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A karaoke establishment in Osaka welcomes foreigners.

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How about just "Welcome"

31 ( +36 / -5 )

I give them a thumbs up for trying to appeal to foreigners / tourists. They obviously want to be a welcoming establishment for foreign patrons. But, yeah, just leave the word "Foreigner" out. Using English is enough.

14 ( +18 / -4 )

a lot of the comments seem like an overreaction to me. this place is just trying to be friendly. lets save our outrage for racial profiling by police and housing discrimination. when we freak out about silly things like this people will stop paying attention to the real problems we face here.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

What they are trying to say probably is we have an English catalog/menu

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Wow, the race card factory must be low on stock after this thread.

I judge based on intent. And this appears to be done with good, if slightly misguided, intentions.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

I think this reflects on Japan in so many levels, from the lack of knowledge of what culture is to to the xenophobia (at least it seems mostly phobia rather than hate).

8 ( +14 / -6 )

I could know Japanese more than you, and have been born here.

If so, then the sign obviously wasn't intended for you, ne?

Cortes Elijah is the exception but as for the rest of us, we are gaikokujin. "Overseas people". I can't really get upset over so generic a description or its abbreviated form "gaijin".

Karaoke is a PART of Japanese culture but certainly not enough of a major portion of it to claim that it IS "Japanese Culture".

This would be less of an issue with just a "Welcome!" sign instead of one specifically targeting foreigners. The fact that it was in English should be enough to draw foreigners' attention. Considering I know just enough Japanese to cause alarm at the mangling, though, I'm not going to judge the owner as being racist from one sign in a language that is not his native language.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

For crying out loud, whoever wrote the sign tried their best. Expecting them to understand nuances of a word in a second language is ridiculous - especially when we don't even have agreement among us "foreigners" as to whether the word is offensive. I personally don't mind it at all, unless the tone in which it's used is offensive. There is an enormous difference between "no foreigners" and "welcome foreigners".

8 ( +12 / -4 )

I wouldn't mind it. Or laowei or weiguoren in China.

It's the tone that counts. This looks OK.

7 ( +21 / -14 )

We are not freaking "gaijin" or "foreigners" I hate seeing this label.

Good grief. Grow a thicker skin. You are a visibly identifiable minority living in a country where 97% of the people look the same. You are a foreigner. In Japanese, a gaijin. Why deny reality?

You cannot just judge because I am white. I could know Japanese more than you, and have been born here.

There is no judgement implicit in the use of the term "foreigner". None. And your comment here is evidence enough that you were not "born in Japan".

They need to accommodate for all races and stop being so RACIST.

They are "accommodating all races". This sign, printed in English and specifically welcoming people of all races is evidence of such. Your claim to the contrary is amusing.

7 ( +20 / -13 )

Perhaps they meant that "I Want to Know What Love Is" is available to be sung there.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Hidingout... took the words from my mouth. Wow there are some sensitive people here. Cant handle being called a foreigner? Perhaps your home country is a better place for you.

I would MUCH rather be called a foreigner than a tourist.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

I think some of you commenters are missing the forest for the trees here.

This establishment is trying to welcome everyone in. It's a nice gesture. Look at their intent.

You can question how they went about doing this and the specific words chosen, but this is a business that is trying to cater to everyone. Please respect that.

Heck, if you think it should be worded better, why stamp your feet and scream "discrimination!!!" when you could do something positive like make a suggestion to them as to how they could improve the signage?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Frankly Karaoke is just not my thing. I'm not offended by the sign at all. Too many sensitive types need to stop being such complainers and realize that if you are not born in Japan you are indeed a foreigner. The only place that foreigner is a negative term is in the minds of those that are easily offended.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Filipinos are the real Karaoke kings/queens...lol

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Haha lots of people reading way way WAY too much into this one!!! For christs sake people!

A lot of posters are assuming the writer of the sign has an excellent knowledge of English, when clearly they are a bit rusty, BUT at least they are welcoming, something to be glad about!

People need to understand the meaning of context more, words like foreigner, tourist, gaijin etc .............it all comes down to context, sometimes I HATE the word gaijin, sometimes I call myself gaijin!! depends on context folks, those ragging need to take a couple a chill pills!!

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Knowing that a number of establishments reluctantly accept visible minorities (and rarely refuse them), this is a welcome sign. The owners are probably not aware that such wording sounds strange or even discriminatory in English (especially knowing that refusing a "foreigner" in a private establishment is anyway illegal in many countries), but I don't see any malice in it. However, I would recommend the owner to rewrite the sign as "Tourists welcome" or "Experience Japanese Karaoke, travelers welcome", etc.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

smithinjapan

I didn't know Karaoke is popular around the globe, so this shop probably didn't know either.

people should always make sure something is accurately saying what they want it to when using another language

I think that's exactly what they did. I see many English signs in Japan, and they are often strange. You don't know how difficult English is to Japanese.

what the response would be for a Japanese overseas seeing it written that way in Japanese

If they saw a Japanese sign, for instance in NY, "Jazz is American culture, welcome Japanese", then they would be touched, and pulled in like cockroaches into a roach house trap.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

How about: "Everyone Welcome.....Even for those Foreigners who can't sing!"

3 ( +4 / -1 )

OOOOOHHH we don't want anyone to be offended. Can't believe the number of supposedly "worldly savvy" posters that think every country should have the same values and morality as the country they are from.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

What's wrong with Foreigners? That's what we are.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Here is an idea!!! Just say "Welcome, ENGLISH friendly"

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Mos people in here seems they don't even care about language and translation stuff.

Just think about this... in Japanese the world "tourists" is translated as "kankouryokousha" or "ryokousha". But, if you understand this, "ryokousha" includes Japanese as well as foreigners.

Now, if you don't have much knowledge of English (or any other languages) but you still want to make an appeal to foreigners, the temptation of using "foreigner" to make an appeal is understandable.

Yes, it may have being better if they asked for someone that knows a fair amount of English to make the sign would have been better, may be they didn't know anyone. They also could have used "google translate" or any other online "translator" service.... witch I am think was the case... and that is the result (translations programs can only be that good).

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I think that their heart was in the right spot. I'm not upset at all by the sign. Could it could have been better? Yes. When I see stuff like this I politely tell the staff that to English speakers it seems a little rude. Then I suggest something that is not so offensive. Generally what happens is they take the sign down, and put nothing in it's place. So we have a bit of a dilemma. At least with a rude sign you know you are welcome. Also you know that they most likely have some staff that speaks a little English and if you are lucky, some menus in bad English. Being call a gaijin doesn't bother me. I grew up in west Texas, there it was gringo. They both mean the same thing, an outsider. You can tell when the person means it in a rude way. Guys, when in Rome do as the Romans. When in Japan do your best not to be too upset because I can tell you that foreigners do a lot more things that are considered rude here in Japan than rude things that foreigners experience while they are in Japan. Think about the people who live or work in the tourist areas, they see it every day. So do as they do, take it with a grain of salt. Blow it off. Forget about it. Let it go. Can't we all just be friends.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

There is a similar sign in Ginza at a pachinko place.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I'm usually bothered by most uses of the word foreigner too, but in this case I'd much rather blame society as a whole than this particular karaoke joint. Instead, I'll give them small kudos for making the effort (keeping in mind they're just trying to bring in more business, not spread world peace).

2 ( +6 / -4 )

"Welcome Foreigner." Oxymoron of the day.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

'Try to put a Japanese sign in your home country at the entrance of a shop and try to be 100% correct with it! Not as easy as it seems. Same goes for Japanese people and English language.'

If you were putting a sign up in a language not your own, you wouldn't ask a native speaker of that language to check it? Any sensible shop owner in any country would make sure the sign was written correctly no matter what language was being used. I'm sure the owner could have found a native-English speaker in city the size of Osaka to check it.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Maybe the owner relied on google translate.

translate.google.com, Japanese to English, for 外人 (gaijin) gives:

Gaijin

and in subtext below main translation box gives:

Translations of 外人

foreigner 外人, 外国人, 異邦人, 他国人, 異人, 毛唐

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@noypikantoku

Understood. I'm just saying my Philippine friends like it here. I've yet to hear them complain about discrimination. (but sometimes they get preferential treatment because they're well liked by the community :-) )

2 ( +3 / -1 )

If you were putting a sign up in a language not your own, you wouldn't ask a native speaker of that language to check it?

I would, and it sounds like you would, but considering the amount of strange Japanese I've seen when traveling overseas, it's pretty clear that many people don't.

Any sensible shop owner in any country would make sure the sign was written correctly no matter what language was being used.

There are lots of people who aren't so sensible out there in the world.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Perhaps Japan should introduce an established symbol for foreigners which shops could use before the Olympics. It could help prevent people having headaches when trying to write intelligible English and foster greater tolerance and understanding. A side view of a man with a blond afro and a huge nose with a thumbs up symbol next to it should do the job.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Business must be real slow.....it would be funny to see the place flooded with hundreds of foreigners from all over the world though, and see if they change the sign or not......

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Some people are not only overreacting, they're being ethnocentric here.

This is Japan folks, and it takes more to be a Japanese than just speaking Japanese or just being born here. And it is cultural, not racial.

Obviously this establishment is just making an effort at being friendly the best way they knew how to. While you would like them to become a bit more aware of international sensitivities, you cannot expect it. Look at it this way: I've spent 10 years in the Midwest and have seen quite a few local employees from big companies sent to "cultural diversity awareness" class too.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

I don't find the sign offensive, they are just promoting Karaoke to foreign tourists, as many Japanese people think that you can find Karaoke only in Japan. it's just many Japanese people don't really have an idea about how the world outside Japan is like, what they see in travel catalogues and variety shows are their image of the world outside and not all Japanese people do travelling abroad, they don't mean to be racist or anything. I was asked several times before by Japanese friends if we have karaoke in the Philippines, And they were surprised to know when I tell them that many filipinos are willing to kill just to get the microphone and get a top score from their favorite songs. lol

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Ah, yes! Us and them! Welcome to Japan folks!

1 ( +6 / -5 )

'Jimizo and Zorken

Google "変な日本語 海外" and click on images.

Listen folks. This is universal.'

I didn't say it wasn't. If I wanted a sign, a menu or anything similar written in Japanese, I'd have it checked by a native speaker of that language. Where did I state otherwise?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Sign just need say "We Provide Service in English"

1 ( +2 / -1 )

In my almost 12 years in this country I could swear general English ability has gotten worse. Lately I keep stumbling upon many examples far worse than in this picture. Often times it's an absolute butchering of extremely simple English that really makes me wonder where all the taxes earmarked for English education really went.

To repeat what others said: kudos for having a go, but why on earth don't people trying to write signs and information in English here get what they've written checked first? Asking an EFL based internet forum to see what others think of your composition is one such suggestion I've given to people.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I read the sign and the comments and realize: Japan Can't Win.

Sign 1 - "Welcome": 'Well, it is in English, but it can't mean me. Japanese don't really like foreigners, which I am. I'd assume the English is because Japanese think English is cool so they must have some ... what a bunch of racists Japanese are...'

Sign 2 - "Welcome, tourist": 'Tourist ... still doesn't mean me. Guy from another prefecture is also a tourist. They must be referring to those. What a bunch of racists Japanese are...'

Sign 3 - "... Welcome, Foreigner": 'OK, I know they are categorically welcoming me, but I still don't like how they are singling me out. Besides, I don't like how they assume I can't read Japanese - there's a 1% chance I can, you know! What a bunch of racists Japanese are ...'

1 ( +4 / -3 )

therougou

If all non-Japanese speak Japanese the way people speak English in USA, this shop didn't have to do this.

Japan needs to learn that the first step in being welcoming is not segregating the locals and everyone else.

That's what this shop is trying to do by this. At least, its grammar and spelling are correct. Quite accomplishment to them. I can tell they would spend a few days (if not weeks) to come up with this sentence after asking some Japanese "English expert" for advice, then proudly put up this sign hoping it'll make this shop look cool and attract both Japanese and non-Japanese.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@therougou

the proper thing to write: "English OK", why not be more specific?

How would they know "English OK" is more specific? Do you know Japanese language is not specific? Japanese people are not specific in general? Very vague? The languages affect people's personalities more than you realize.

"Cool Japan" task team member is going around wreaking havoc on us?

How would they know? "Cool" is a word from Japanese people's limited English vocabulary.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If they are prejudiced against foreigners, they wouldn't have put up this kind of sign in ENGLISH anyway. The fact that this is written in English means the shop wants more foreigners than local people. I agree it is not advisable for them to use the word "foreign". It is just because they don't know how to express themselves appropriately. This also relates to Japanese educational system. I would not blame either of those who are pros and cons about the sign posted.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

therougou, I'm always fascinated by simplicity of English sign. But if you put it in Japanese, it may not work. "English OK" sign in Japanese may sound cold and blunt. The shop thought Karaoke was Japan's culture and that mentioning the fact would attract non-native who want to experience Japan thing.

This also relates to Japanese educational system.

Tak Alfred Oishi, Exactly. In Japan's education, there is no writing classes at least with some exception. Whereas in USA it seems to me writing is regarded as the center of education.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This would be offensive:

"Foreigners NOT welcome"

The sign "foreigners welcome" is NOT offensive, to me anyway.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Face it, if your not from Japan, your a foreigner. If your Japanese in Hawaii, your a foreigner.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Aw C'mon! This is just an example of Engrish, at worst. If you take it literally, it makes perfect sense. And "foreigner" isn't an offensive epithet by itself, last time I checked.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Although I feel no insult is intended and people are being too touchy about it, maybe "welcome all" would be best!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Foreigners is foreigners, in fact foreigners will never become a Japanese.

Actually they can - its called naturalization. What you mean is they can't be Japanese in the eyes of other Japanese though.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What you mean is they can't be Japanese in the eyes of other Japanese though.

Or anyone else really - try passing a Japanese passport as a white person and see how they stare.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan please stop using "foreigners" or "gaijins". We feel we're all discriminated with racism.

I fully agree. How about "Tourists are welcome"

0 ( +18 / -18 )

I feel even more unwelcomed, actually.

0 ( +12 / -12 )

Karaoke seems to be now an international culture but it was Japanese one.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

hidingout, you really have been hiding out. Try walking up to a black bloke in London and telling him he's a foreigner. Try writing "fish and chips is English culture, foreigners welcome" on a fish and chip shop in Birmingham. Try writing "hamburger is American culture, foreigners welcome" on a Mac in NYC. I'm sure the sign is supposed to be welcoming but has been written by someone ignorant of what this means. This is Japan in a nutshell. People here are too unaware of the rest of the world to know they are causing offence, or in many cases amusement.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If I translate this literally into Japanese, it's perfectly natural, very welcoming. But in English it sounds strange yes. I have seen many strange Japanese signages in other countries too.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

What's wrong with Foreigners? That's what we are.

Who are these "we" you speak of? You're falling into the mind-pit this kind of sign foments. Too much of this bs happens in Japan, and the defenders of this collective cultural idiocy are just either reactionary exiles from the West living in a Japan they have frozen in time or have a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome. My family may not look Japanese, but we sure as heck are.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

"Here is an idea!!! Just say "Welcome, ENGLISH friendly"

Hee hee, that's corny!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I've been in a couple and the counter assistants never batted an eye lid, just said "please enjoy" to me.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

kudos for having a go

But should we really be saying that to the largest Karaoke chain in Japan? I don't know if this banner was approved by the head office, but if they wanted to target non-Japanese people, surely they could have a better go at it.

I'm not exactly offended by this because I'm already used to getting called a foreigner every day, and having colleagues and relatives constantly forget if I'm American or Canadian (probably because they only think in terms of "gaijin"), but its still tasteless enough for me to want to avoid going there.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

...Any way... some people in here have a VERY sensitive tush....

0 ( +3 / -3 )

This is the problem when you use an innocent word and then use it as a derogatory term.

Some people don't mean it as a negative term, while other do. It's context and situation dependent.

Honestly, it just a poor choice of word(s). But in all serious this not so bad. Grow the hell up, people. Get angry when it's actually meant to be an insult.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I showed this to some people who are not familiar with Japanese english. They though it was just some random slogans, affirming Karaoke power and admonishing Japanese to be nicer to foreigners.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

smithinjapan Maybe Japanese don't go Karaoke when travel overseas.

Japanese can be just as difficult for non-native Japanese speakers as English is for Japanese.

Not that simple. From vague language to precise lanuguage is harder to learn.

"Welcome Gaijin" would be less welcoming than "Welcom Japanese", but better than nothing to Japanese, really. Japanese don't care those things.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Darn! You have figured out the grand conspiracy behind the sign, nigelboy! Better write it up on 2-channel! And don't forget to mention that ever-pesky Japanese man in Hokkaido! haha.

Smith. What is with you, the activist, and his followers fascination with 2-channel?

Let's face it. Foreign 'tourists' aren't going to be offended by this. If 'Foreigners' in Japan still can't able to figure out the reality of 'Japanese English' and it's harmless intent but rather assumes that it's meant to be offensive, let them continue to keep whining.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

How would they know "English OK" is more specific? Do you know Japanese language is not specific? Japanese people are not specific in general? Very vague? The languages affect people's personalities more than you realize.

OK then, how would they write it in Japanese though? The Japanese people I spoke with didn't notice anything strange but when I asked them how they would write it in Japanese, they said it would sound weird. So its a matter of actually thinking vs putting together some random English words that you know.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What a joke... there has been singing at Pubs in the UK and Europe for hundreds of years... but when Japan invents a machine that plays the background music an puts the lyrics on paper and screens.... all of a sudden it is "Japanese Culture". The word "Karaoke" alone was taken from English. Sure... I'll agree... Japan can lay claim to Karaoke... no doubt about that... but to culturalize it as Japanese after just 35 years... that might be overstepping the world Culture.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Photographer has it up on his show's FB page, 138 comments.

Kamasami Kong: "What's all the fuss? Let's go sing, drink, have fun!"

https://www.facebook.com/JapanToday/photos/a.264156846944983.77222.206382352722433/910696805624314/?type=1&theater

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That sign... more than anything says "Business is Real Bad" so we'll even welcome foreigners.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The sign is a little blunt, that’s all. They mean well. The best way would be to simply say “Everyone welcome” in English, but maybe that opens things up further than they want!

It’s a little sad that Japan has this reputation of xenophobia. I’ve experienced it personally and it’s not nice. In my home country (UK) a business would face stiff penalties for turning away ‘foreigners’ or discriminating in any way on that basis. Good to see attitudes change, little by little.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Foreigners is foreigners, in fact foreigners will never become a Japanese."

This is where you are wrong and is part of why Japan has this problem. 'Japanese' is a nationality, not a race, despite what many Japanese people think. Anyone who possesses a Japanese passport is Japanese, regardless of where they are born. The idea that you can only be born Japanese is inherently xenophobic.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Saying "foreigner" has the same negative connotation as saying "outsider". They would've been fine with just "Welcome!" on their sign.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

ReformedBasher - relax I am not complaining or offended by the sign... what I am saying is Karaoke is also a big part of Philippine culture and so as Korea, Taiwan, China, etc... many nations can claim that Karaoke is part of their cultures, I am not trying to make a point or whatsoever, just sharing.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Try to put a Japanese sign in your home country at the entrance of a shop and try to be 100% correct with it! Not as easy as it seems. Same goes for Japanese people and English language.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

@Zorken I'm very interested in why you were thumbed down too. I had no idea that having signs proofread by a native speaker of that language for mistakes or nuance was such a bad idea. I am sometimes asked by non-native speakers in my department about the English used in our advertising, instruction manuals and even their presentations and e-mails. Maybe I should tell them all to stop wasting my time. I never knew.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Cortes Elijah. Well said.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@Kazuaki: sure they can!

"Japanese/English language available!"

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I'm not bothered by this, but it is a reminder that translation should be left to professionals if used in a business. I think that to be ready for the Olympics it would be great if the government found a way to include some foreign-born permanent or long term/short term foreign residents in the preparation. I am sure many people would love to volunteer a little time, or better yet ask city ALT's that are already on the government payroll and often have a lot of office time where they have no tasks to perform.

@Kazuaki Shimazaki - many people had positive or kind things to say. relax

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

smith

What are you talking about? The guy is Japanese, so his interaction with anyone is interaction with at least one Japanese person.

Japanese? He lives out of the country and has for years. He's dissatisfied with his life choices and wants to make sure everyone else becomes a whinger as well.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@tinawatanabe

If all non-Japanese speak Japanese the way people speak English in USA, this shop didn't have to do this

Which again leads to the proper thing to write: "English OK", etc. They are assuming the foreigner knows English anyway, so why not be more specific?

then proudly put up this sign hoping it'll make this shop look cool and attract both Japanese and non-Japanese.

The thing about attracting Japanese is a good point. It might do better to attract Japanese since they'll think its cool and "international". Maybe this is their plan?

Perhaps this isn't the fault of Big Echo employees, but some "Cool Japan" task team member is going around wreaking havoc on us?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Gee whiz, 90+ comments about something not that important and certainly not on a news forum, JT you can do better than that, yes!

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I'm always fascinated by simplicity of English sign. But if you put it in Japanese, it may not work. "English OK" sign in Japanese may sound cold and blunt.

"English OK" might make sense, but it still sounds cold and blunt in English too.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

From the posts on the facebook page, it seems some people now have the wrong idea that other Karaoke establishments don't accept foreigners. So in that sense maybe the sign is working...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

We are not freaking "gaijin" or "foreigners" I hate seeing this label. You don't know me! You cannot just judge because I am white. I could know Japanese more than you, and have been born here. Japan needs to wake up to the 21st Century already. Japanese Japan is long gone, and now different nationalities are living in Japan. They need to accommodate for all races and stop being so RACIST.

Would be nice if the sign just said "Welcome! Come in for karaoke!".

-2 ( +18 / -20 )

Just say "Welcome, ENGLISH friendly"

yes, but they want to include Karaoke is Japan's culture so they thought they could attract more foreigners.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Any sensible shop owner in any country would make sure the sign was written correctly no matter what language was being used.

I'm not sure why you were downvoted so much for this. I don't think the sign is offensive, but it's not appropriate language for a business. I'd brush it off from a random on the street, but if they want customers then I think putting in a little effort is surely to be expected. You don't see many businesses touting for custom in such coarse language in Japanese. Actually I think this might say more about the myth that English is a 'direct language' where you can just say whatever you want.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Funny, I actually took the exact same picture in the same spot last month. I beat you to it, JT! I guess we both found it interesting.

@Daniel

Just think about this... in Japanese the world "tourists" is translated as "kankouryokousha" or "ryokousha". But, if you understand this, "ryokousha" includes Japanese as well as foreigners.

I always thought tourist was translated as "kankoukyaku", but what do I know?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

tinawatanabe: "yes, but they want to include Karaoke is Japan's culture so they thought they could attract more foreigners."

One point of order here, karaoke is not 'Japanese culture', it's a cultural phenomenon the world over. It was invented in Japan, yes, and certainly most people here do it at some time or another if not on a regular basis, but it would be like saying the automobile is American culture, or the television British culture. While some elements differ from nation to nation (mostly in terms of songs available, but also 'box' vs. 'open mic-like style'), none are unique to one or any other that I know of.

"I have seen many strange Japanese signages in other countries too."

Yeah, and people should always make sure something is accurately saying what they want it to when using another language, but that should not be the issue here. An interesting thing, though, about the whole 'use of Japanese elsewhere'. English is the universal language, so this should ideally be a message to ALL foreigners, unless they want to print a sign in all languages. But if there are signs in Japanese in other nations (as is the case here or there, like in old 'Saigon' in Ho Chi Minh City, or in Thailand with the special street for Japanese businessmen, etc.), they are only appealing to Japanese. Why I say it's interesting is that any such sign in Japanese would probably say 'Nihon-jin welcome' in Japanese, not 'Gaijin welcome', and I'm curious what the response would be for a Japanese overseas seeing it written that way in Japanese. I know that I've travelled with Japanese in other countries and heard them call the locals 'gaijin', or heard tales of their trips here in Japan where they did the same. Just curious.

Like I said, though, for me and many others I don't think it's the word 'foreigner' that's the problem at all, but the fact that the sign exists. Why is it necessary except to single people out? Saying "Foreigners welcome" or what have you automatically distances non-foreigners from them and says, "This is our land, this is our culture". Anyone truly welcoming would not need such signs to try and reinforce it, they would just be open. The "English friendly" suggestion one poster made above (inakaRob?) would definitely help in places where interaction is a must, but beyond that it's unnecessary.

nigelboy: "Better yet, perhaps the manager did in fact ask the native English speaker to translate but the said individual decided to translate in an awkward way so that the aforementioned 'follower' gets offended so they don't enter the store."

Darn! You have figured out the grand conspiracy behind the sign, nigelboy! Better write it up on 2-channel! And don't forget to mention that ever-pesky Japanese man in Hokkaido! haha.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

f they are prejudiced against foreigners, they wouldn't have put up this kind of sign in ENGLISH anyway.

Well, by definition prejudice doesn't necessarily mean having a bad opinion about something, although it is mostly used that way. So the act of grouping all foreigners together whether good or bad, is in fact prejudiced.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Anyone who is offended by this sign needs to take the ice bucket challenge with a few bricks in it. All the websites that are created/translated to assist non-Japanese use the word 'foreigner'. I have never seen nor heard any outbursts about this.

If a 'foreigner' passed a group of 'foreigners' who were doing something out of the ordinary, and he/she was relating it to another 'foreigner', they would use the term 'foreigners'. Not tourist, non-Japanese, etc, but foreigners (hypocrites).

As we all know. non-Japanese are not usually welcomed at some establishments. The proprietors merely went out of their way to tell you they are different, and you should not hesitate to enter and share in another part of their culture. Sure they never dreamt of this reaction.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Foreigners is foreigners, in fact foreigners will never become a Japanese.

Westerners always use of "Asian", because Westerners are thinking Asians are arr look same, your genes and identity are not important, you should follow the bias of western-style when in western countries.

In the same way, it's most important for us what you are Japanese or not. Foreigners just assert one's rights but they can never think putting themselves in others' shoes, like monster complainers.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Hey, where's the comma after "Welcome"? ha ha

Hey, better "Foreigner" than "Alien," which is written on my gaijin card, ha ha

Just imagine the sign on MacDonald's, KFC,..... etc. in Tokyo: "... are American culture! Welcome Japanese."

oR, in nyc: "... are American culture! Welcome foreigner."

Heck, most of the people in NYC ARE foreigners, ha ha

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

btw they have the same sign over another entrance as well. Underneath is says: "Karaoke is the culture of Japan. Karaoke Big Echo is the place where you can sign songs with your friends and eat delicious food and drinks. How about have a happy time during the Big Echo? We will provide the hightest quality service for you. We are looking forward for your patronage!."

("hightest" is not my typo but how they wrote it). I hope their high quality service includes someone that can speak a bit of English...

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@ADK99

For crying out loud, whoever wrote the sign tried their best. Expecting them to understand nuances of a word in a second language is ridiculous

So how would they have written it in Japanese? I can't imagine how it would be any more pleasant.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

"Welcome Gaijin" would be less welcoming than "Welcom Japanese", but better than nothing to Japanese, really. Japanese don't care those things.

Except that Japanese call others Gaijin even when they aren't in Japan, so they would probably be confused, no? But we wouldn't see this type of sign, anyway, because its already assumed that "foreigners" are welcome everywhere. Which is basically the problem with this sign, other than the horrible Engrish. Japan needs to learn that the first step in being welcoming is not segregating the locals and everyone else.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I think this reflects on Japan in so many levels, from the lack of knowledge of what culture is to to the xenophobia (at least it seems mostly phobia rather than hate).

scipantheist -- spot on. Japan often shows its Island Mentality in its feeble attempts to look welcoming.

-4 ( +11 / -15 )

"Please spend your money on our establishment" would have been more useful.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Next time I hear a Japanese butchering Michael Jackson or Celine Dion, I'll just snatch the mic and say sorry, they belong to us.

Japanese should know that using 'foreigner' in this cold and tasteless fashion is the equivalent of us saying 'Jap'. They don't like it and neither do we.

But this also raises an issue with me. The Japanese insulting my intelligence. As if I cannot detect the undertones present in this sign. I would not feel welcome at this establishment.

And oh! Japan, the Olympics are Greek culture but your welcome Tokyo, no need to reflect on it. Baseball is American culture, but welcome Ichiro, Tanaka, and Kuroda. Soccer originated in England but never mind. And on and on and on. The point is is that Japan owes a bit a gratitude as well, and needs to roll up the condescending red carpet.

It's this backwards social science of Japan's that plays out on the playing field and contributes to the fact that they suck at international competition.

-4 ( +9 / -13 )

Try to put a Japanese sign in your home country at the entrance of a shop and try to be 100% correct with it! Not as easy as it seems. Same goes for Japanese people and English language.

Miserable excuse! My sign would be perfect because I would've studied and consulted someone before putting up a sign in a foreign language.

Maybe this shop should've done the same.

And it doesn't matter their intentions; interpretation belongs to those who can speak the language.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Jimizo and Zorken

Google "変な日本語 海外" and click on images.

Listen folks. This is universal. Also, I've witnessed bad, inappropriate, out of line, and off the wall Japanese language displayed by long time foreign expats (including those in this site) which I find more offensive than this sign.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

That guy has done more to negatively distort people's perceptions of interactions with Japanese people than anyone....

True. But I think you're giving him too much credit in this case. I don't think there's any great agenda here - it's just not a great choice of welcoming words.

My guess would also be if anyone actually bothered point this out to the company they would probably get quite a favourable reaction.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Just because some of you are not offended by the word foreigner in this context doesn't mean that other people may not be. I agree that if a word was to be used "tourists" would have been better as that is clearly who they are trying to market towards, but then we would probably have some people here who would get mad about Japanese people assuming all foreigners in Japan are tourists. "Welcome" alone would have sufficed. I'm sure that the owner put this sign up with the best intentions not knowing that some people take offense to the word "foreigner" and that is a bigger underlying problem here with many people being ignorant that their actions can be interpreted as stereotyping/racist. I can't really hold something against someone for them not knowing better. The problem should not be taken up with the individual but the society as a whole which does not seem to educate its people on issues such as this.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Just imagine the sign on MacDonald's, KFC,..... etc. in Tokyo: "... are American culture! Welcome Japanese."

oR, in nyc: "... are American culture! Welcome foreigner."

)))))

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Agreed with most that post here- intentional or not this is discriminatory. It would be similar to seeing something like "Coloreds Welcome" in the states. In the society we have today (Japan and USA) there really is no need to specify that a certain group is welcome or not- as many stated "Tourists Welcome" would be much more acceptable with similar meaning.

It's all about the Nuance!

Insight: I read that Japanese culture (and many cultures in our world, actually) have a need to separate the "us" and the "not us". Most don't even bat an eye or even believe they are being discriminatory when they say this.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Welcoming foreigners with extra emphasis on karaoke is japanese! thanks, but i don't even like jpop that much.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

I didn't say it wasn't. If I wanted a sign, a menu or anything similar written in Japanese, I'd have it checked by a native speaker of that language. Where did I state otherwise?

It's harmless. It's funny. The only people that will EVER have issues with this are types that follow a certain activist who use to reside in the Northern part of Japan.

Better yet, perhaps the manager did in fact ask the native English speaker to translate but the said individual decided to translate in an awkward way so that the aforementioned 'follower' gets offended so they don't enter the store.

Who knows? Who cares?!!

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

tinawatanabe: "I didn't know Karaoke is popular around the globe, so this shop probably didn't know either. "

I don't know how you could not know that. It's in movies, and in pretty much any country you travel to. In any case, before you go shouting out in a sign that something is your culture (in another language for that matter) you ought to check out if it is part of culture elsewhere as well.

"I think that's exactly what they did"

I don't think so, for starters. And in the second place I was making a direct comment on your point. Japanese can be just as difficult for non-native Japanese speakers as English is for Japanese. This is not an issue of being a victim. There are a million places you can have your English checked, and most for free on the internet, and especially if you're willing to provide a little language exchange. If it's so hard, why use it?

"If they saw a Japanese sign, for instance in NY, "Jazz is American culture, welcome Japanese", then they would be touched, and pulled in like cockroaches into a roach house trap."

Don't know about 'cockroaches', but I asked you how they would feel if it said, "Welcome Gaijin" in Japanese, not "Welcome Japanese" in Japanese. I don't mean that in response to this sign, I'm just genuinely curious.

Pandabelle: "That guy has done more to negatively distort people's perceptions of interactions with Japanese people than anyone...."

What are you talking about? The guy is Japanese, so his interaction with anyone is interaction with at least one Japanese person.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

I think people are overreacting to the term 'foreigner' (in Japanese in particular). Like it or not, there is no other word for people from outside Japan, and that's not going to change any time soon. Now HOW it's said is a problem. One company I was working for a while back was advertising a new program wherein Japanese people in the surrounding community could attend events (ex. cooking parties, BBQs, etc.) with foreign people present to mingle and use English, exchange, etc., however it was worded as, "Nihon-no kata to Gaijin to issho-ni...". I have no trouble with 'gaijin', again depending on how it's used, but IF it's used than Japanese should be refered to as 'Nihonjin' if a company or people are serious about promoting friendship and equality. I pointed that out to the company head and he kind of slapped himself on the head, laughed deprecatingly, and with a red face said he would quickly fix it, which he did. The automatic writing of it that way is a bit of a problem, but it was clear he knew his mistake and did not intend it.

In any case, in relation to the sign, I think that while the place may be trying to be friendly, such a sign is unnecessary. It's one of those 'micro-aggression' things that really ends up being exclusive while trying to be inclusive.

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

The only people that will EVER have issues with this are types that follow a certain activist who use to reside in the Northern part of Japan.

Pretty much spot on. That guy has done more to negatively distort people's perceptions of interactions with Japanese people than anyone....

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

I bet the manager/staff of this place doesn't know the name of the Japanese guy who invented karaoke.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

Hey Hidingout. Don't know where you've been but in Canada, calling someone a "foreigner" is insulting.

Also, what if a person is born here, of non-Japanese parents. Are they still a "foreigner" because they are a "visibly identifiable minority"?

The issue is not about being thin-skinned; it's about stamping out ignorance and intolerance.

-8 ( +7 / -15 )

The sign is not racist but plainly stupid. The first part "Karaoke is Japanese culture" obviously is for non-Japanese, English speakers. I'm sure there is no "いらっしゃいませ日本人", therefore what's the point of the redundant word "foreigner"? "Welcome" would be enough. Unless they are inviting the band "Foreigner"...

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

Why is this sign necessary at all? I think "Open" is good enough. To have this sign up means the people are willfully singling out foreigners, and while they may be acting in the right spirit, the idea that they need to segregate their customers at all in welcoming is a pretty strong statement that such people are not really all that 'open to foreigners' yet. Methinks we're going to see a lot more of this as we get closer to 2020.

-10 ( +7 / -17 )

Japan please stop using "foreigners" or "gaijins". We feel we're all discriminated with racism.

-33 ( +21 / -53 )

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