Voices
in
Japan

quote of the day

It is important to respect the cultures of foreign countries, considering we will host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and expect many visitors to come to Japan.

34 Comments

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, referring to a New Zealand Maori woman who was denied entry to a Hokkaido onsen because of tattoos on her chin and lips. (AP)

© Japan Today

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

34 Comments
Login to comment

duh. welcome to the 21st century, japan. am i reading too much into this or does it sound like the only reason foreign cultures should be respected is because the olympics are coming? mabye im getting too cynical in my old age.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

ALL countries are "foreign." Why the redundancy???

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

80393, you might be reading too much into it. I understood it as a gentle admonishment to those who were unable to welcome guests who might look different than their Japanese clients.

Perhaps the Olympics will raise cultural sensitivity in the way that Nagano failed to do. Then again, perhaps 22 years is not quite enough time to relax the straight jacket of Japanese traditional viewpoints.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I remember the 2002 world cup in Japan. Sure, Japan was looking forward to being the focus of the world (despite having to share the spotlight with Korea), but behind all that, people were shaking at the thought of all those gaijins coming to wreck havoc in Japan. There was endless talk about trouble from hooligans. I suppose they only wanted cameramen from abroad. If you're going to hold something like the WC or Olympics, you have to expect gaijins to come. Turns out the only hooligans to cause a scene were locals.

Advice - if you want to host the Olympics, please try not to hate or discriminate against foreigners.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

philly1- yea, i wanna believe that. but it's the "considering" thats bugging me. it doesnt say, "lets respect other cultures because it is the right thing to do", rather, it appears to say, "lets stop being so racist for a little while because the world is gonna be watching." but again, im probably too cynical. a byproduct of the foreigner japanese experience i suppose. it's hard to take things at face value.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Yoshihide Suga is an LDP guy, so probably.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

It isn't the average Japanese person that is the problem. The average Japanese person is kind and considerate and like most people will meet the world how the world meets them. Problems with discrimination in Japan are mostly at the institutional level. It is the government, education system, corporate world that has set up many of the institutionally discriminatory systems in Japan. The government that you represent Mr. Suga is the problem not the solution, so you have no right to tell people how to behave. You are trying to solve problems with the same mindset that has created them. If governments and the education system stop telling the average Japanese person how to behave towards foreigners the situation will get better overnight. The immoral are giving us lessons on morality.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

This is the same putz who recently told the rest of the world what their opinions SHOULD be in regards to Fukushima nuke plants, I suspect he is trying recover from that here

1 ( +3 / -2 )

It's a bloody long time to find out, 2020 is still a long ways off, but it'll be interesting to see how this plays: will the world agree?

I actually remember the '64 Olympics, and there was quite a positive stir about Japanese hospitality way back then, but in the meantime, a global notion of hospitality has developed that many would say has equaled or outstripped traditional notions of hospitality in Japan. Just take a look at hospitality services in the top hotels and resorts world-wide, aside from Japanese franchises of those same resorts, I'm not sure this is widely understood in Japan.

The Japanese version of hospitality, as symbolized by the word, is indeed highly developed, but it's a Japanese version, and a guest / client's understanding and appreciation of that is critical to it working well. Foreigners who don't understand it, or are expecting the more widespread international version may be perplexed.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I think some are being a bit harsh. Japanese people on the whole are not used to dealing with foreigners but I rarely see anything approaching hatred. I do see uneasiness and fear based on poor language skills and an exaggerated sense of foreign people being very different to the 'unique' Japanese. I can't say I've encountered blatant malice or bloodymindedness too often.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

EXACTLY! I think it'll be quite hard for some to actually exercise this, but that isn't necessarily limited to Japan. Suga should take the woman back to the onsen and insist she be allowed in, or insist the ban on tattoos be removed before the Games.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Mutual respect is surely the correct perspective. When in Rome, do as the Roman's do.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

@jimizo-I think it is bit harsh that in 2013 that the uniquely unique Japanese have uneasiness and fear of "furriiners." I myself have been here for over 20 years and now see many many even in my country-side area. We are human, go shopping, have families, join the PTA...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Mutual respect is surely the correct perspective. When in Rome, do as the Roman's do.

Actually, mutual respect trumps 'when in Rome, do as the Roman's do'.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

And I hope those foreigners are also prepared to respect the local perspectives and customs.

If all the pretty boys and girls with their ever so fashionable tattoos educate themselves prior to arrival that their lemming ink will exclude them from many Onsens, they should accept this with grace and humility. Not stand at the gate shouting: 'I am being discriminated against here! I demand that Japan accept my rights as an egotistical narcissist!'

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

lemming ink

That is a great expression!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Tamarama

If all the pretty boys and girls with their ever so fashionable tattoos educate themselves prior to arrival that their lemming ink will exclude them from many Onsens, they should accept this with grace and humility. Not stand at the gate shouting: 'I am being discriminated against here! I demand that Japan accept my rights as an egotistical narcissist!'

Yeah, of course anyone who doesn't automatically bow down to every ridiculous "customs" is an "egotistical narcissist".

It's funny, because Japan actually has this tradition of bending over backwards to treat the guests better than the host. But when it comes to foreigners, apparently this tradition does not apply.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

When in Rome, do as the Roman's do.

Except when the Romans don't let you do what they are doing because you are a foreigner.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

People in East Asia generally avoid people with tattoos, it often associated with crimes and go way back, it embedded in the subconscious from very young age. I know because I'm Asian grown up in a 3rd world country and live now live in Japan, I can see the similarity and I don't expect people from the West to understand. Also, lol at people making a scene when something doesn't go their way, first world problem again.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

People in East Asia generally avoid people with tattoos, it often associated with crimes and go way back, it embedded in the subconscious from very young age. I know because I'm Asian grown up in a 3rd world country and live now live in Japan, I can see the similarity and I don't expect people from the West to understand. Also, lol at people making a scene when something doesn't go their way, first world problem again.

Exactly, they only avoid people with tattoos BECAUSE they are associated with criminals. Get rid of the association, and they will no longer be afraid of people with tattoos. Amazing!

Which is actually a shame, because yakuzas/criminals or not, Asian full-body tattoos are aesthetically pretty cool. If they're no longer associated with criminals then they can be appreciated for what they are.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Eiji Takano

Yeah, of course anyone who doesn't automatically bow down to every ridiculous "customs" is an "egotistical narcissist".

Calling it 'redicuolous' is an entirely subjective cultural perception that speaks of you only.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Back on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes, indeed that includes Koreans and Chinese please Japan Today commenters!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Calling it 'redicuolous' is an entirely subjective cultural perception that speaks of you only.

...That made absolutely no sense. Oh and guess what, I am Japanese. So if you were not Japanese, then I guess you'd be the cultural imperialist who is imposing his values onto mine.

There is nothing wrong with standing up for your rights. Making a doormat out of yourself is NOT being "humble".

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

If all the pretty boys and girls with their ever so fashionable tattoos educate themselves prior to arrival that their lemming ink will exclude them from many Onsens, they should accept this with grace and humility. Not stand at the gate shouting: 'I am being discriminated against here! I demand that Japan accept my rights as an egotistical narcissist!'

the pot says the kettle is black

0 ( +1 / -1 )

That a someone this high up would be commenting at all, much less pleading for tolerance, on an issue like this is extraordinary. I have no doubt he has the 2020 Olympics foremost on his mind. New like this, on top of Fukushima, would be all that some people would need to know about Japan to convince them to stay away from Japan.

I do not see the Olympics by themselves raising Japan's tolerance of cultural differences. Others have done little or knotting in that regard.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Eiji Takano

That made absolutely no sense.

It makes perfect sense.

There is nothing wrong with standing up for your rights.

And what exactly are those 'rights', in this case? I'd like to see you 'flesh' that out a little.

pochan

the pot says the kettle is black

The pot says the kettle chose to be black, along with many other kettles, at the tip of a tattoo gun, for the sake of fashion and 'individuality' that seems to make the kettle look exactly like all the other 'individual' kettles. And that said kettles should be aware that, with their artificial colouring comes certain prevailing cultural attitudes towards the way they look and that these are strong and deeply entrenched and that just because the kettle thinks that he/she looks AMAZING, doesn't mean that those old cultural attitudes will, or should, just disappear.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@sillygirl I couldn't agree more. It is ridiculous that in 2013 many Japanese still have these attitudes. Some of the childish nonsense I've seen at work and outside exasperate me, but it isn't hatred in the vast majority of cases.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Tamarama

And what exactly are those 'rights', in this case? I'd like to see you 'flesh' that out a little.

The ability to enter onsen... duh.

The pot says the kettle chose to be black, along with many other kettles, at the tip of a tattoo gun, for the sake of fashion and 'individuality' that seems to make the kettle look exactly like all the other 'individual' kettles. And that said kettles should be aware that, with their artificial colouring comes certain prevailing cultural attitudes towards the way they look and that these are strong and deeply entrenched and that just because the kettle thinks that he/she looks AMAZING, doesn't mean that those old cultural attitudes will, or should, just disappear.

I think that you have trouble writing intelligible sentences... because I can't understand this at all.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The ability to enter onsen... duh.

Many Onsens are privately owned and run businesses, or run by the local council. They maintain them, run them and have the right to set rules of entry according to local laws, cultural sentiment or other preferences. Getting a tattoo is a choice, and I think anyone is drawing a pretty long and whiney bow if they then pull out the 'discrimination' card when complaining about their treatment thereafter. Ignorance is no excuse. Entry is not a 'right'.

I notice you are pretty quick to tell people you are Japanese. Are both you parents Japanese, have you lived in Japan all your life, is English your second language?

because I can't understand this at all.

Don't sweat that too much.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Tamarama

Many Onsens are privately owned and run businesses, or run by the local council.

Just because they're private, doesn't mean that they can bar people from entering based on very arbitrary terms. It makes no sense to ban people with tattoos, because there's absolutely no need to. Imagine if some owner didn't like the look of Asians, so the business said "No Asians". Well, that business would be in trouble. It would be equally stupid if it said "No people with so and so hairstyle", or whatever.

Some might say, "But the people would get scared!". Ok, but the REAL problem is the yakuzas, not people with tattoos. Get to the root of the problem, do something about the yakuzas, not people with tattoos.

I notice you are pretty quick to tell people you are Japanese. Are both you parents Japanese, have you lived in Japan all your life, is English your second language?

I spent half of my childhood overseas, and yes English is my second language.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Just because they're private, doesn't mean that they can bar people from entering based on very arbitrary terms.

Firstly, that's not arbitrary. If one or two Onsens did that it would be, but it's a well-known, widely maintained custom that has been around a long time. And secondly, private businesses can absolutely refuse patrons entry according to 'presentation' or 'dress standards'. Absolutely. That is very normal practice in many places.

It makes no sense to ban people with tattoos, because there's absolutely no need to.

That is just your subjective opinion.

Imagine if some owner didn't like the look of Asians, so the business said "No Asians".

Yes, certainly problematic for an Onsen business in Japan I would have thought.

But here is where your argument falls in a hole. To discriminate against race is an entirely different issue, and not relevant as support for this issue. There is no parallel between the two. A person's ethnicity is inherent, a tattoo is not. It's a choice. Call it self expression, fashion, rebellion...whatever you want. The simple fact remains that tattoos carry with them a certain social 'stigma', rightly or wrongly. You want a job with Goldman and Sach's? You will be covering your ink.

http://money.msn.com/now/post.aspx?post=8fa94168-c037-49d0-a4a1-e6dd160fea89

It's still a very commonplace perspective.

What you are completely overlooking is the fact that this is the prevailing attitude in Japan. Businesses do what their patron's want - which still seems to be tattoo free Onsens. This is driven as much by public perception as business owner rule.

My argument is that, because of this prevailing attitude, foreigners entering Japan need to expect and prepare for this, and adjust their behaviour accordingly.

Not because they are 'doormats', but because they are in a different country with different views, and that is respectful and considerate.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

what is the meaning of Olympic, it shows us that all human beings/cultures are equal and it also demand respect for all cultures. but unfortunately, the Japanese Police and Immigration infect the Japanese establishment is just doing the apposite, how they deal with foreigners, the whole world knows that, all the human rights organization have shown concerned about all the issues related to foreigners in japan, But this country and this establishment will remain the same.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites