoops that were discriminatory as it related to the guest's nationality (or gender or race, for that matter). I too have been to some excellent restaurants in Japan that are by referral only. So, yes, in that sense, the owners discriminate in terms of the customers they accept. However, the discrimination is not by nationality or gender or anything like that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Can you elaborate how there is some improvement?

It may be the same tourists, but would be informed by concierge.

What I am trying to do is highlight this issue to Michelin. They then can decide what they want to do. Nothing more, nothing less

The way the posters here are talking about is calling their friends to do the same (complaint to Michelin). If Michelin was deluged with complaints, it would be pressured to act. I think that is your intention.

I said it "SHOULD be automatic."

I don't see why it should be automatic. Food is not degital, so can be managed in analog.

So, yes, in that sense, the owners discriminate in terms of the customers they accept. However, the discrimination is not by nationality or gender or anything like that.

So, discriminates by money or customer connection are fine, but not by foreigners? but in Mizutani's case, the foreigners are the high risk group, so he asks concierge to inform them to protect his interest. I think it is acceptable level of treatment.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Leave tips well. Minimum 10 % of total bill. Instead of credit cards, pay with cash. Credit card crimes are increasing.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Just heard back from Michelin Japan (after Michelin USA forwarded me their email address). Here's their reply (including their contact email AND a copy of my original email, which you are welcome to copy and paste in order to send to them on your behalf).

Messages below:

Subject: Restaurant and Hotel Guides (Red Guide)

We thank you for interest in MICHELIN Guides. We are concerned about the remarks on this restaurant and we will check when the inspectors visit.

If you have further questions and suggestions, please feel free to contact us. Thank you for your understanding.

Best regards, MICHELIN Guide Japan e-mail: nmt.michelinguide@jp.michelin.com

件名: Racial discrimination at one of your awarded restaurants

Dear Michelin guide Japan,

I would like to request that a restaurant that has been awarded stars in your guide, to be stripped of them, due to racially discriminative practices. The restaurant in question is in Tokyo and bars all foreigners from making reservations, but not Japanese (even if the foreigners can speak perfect Japanese):

http://www.japantoday.com/smartphone/view/national/michelin-star-sushi-restaurant-in-tokyo-defends-foreigner-rules

Although restaurants in similar situations have enacted exclusivity as a method of selection, none have so far used race or ethnicity in order to do so. As an equal opportunities and upstanding organisation, I urge you to investigate this matter, and, if true, remove the establishments awards on these grounds.

Thank you for your time,

Yours faithfully

(insert name here)

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I would like to request that a restaurant that has been awarded stars in your guide, to be stripped of them, due to racially discriminative practices.

What an arrogant way to start a letter!

It is you that's doing racially discriminative practices. Mizutani simply asked concierge service to step in for high risk group to solve no-shows problem. You are demanding him not to treat the high risk group as high risk group because they are foreigners. You are demanding discriminative treatment for foreigners.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

What an arrogant way to start a letter!

No more arrogant than requiring foreigners to use a concierge or a hotel to make their reservation.

It is you that's doing racially discriminative practices.

No it's not. To be racially discriminative, he'd have to be discriminating between races. There is only an individual target here, so there is nothing to discriminate against.

You are demanding him not to treat the high risk group as high risk group because they are foreigners.

This is about the stupidest comment you've ever made here. He's demanding they not be discriminated against for being foreigners - to be treated equal.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

@tinawatanabe:

For me, this is simple. As a foreigner residing in Tokyo that is not staying in a hotel (and thus does not have access to a hotel concierge) and does not have a premium credit card, I can't make a reservation. However, my wife, as a Japanese, can. That is discrimination based on race/ethnicity. FACT. It cannot be denied. If you can't admit that, then we have a problem.

If you do admit that it is discrimination, but it is justified because foreigners are a "high risk group" and therefore there is a business rationale for this, OK. And, in Japan, it is legal, because there has not been codified any anti-discrimination laws related to race/ethnicity. There is a provision in the Constitution, which is why non-Japanese that have filed lawsuits over discrimination have won, but there is no criminal/civil code that explicitly prohibits such discrimination.

However, this makes Japan the exception in the G-7. And this is why so many react so strongly on this, particularly many that have lived in Japan for a while. Businesses that cater to the public in other G-7 countries may have the ability to discriminate on many basis (dress code, for example), but they cannot discriminate on the basis of race, gender, and similar protected class basis. No matter how compelling the business reason may be.

So, it may be that Mizutani feels that he has a legitimate business reason for doing this and that he doesn't consider it discrimination. But it is discrimination, no matter how many times you say he may have a valid reason. And, while it may be legal in Japan, it is not in other countries.

And, I believe, that would include France. Where Michelin is headquartered. So, I have absolutely no issue bringing this to Michelin's attention. If Mizutani has the right in Japan to engage in de facto discriminatory behaviour on the basis of race, no matter what the justification, I equally have the right to highlight this issue to an organisation that may have an issue with it, particularly since their name is associated with his establishment.

That is the way the world works. If you engage in behaviour that others disagree with, they have the right to respond, provided that they do so within the law. It isn't arrogant, it is just principled objection to others actions/behaviour.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Actually, check that, my wife can't make a reservation. Because even though she is Japanese, she has changed her name in Japan to my last name. So, unless she lies and uses her maiden name, which doesn't exist legally now, she is stuffed too. How screwed up is that?!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

zones2, If your family cannot dine there ( I don't know if it is the case), what is the problem? Some restaurants require referral, some charge too high price for most people to go, Mizutani requires credit card with concierge sevice and high price.

It's possible that Mizutani still has many foreigners with higher class foreigners than before thanks to the new rule.

We don't know in detail what happened with Mo in the article. Maybe he did not explain anything. We don't know there may be some exception to the rule, so I thought the way paul begins his letter is inappropriate.

And foreigners are not race category. Anybody becomes a foreigner if you go abroad.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

If you are a regular, it is easier to ask for reserve. If you never used the restaurant, yoi will be denied.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If your family cannot dine there ( I don't know if it is the case), what is the problem?

The problem is that the determination of who can or cannot go there is based on assumed ethnicity, based on name. As others have pointed out in this thread, some of our wives and children couldn't go there, as they have foreign sounding names. For that matter, Tina, with your name, you couldn't go there either.

If you are a regular, it is easier to ask for reserve

1) So?

2) How does one become a regular when they cannot go there in the first place?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@strangerlandL I was talking about reservation. You can get their service by going there without reservation, If you like their sushi and you go often, you become regular customer. Did you forgot this article was about reservation refusal against gaijin? Just line up with other customers and eat once in a week for a few weeks and you will become regular customer. /for tina: t watanabe will work. My daughter use one initial letter of first name and they use American last Name. I thought they were welcome because they use their fingers and use chopstick only eating Japanese tsukemono and that was why they were welcome but they may welcome loud American tall women for change. Both of them are 5'5;" and light brown haired.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

You can get their service by going there without reservation, If you like their sushi and you go often, you become regular customer.

Are you sure about that? The sushi shop I regularly go is by reservation only. They don't have walk-ins. Have you been to the shop in question? Did you line up?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We are talking about Mizutani. Not other Sushi joint, My daughters have to go Japan and China often. Both of them have no problem. I had no problem in Mizutani. We are pushy so everywhere, we get best service. Maybe people are scared of us like Restaurants in Vegas are scared of us?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The problem is that the determination of who can or cannot go there is based on assumed ethnicity, based on name.

How about getting a premium card?

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

We are talking about Mizutani.

So to be clear, you've walked-in at Mizutani without a reservation?

How about getting a premium card?

If Japanese people aren't required to do that, it's still discrimination.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Strangerland: Yes. /we also use cash and pay tips. We don;t believe in reservation. We love free timing of our activitird but sometime, we use reservaqtion system if we have all day long free time.

premium cards ...... I believe she meant Platinum cards.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan sucks. why would anyone want to spend time / money there. have fun in the radiation capital of the world. If you choose to waste you time in the land of the racist people that never abide by the conventions they sign.. then you deserve the crappy treatment you get. screw japan..... asia has much better locations to enjoy.

BOYCOTT JAPAN NOW

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

@Eric Kalmus:

That was a very helpful comment. Sheesh. Feel free to boycott Japan if you want to. I don't think Japan will notice. While I occasionally run into a few things here and there that annoy and bother me and that may be discriminatory and while I may try to work to change things where I can, I love the country and the people. And my wife and her family are most certainly not racist. Please take your broad-brushed bigotry elsewhere.

@tinawatanabe:

Yes, I could try to get a premium card. But why should I have to, particularly when they have annual fees that are hundreds of US$? Why should I have to do something that the Japanese don't? And why should my wife, who IS Japanese, have to, just because her last name is no longer "Japanese"? Look, it is discriminatory.

And I keep repeating. There are certain types of discriminatory practices that are acceptable. For example, requiring all 1st type guests to have a referral. Or that all 1st time guests provide a guarantee. Or that there is a dress code and if someone does not meet the dress code, they can't attend. These are all fine.

However, discriminating based on race/nationality is not acceptable. if you think it is, then we have a fundamental difference in views. Again, you are entitled to your view and I am entitled to mine.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Why should I have to do something that the Japanese don't?

The Japanese may have to do something too considering the number of people in Japan and the size of the shop. The credit card may work for the international people but not for the Japanese people. I don't think it's easy even for the Japanese.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

@tinawatanabe:

The point I keep making is that whatever the Japanese should have to do (or not do), the foreigners should have to do (or not do). It should be same.

So, if the shop says that a credit card guarantee is required and someone, regardless of nationality, doesn't have a credit card, then it doesn't matter if they are Japanese or non-Japanese, they won't be able to make a reservation. In other words, the requirement does not discriminate based on nationality.

Now, you may think that this would be unfair to Japanese that don't have a credit card and, yes, in that sense, it is true. But that is true of any hotel or airline that requires credit cards to make a reservation. The point is that the discrimination is not based on a person's nationality or gender but on a business requirement.

There are other alternatives. Perhaps all first time guests are required to provide a personal Japan phone number and address, with the restaurant reconfirming 24 hours in advance. This happens all of the time for many high end restaurants. This also deals with the Japanese language issue.

Anyway, it seems that this is something we probably just won't agree on. I sort of understand the point you are trying to make, but disagree with it and just don't believe race/ethnic/nationality based discrimination has any place in developed countries in the 21st century, as a general matter.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@zones

Mizutani is a famous chef in Japan, and also a world famous chef who used to be three stars now two. You can enjoy wonderful sushi with such excellent chefs, which you may remember for the rest of your life. He has right to run his business in his way. He seems to be accepting more foreigners than the other chefs, about half is foreigners.

-10 ( +0 / -10 )

Eating sushi with fingers work fine with American women, For foreigners, easier than struggling with chopsticks.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

According Ogasahara-ryu Manner text book, you only wet about 1/.3 inch of bottom of chopstick. In Vegas Japanese food restaurants and all you can eat buffets, we are careful as people who use chopsticlks often drop their food on floor.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@tinawatanabe

He seems to be accepting more foreigners than the other chefs, about half is foreigners.

So people should be happy because he is less racist than other chefs? Forgive me if I don't applaud him for that.

This restaurant is already getting terrible reviews due to this on various sites, including trip advisor. If a significant portion of his clientele are non-Japanese he is about to get the rudest of shocks...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Maybe a competitor created this fiasco?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This restaurant is already getting terrible reviews due to this on various sites, including trip advisor.

For actual incidents, or by people who read an article and were angered by it? I read nearly nothing but glowing reviews just a few days ago, from Japanese and foreigners alike.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Maybe a competitor created this fiasco?

The restaurant created it. A competitor may have brought it to light.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So people should be happy because he is less racist than other chefs?

No. the fact that half of his customers are foreigners is evidence that he is not racist or discriminating.

It seems that the no-show foreigners are very calm and say no sorry when being contacted by restaurants. They have no idea how much it costs the restaurants. I agree those foreigners need someone like concierge to explain.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

the fact that half of his customers are foreigners is evidence that he is not racist or discriminating.

Tina, he has separate rules for foreigners and Japanese people. That is literally the definition of discrimination. There is no leeway on that - he is discriminating. You can argue on whether or not he is justified in his discrimination, but if you try to argue that he is not discriminating, you need to look in a dictionary, as you obviously do not understand the word.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Tina, he has separate rules for foreigners and Japanese people.

Because he has separate results from foreigners and Japanese people.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

@tinal write what kind of separate results and you may convince other comments readers and me.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Because he has separate results from foreigners and Japanese people.

That's a justification for the discrimination. But it doesn't change the fact that he is discriminating.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Behavior determines the rules. How many tourists booked and didn't show up before the policy was instituted? A rude few always spoil it for people who'd never dream of not showing up. In Spain our group was not seated in the front, although there was space. Why? We don't seat Japanese groups near the front because they always fall asleep and it's rude to the dancers'. No amount of reassurance that we wouldn't doze off changed their minds. Gackt was recently told to sit in the back of a cafe in Paris because some Asian tourists arel loud. Once the reputation of dozing through performances/noisy during meals/ frequent no-shows has been established for a group due to the rude few, it's hard to reverse that impression, sad to say.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Strangerland, I guess you'd also complain against Japan requiring visas for some people but not for other people if Japan started requiring for Koreans.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Tina - how am I complaining by pointing out the fact that he is discriminating?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Strangerland, It is you who are discriminating your group in any subject if the group happened to include you. You are demanding Mizutani to ignore the bad behavior of no-show group, and let the group keep doing bad behavior because the group is your group.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I have quite dark skin if I get a tan and am often barred from various stores in Tokyo because they think I am Iranian. Even after I show them by way of my gaijin card that I am not some of them still refuse me entry. One day this will all improve just maybe not in our life times

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Strangerland, It is you who are discriminating your group in any subject if the group happened to include you. You are demanding Mizutani to ignore the bad behavior of no-show group, and let the group keep doing bad behavior because the group is your group.

Actually, I haven't demanded anything. I even understand his reasons behind his discrimination, although I don't agree with his response to these reasons.

I'm simply pointing out the fact that when you have one set of rules for one ethnicity, and another set of rules for another ethnicity, it is discrimination. There is no debate about that. There is no grey area. It's fact.

You keep trying to find ways to justify that fact, or to divert attention away from that fact, but no matter what you say, you can't change that fact. Because it's a fact.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@Strangerland

A exclusive restaurant trying to be more exclusive is not discrimination.

@michaelqtodd

I've never heard of any particular discrimination against Iranian in Japan. Most Japanese can not tell Iranians from other foreigners. I notice there are some famous successful Iranians in Japan.

@Himajin

I notice that too. The Japanese tourists are often sleeping in the famous theaters while the other tourists are wide awake and enjoying the performances.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Tina

Separate rules by ethnicity is discrimination, no matter how you try to whitewash it.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Strangerland, If you hadn't used the words "discrimination" or "whitewash" so often in every subject, you may have been more convincing.

If you think it's discrimination, fine. But you have no right to act like a judge and dictate the Japanese how to behave.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Strangerland, If you hadn't used the words "discrimination" or "whitewash" so often in every subject, you may have been more convincing.

Since you apparently don't know the meaning of the word discrimination, let's start by looking at it:

discrimination

treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit

Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/discrimination?r=75&src=ref&ch=dic

The owner of this restaurant is treating against foreigners based on their group (being foreign) rather than on the individual merit of the person making the reservation.

Read the definition, then read my italicized text below it. As you can see the owner is, by the definition of the word, discriminating. This is not an opinion, it is not changed by how someone feels on the matter, it's fact based on his actions.

As such, I have nothing to convince you of, and my usage of the word discrimination is 100% accurate, and my usage of the word 'whitewash' does not change the accuracy of the word discrimination by even a single percentage.

If you think it's discrimination, fine.

My thoughts, and anybody elses', are irrelevant, as it's a fact, not an opinion. It IS discrimination, as you can see by the very definition of the word.

But you have no right to act like a judge and dictate the Japanese how to behave.

I've simply pointed out that you are wrong every time that you claim it's not discrimination, when it very clearly is discrimination.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I've simply pointed out that you are wrong

You've been doing more than that. You are a supporter or one of people who sent email or letter requesting Mizutani's star be stripped. I think it's crossing the line. You have no right/ information enough to do that.

You don't have to go to his restaurant. Even if you want to, you can do so by acquiring a premium card or renting a hotel room. It's not a big deal. You don't even try to find if there is any other way, but jumped into the conclusion and on the bandwagon of let's criticize Mizutani and demand the star stripped!

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

You've been doing more than that. You are a supporter or one of people who sent email or letter requesting Mizutani's star be stripped.

Whether I am or not, does not change the fact that this guy is discriminating against customers by ethnicity.

As for the rest of the post, I think you must be reading someone else's posts. What you say does not reflect my actions or opinions.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

tinawatanabe

You've been doing more than that. You are a supporter or one of people who sent email or letter requesting Mizutani's star be stripped. I think it's crossing the line. You have no right/ information enough to do that.

Grow up. Anyone has a right to send an email.

It is Michelin who awards the stars, and it will be their decision on whether to keep giving them to Mizutani. But they are likely to look at his policy, and the public reaction to it, and decide whether it is appropriate. And the unpalatable (for you) truth is that, in this matter, the unfavourable reaction from non-Japanese who see it as undeniable discrimination is going to carry a lot more weight than Japanese apathy, or Japanese refusal to even consider the possibility that this is discrimination. Because it is discrimination.

If this restaurant becomes an inconvenience to Michelin, if it is the cause of embarrassment or public pressure on Michelin itself, at a certain point they will cut it loose without a second thought. Michelin is a brand, and their guides are a business. They like money. They will not make too many sacrifices on behalf of a single poxy restaurant.

The solution would be for Mizutani to abandon his policy in its current form. He'd keep his stars, stay in business - because he was never going out of business in the first place - and look like he's done the right thing. It's an easy win, if his ego can handle the idea of backing down.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Anyone has a right to send an email.

I said no right to demand star stripped.

Because it is discrimination.

Mizutani said it is not, and I believe him.

If this restaurant becomes an inconvenience to Michelin, if it is the cause of embarrassment or public pressure on Michelin itself, at a certain point they will cut it loose without a second thought. Michelin is a brand, and their guides are a business. They like money. They will not make too many sacrifices on behalf of a single poxy restaurant.

So you are forcing not only Mizutani but also Michelin to give in. Why do you have to take such an extreme measure? Why can't you respect Mizutani a little and ask him to ease his rule to make it more inclusive by sending him a letter or fax ( I don't know if he has email address) in Japanese (he does not speak English), but you go over his head to Michelin and demand his star stripped right off the bat?

I think what you are doing is retaliation judging from the way you guys are doing, but on the part of Mizutani he did not mean ill. I think you guys have hurt Mizutani's feeling alot. I think he would accept the star taken, and you'd be satisfied.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

it is discrimination.

Mizutani said it is not, and I believe him.

I've already shown how is actions clearly fit the very definition of discrimination. Since you seem to have forgotten, I'll post it here again:

discrimination

treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit

Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/discrimination?r=75&src=ref&ch=dic

The owner of this restaurant is treating against foreigners based on their group (being foreign) rather than on the individual merit of the person making the reservation.

Read the definition, then read my italicized text below it. As you can see the owner is, by the definition of the word, discriminating.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Read the definition

If things were so simple in life, you wouldn't need a court with a panel of judges.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

If things were so simple in life, you wouldn't need a court with a panel of judges.

In this case you wouldn't need a court with a panel of judges, as his behaviour is literally the definition of discrimination. There isn't any grey area in there, it's clearly discrimination. Even you haven't been able to show how it isn't discrimination, you are just trying to justify the discrimination

0 ( +2 / -2 )

You've been doing more than that. You are a supporter or one of people who sent email or letter requesting Mizutani's star be stripped. I think it's crossing the line. You have no right/ information enough to do that.

I have no right? That's well outside what could be considered your business. Michelin has a system for receiving comments from the public, so if I feel the need to communicate with them, that's what I'll do.

You don't have to go to his restaurant.

I don't have to go to any restaurant. I have a kitchen.

Even if you want to, you can do so by acquiring a premium card or renting a hotel room. It's not a big deal.

Who are you to say it isn't. I am not going to acquire a premium card for the sole purpose of being granted admission to a restaurant that, in any case, refuses credit card payment. I already have two perfectly good credit cards. Nor am I going to rent a hotel room. I live here. These rules are not appropriate for a restaurant - any restaurant - to impose.

This is the whole issue. The rules are bizarre, and they would be applied to me simply because I am not Japanese. It's discrimination, and it has brought Mizutani negative publicity. He's earned it. Don't blame me.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If Mizutani were lying that he has no-show so that he could discriminate foreigners, then I think it is discrimination and his star should be stripped. But discriminating is not his intention.

He is asking the high risk group to go through concierge service so that he can solve no-show problem. The high risk group happens to be the foreigners. If it were Japanese not foreigners who need concierge, I don't think the Japanese would complain.

wipeout: "The rules are bizarre, and they would be applied to me simply because I am not Japanese.It's discrimination"

But we don't know yet if it applied to you. And even if it applied to you, that does not make it automatically discrimination. If it has 3rd way to include you, then do you still call it discrimination?

People act bizarre to foreigners, it takes time to make a system satisfactory to everybody.

wipeout: " it has brought Mizutani negative publicity. He's earned it. Don't blame me."

I don't care and I don't blame you. I just keep saying that you guys are not careful, that is my point.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

discriminating is not his intention.

Intent is not a determining factor in discrimination. Whether he intends to discriminate or not, it doesn't change the fact that he is discriminating against foreigners.

If it were Japanese not foreigners who need concierge, I don't think the Japanese would complain.

Some would, some wouldn't. But regardless, whether or not someone complains does not change the fact that it is discrimination. Complaints are not a determining factor in discrimination.

wipeout: "The rules are bizarre, and they would be applied to me simply because I am not Japanese.It's discrimination"

that does not make it automatically discrimination.

The fact that the rules are based on ethnicity makes it discrimination.

I told my wife about this story the other day. Her comment reminded me of why I married her: "he should just make the same rule for everyone". I'm pretty sure I said much the same thing in my first comment on this story.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Strangerland: "he should just make the same rule for everyone"

The same rule would be better but obviously it was difficult for Mizutani. I met many different rule when I was in US just because I'm a foreigner. It is childish to demand everything has to have the same rule or everybody has to have the same treatment. Do you think as long as you pay the same money you deserve the same treatment? No, people like Mizutani who use his body and time and skill can choose his customers who deserve his effort. Money does not talk.

If you are sushi chef, who do you prefer, the people who appreciate and value your skill or who know nothing about sushi and often do no-show or come late?

Strangerland "Intent is not a determining factor in discrimination."

It is. Intent is a determining factor in all crimes and offenses. That is your and other people's problems in other issues too. You don't see people's intent and crticize the people who has no intention of what you are accusing of, and hurt the people. The important things are in what you can not see through your eyes, intent in this case.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

JT has screwed up something in their system, and now many posts show the whole post as a quote, even the unquoted parts. It used to be that putting a space between lines stopped this, but no longer. For anyone else facing the same issue, you need to start your post with a non-quote (like I am doing right here).

I met many different rule when I was in US just because I'm a foreigner.

Such as?

It is childish to demand everything has to have the same rule or everybody has to have the same treatment.

It is not childish to expect to not be racially discriminated against.

Do you think as long as you pay the same money you deserve the same treatment?

I think that people deserve to be treated based on their actions, not based on their ethnicity.

It is. Intent is a determining factor in all crimes and offenses.

Sigh. Since you've once again forgotten the definition of discrimination, I will post it here for you again:

discrimination

treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit

Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/discrimination?r=75&src=ref&ch=dic

As you can plainly see from the definition, intent plays no part in it. Discrimination is based on actions, not intent.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@tinawatanabe

But we don't know yet if it applied to you. And even if it applied to you, that does not make it automatically discrimination.

If the rule is applied on the basis of me being non-Japanese, then yes it does. Automatically.

If it has 3rd way to include you, then do you still call it discrimination?

If the rule is applied on the basis of people being non-Japanese, then yes, obviously.

It's hard to believe that after all this time, you're still feigning not to understand a word that is well defined in dictionaries and in laws. It's been gone over repeatedly in this thread, so unless you have an alternative definition - for which I'm going to insist on a source, naturally - you haven't got anywhere with one single instance of your "it's not discrimination" assertions.

I just keep saying that you guys are not careful, that is my point.

And that's a piss-weak point.

But more importantly, just as you've offered nothing in the way of an official definition of discrimination that would support your arguments, you've offered nothing that suggests this restaurant has been incorrectly accused. The restaurant's rules and its treatment of Mo Bangfu have been reported in Japanese media, and the story was picked up in foreign media. The restaurant is quoted as admitting to treating non-Japanese differently for reservations. It has not denied it, which makes your job considerably harder: basically impossible.

Unless you have something specific to offer that helps to overturn those claims, your arguments are hopeless. They will remain so unless you can:

1) Find a definition of discrimination (a real one, I don't just mean the same old crap you cooked up in your head) that supports your arguments. 2) Find information that indicates Mizutani does not have a rule that is specifically applied to non-Japanese customers.

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