Japan Today

Theo Lubbe comments

Posted in: Sakurajima volcano erupts, spewing ash 5.5 kms high See in context

It is a climate emergency!


Surely, this is somehow related to CO2 /AGW!

Tectonic activity is about as sensitive to 'climate change' as your stovetop is to you dropping a fraction of a millilitre of water on it while it's heated to full capacity.

Read: Surface climate has just about nothing to do with sub-crust activity.

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Posted in: How much do you need to earn every month for a 'normal' life in Kyoto? Here’s a sample budget See in context

Housing and utilities combined at less than 50,000jpy? That's the cheapest I've ever seen, and I'd thought the ~78kjpy places I'd been looking at some years ago were 'inexpensive'...

Would be interesting to see what sorts of accommodation it is these folks are afforded for their money.

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Posted in: Japan may change temple map icon to avoid Nazi swastika confusion See in context

“The question is whether one can easily tell it’s a temple by looking at the current symbol.”

Sure one can. You just need to check the key in the map, the way you'd need to check the key in the map if a pagoda symbol were used, seeing as not every tourist is going to be familiar with what a pagoda is in the first place.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: O'Barry ordered deported from Japan See in context

Theo, seriously? Lol. I'm too tired to argue right now. But he was never charged with a crime, therefore, he isn't a criminal

Keep in mind your criminal record in countries which are not Japan still influence your ability to enter the country. He has committed numerous crimes for which he has been arrested and charged. As mentioned already, go watch The Cove and you can see him committing what amounted to crimes for yourself.

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Posted in: O'Barry ordered deported from Japan See in context

Ric is not affiliated with SSCS Yes he is. Go watch 'The Cove', produced by Obarry himself.

But even if he was affiliated, does that really matter? Yes, it does. Sea Shepherd are deemed by some countries and many people who are not personally affected by the organization to be an 'eco terrorists' due to the manner in which they set about achieving their goals. Being affiliated with such a group is directly detrimental to one's ability to enter many countries if it could be construed your goal is to cause problems within those countries, which Obarry has done before.

He has done absolutely NOTHING wrong or illegal. Yes, he has. Go watch 'The Cove'.

He's very friendly to the locals Causing problems or distress for people is the opposite of being 'very friendly'. Go watch The Cove.

He is not a criminal Technically he is. Go watch The Cove.

Are you seriously that threatened by a 76-year old activist? Is it that much of a problem for you that he's been denied entry due to his prior transgressions? He could live out the rest of his days never setting foot in Japan again. It's not like he's a resident or has citizenship there.

But we are a movement of likeminded individuals who know right from wrong. I hope you go out of your way to have the slaughter of any other animals stopped altogether as well, because the slaughter of these dolphins is no different. What is different is that you've some personal attachment to them and hold them in higher regard than other animals. You're free to claim "they're more intelligent" than other animals, but cows have been demonstrated many times as being intelligent also, yet they're still eaten all the same. If the dolphin meat is ultimately being consumed, they're not being slaughtered for giggles, and thus aren't all that different from any other animal humans kill to eat.

Why do you want to keep poisoning your people, your children with mercury-laden meat? Is the Japanese government forcing people to eat dolphin meat? If not, then what are you on about?

They're sentient beings like US. So are chickens, sheep, cattle, fish, etc. Go look up the definition of 'sentience'.

You need to end this brutal non-tradition (as it's only been going on since the 50's.) Do you start your mornings with a mug of coffee? That's a tradition, even if you've only been doing it for however long you've been living and even if the manner in which you carry it out is specific to you. Traditions are defined by nothing more than whether they're habitual, repeated activities or are arbitrary. If the slaughter of the dolphins is conducted on an annual basis rather than arbitrarily, it amounts to a tradition. I don't doubt that by now there's been at least one generation taught to partake in the same act, which would bring into the fold the more narrow definition of a 'tradition'.

The world has been watching and is watching EVEN CLOSER NOW since you're detaining Ric for no good reason at all. A lot of the world is completely oblivious to this incident. This story appeared nowhere in South African news that I'm aware of, as example. I don't doubt there's a general lack of interest in the topic in general from many except those who are vested in it. 'The world' is more preoccupied with other things than whether someone who has broken several laws in a country is denied reentry there.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Posted in: Surprising number of Japanese kids still bathe with their parents up until high school See in context

While the statistics are interesting, the author of the article seems to be confused as to bathing practises in Japan, as pointed out by Glenn.

Worth keeping in mind, the term 'bathe' refers to the general act of cleansing one's body, if not wading/swimming in a body of water. In doing so one needn't go anywhere near a bath(tub). As such the focus on 'showering' is a little misplaced here since, while showering is also common in Japan, many will do exactly as Glenn described and wash without actively-running water going whilst sitting on a stool, then rinse off once they're done and maybe soak in a tub afterward.

That statistic could thus well mean families who clean themselves whilst in each other's company and/or soak in a bath together after.

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Posted in: O'Barry ordered deported from Japan See in context

Except that dolphins are sentient animals and not farmed ruminants or domesticated fowl bred for the table

I don't know where you got your definition on what defines 'sentience' from, but ruminants and fowl are also sentient animals. There are many ruminants and fowl which are wild yet still hunted for food (sometimes primarily for sport, even). By your argument, if animals like dolphins or whales were to become farmed they would lose sentience (they wouldn't) and it'd become okay to slaughter and eat them whereas it previously wouldn't have been in your eyes.

Fact is this guy has conducted himself illegally in the country before. Among the things he's done has been record and disseminate footage of people without their consent and/or knowledge. He's lied to police during questioning. He's tresspassed. He's damaged/destroyed private property.

The very opening of The Cove is "I want to say I tried to do this legally"

Anyone may agree or disagree with what his goals are and anyone may agree or disagree with how he goes about attaining those goals, but ultimately if you're in a country not your own you've zero right to fight against their laws regardless of what your goals are.

You may disagree with their laws, but you are not entitled to contravening them without suffering the consequences for doing so.

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Posted in: New train recreates hotel atmosphere with wood interiors and views from foot of Mt Fuji See in context

Any idea as to the projected cost of a trip and the times they'd run?

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Posted in: Culture clash: 10 insider tips for visiting Japan See in context

*7. Level up your wardrobe

If you’re meeting up with Japanese people, dress nicely. it’s amazing how often I see smartly attired Japanese people dining with a foreigner who is wearing jeans and sneakers. It’s disrespectful to your guests as well as the restaurant. In Japan, jeans and sneakers are for musicians and artists.*

I was invited to a restaurant located near the foot of the Tokyo Tower by my tutor's friend, and while I had 'smart' clothes specially purchased, fitted and brought along to wear for the occasion I was ultimately told to instead come in a comfortable t-shirt and jeans.

My tutor similarly went in a t-shirt, jeans and a semi-smart jacket while his friend, our host, showed up in a t-shirt and jeans. This was at an establishment where the most basic set meal began at 23,000jpy at the time and booking to eat there was unlikely to be successful unless one was already a regular (our host was) or had sufficient societal status for the visitation to be worth the establishment's time.

I imagine the 'rule' is generally true, but it seems native Japanese folk are perfectly happy to break it themselves.

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Posted in: Pachinko is ‘recreation for morons,’ magazine claims See in context

Some of the machines I saw in 2008 had all sorts of cool mechanical and/or electronic animations playing in them based on what was happening, so they were sometimes entertaining to at least watch as someone else played.

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Posted in: Michelin-star sushi restaurant in Tokyo defends foreigner rules See in context

@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


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 )

Posted in: Michelin-star sushi restaurant in Tokyo defends foreigner rules See in context

@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 )

Posted in: Michelin-star sushi restaurant in Tokyo defends foreigner rules See in context

@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 )

Posted in: Michelin-star sushi restaurant in Tokyo defends foreigner rules See in context

"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 )

Posted in: Michelin-star sushi restaurant in Tokyo defends foreigner rules See in context

"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 )

Posted in: Michelin-star sushi restaurant in Tokyo defends foreigner rules See in context

"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 )

Posted in: Michelin-star sushi restaurant in Tokyo defends foreigner rules See in context

@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 )

Posted in: Michelin-star sushi restaurant in Tokyo defends foreigner rules See in context

@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 )

Posted in: Michelin-star sushi restaurant in Tokyo defends foreigner rules See in context

@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 )

Posted in: Michelin-star sushi restaurant in Tokyo defends foreigner rules See in context

@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 )

Posted in: Michelin-star sushi restaurant in Tokyo defends foreigner rules See in context

@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 )

Posted in: Michelin-star sushi restaurant in Tokyo defends foreigner rules See in context

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 )

Posted in: Michelin-star sushi restaurant in Tokyo defends foreigner rules See in context

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 )

Posted in: Mount Fuji climbers to be urged to wear helmets See in context

The helmet can protect people from rocks rolling and going airborne from above as other people accidentally dislodge them. The goggles and dust masks can be kept handy but not necessarily worn unless necessary. Having clothing at hand for cold weather makes sense since it could happen that one must spend a lot more time than expected on the mountain (injuries, as an example).

Those of you reading and thinking they're saying these should be worn on one's person at all time are misinterpreting their message. There's a difference between being equipped with something and actually using it.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Posted in: 10 kinds of posts that make Japanese want to block their friends on Facebook See in context

I think many of these also apply to people who aren't Japanese. I could identify with finding most of those annoying.

Especially those 'successful date' posts; so you're happy with someone. Great. I don't want to see you saying the same thing differently 5 times a day or see you sending cringe-worthy messages which really belong in private, in public, every day of the week. C'mon. Get a room.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Posted in: Australian activist takes dolphin slaughter town to court See in context

@M3M3M3 Fair enough, that's why I was asking. In South Africa, by South African law, private property is private property, and a business (be it a retail store, a convenience store, a 'gas' station, restaurant, government-run museum or even a 'public' park) all constitute private property for which the managing party has the right to reserve admission to the premises.

Businesses registered here are not so much owned as regulated by the government, and that regulation only goes so far as ensuring the premises are only used in the manner permitted and that the activities conducted on the premises remain lawful. There is no law here against turning someone away at the door for whatever reason you may want; their clothes, their hair, piercings, the language they speak, even their race.

Yes, race as well. People will certainly get into one hell of a huff here if you tell them people of race X may not enter the premises, but that doesn't make it illegal.

Interesting to know Japan is the opposite in this regard. I'd always been under the impression things were similar there. I mean, if someone doesn't want me entering a place or making use of facilities because of any factors they may feel warrant it, by default I'd just go with their wishes to minimize any potential problems for them and myself.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Australian activist takes dolphin slaughter town to court See in context

"Right of admission reserved" Does Japan not allow private places to hold such a stance? If I don't want to let someone enter my studio (not that I have one, but let's say I did) based on any criteria I deem suitable, should I not be within rights to do so? I'm not barring them from entering a public space not under my jurisdiction, after all; I'm barring them from entering a private space 'belonging' to me.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: 2 men indicted for setting off firecrackers in Nagoya Starbucks See in context

@kansaifun, if I'm not mistaken, in the videos (there's more than one) these guys actually introduce themselves while showing their faces and stating their full names prior to yelling their 'message' and throwing the firecrackers into the store, then running off.

As such, there mere fact the videos went viral and that attention will be drawn to this case again will still get them plenty of the fame they so desired.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Man in coma after being beaten by gang on street in Kanagawa See in context

@Mods/Article author, any chance you guys will be able to keep track of this case with the police, or do they not submit to the public information on their investigations?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Two AKB48 singers, 1 staff member attacked at handshake event in Iwate See in context

"Most celebrities know enough to stay well away from their fans in public because of safety issues." Which is why the majority of celebrities around the world happen to live among normal people, right? For every x amount of sane fans you'll get y of insane ones regardless of where in the world you are. If you're going to be afraid of the outlying cases, you might as well not even start attracting a fanbase, as you're going to get the crazies with the not-so-crazies whether you like it or not, and going out in public doesn't automatically make you any more of a target than shutting yourself in at home all the time.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

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