Friday, October 24, 2008

Gaijin Not Welcomed here...Sorry

I have always felt that Japan is one of the most accepting places in the world. For the most part this is very true. In Tokyo for example, I see just about every color of the rainbow. People usually get along very well in Tokyo despite the mix of cultural and racial backgrounds.

Although, in the end Japan belongs to the Japanese. I have always been mindful that Japan is not my birth place. My `right` to be here is very different from the natives. I have been given permission to live in Japan. I have been given permission to call Tokyo my home. While I am grateful to live in Tokyo, a recent experience left me feeling shocked and slightly hurt.

I must say now that I do not live in the downtown area of Tokyo. I live in Adachi-ku in the Aoi area. Aoi is a little neighborhood which is almost completely residential. Oddly enough, Aoi rest in between Kita-Senju and Ayase which are hot beds of gang activity. Usually, these areas are actually pretty safe to hang out in as long as you do not get in the way of `business.` Recently, I was board and really had nothing better to do than wonder around late at night. I took the 20 minute walk to Ayase station just to see what was happening. Well, it was just the usual all night bars,internet cafes, and pink action. The only thing I was really interested in that night was a cold beer. First, I went to a bar that offered a gaijin staff. It was run by a couple of black guys. Almost no body was there but it was Wednesday after all. I did kind find it a little strange that a gaijin bar was located in a building full of pink businesses. They must have a `special` deal with a local gangs or something.

After having an over priced beer I decided I wanted to get away from that building all together. I wondered around a few streets for a while until a spotted a bar with the English name `Come On.` It seemed like an ok place so I went in. I sat down at the bar and I quickly realized that something was not right. Everyone was dressed in black and looking at me like I was the devil. In fact the entire bar, including the tables and chairs, were painted black. I asked for a beer, in Japanese, but was not given one. Instead, a guy came out from the back took me by the arm and booted me out of the place. After tossing me onto the street he simply said to me, `No gaijin sorry.`

A numb feeling took over my entire body. I was in the most extreme state of shock I had ever felt. It was like my brain knew exactly what had just happened but I was unable to feel the correct emotions. I really didn`t know how to react. I remember saying to myself, `did they really just refuse to serve me because I am not Japanese?`

I walked down the street with this numb painful feeling washing over me. I wanted to kick something. I wanted to tell someone what had just happened. I wanted to do something so I could break the unbearable numbing pain. Sadly, there was nothing I could do but just take it.

The experience does not make me hold anything against Japanese people. This is the first time I have ever been toss out of a place just because I am gaijin. I assume this is a very rare thing to happen. I did ask a few of the locals and while they had never heard of the place they did tell me that it was most likely a gangster bar. I still do not know the correct emotions to feel. I have decided to just let it slid off my back. If anyone else has had a similar experience please share it in the comments section.


Kwech said...

That's terrible, man. Hopefully that never happens again. Unfortunately, there's small pockets of people like that in every country of the world. Sounds like you simply had the misfortune of stumbling into one of their hangouts.

Jason said...

You need to make this bar famous. Go back with a camera, or preferably a video camera. Imagine getting footage of you being strong-armed out of the bar?

Hell, I'd volunteer the use of myself and my video camera.

If anyone touched me like that I would have broken their arm, unless the dude was over 100kg. Then again, I never go to bars in the first place.

billywest said...

In Kanazawa, I was asked to leave a bar that had a poker table and 6 grim-looking ojisans at it, all heavily-involved in what looked to be like a less-than-friendly game of 7-card Stud. A humongous bouncer-type came up to us and said, in English, "Japanese only." I asked if he meant the language or the people, and he got really pissed. Then, one of the poker-playing ojisans stood up, approached us, and said in very clear English, "I'm sorry, but this is a private bar and membership is required. I hope you can understand..." My friend and I said that we did, and left.
Interesting experience, but sounds like yours was a little more painful.

McAlpine said...

Interesting article. There're places like this where you come from Ghost that treat blacks the same way, right ?

TheGhost said...

It was a real shocking experience for sure. I have never been tossed out of a place because of the color of my skin.

Jason I am not sure how safe it would be to get them tossing someone out of the bar with a video camera. It would take at least three people to pull that off.

By the way in the south we don`t treat blacks that way anymore. While there are places that no not prefer blacks they are more than welcome to have a beer. They just can`t talk to any of the women. A fight may also get started if some redneck has had one too many.

Thanks for sharing your experience billy. Looks like Japanese gangsters don`t like gaijin.

McAlpine said...

What's the difference ? You can have a beer, but you can't talk to the women ? In your case you married a Japanese, but can't have a beer, boo-hoo. Get over being treated like a second class citizen - see the irony ?

Of course, rednecks in the South still treat blacks far worse than that, they're just better liars and concealers of the truth, like when they killed Emmitt Louis Till.

Actually, it's good you had that experience.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear that. There are two things. One, that seems to be a very dodgy place where you'd have been ripped off plus something worse if you were Japanese. So maybe you were lucky to be put out.

Second, you are an adventurous guy. That's what makes your blog pretty interesting with lots of weird and fun experience. True, there is discrimination in Japan but in this case of yours, it's more a Yakuza-related "you stepped in the area you were not supposed to" incident.

Anyway, good luck and keep wandering around in the outer limits.

Jon Allen said...

Sounds pretty scary.
I wouldn't venture into somewhere like that so I've not had that problem.

You could always mention it to Debito, he loves taking on these guys :)

john turningpin said...

Bit of a delayed reaction, given that I just found this thread, but mcalpine, you really are a sad creature, aren't you?

The Internet -- Here, *everyone* can indulge in unwarranted self-importance.

TheGhost said...

Thanks for the bit of back up there john,
I am almost used to getting a little flack on my blog. I am damn near to the point of expecting it. At any rate people are reading my blog and find it interesting enough to leave a comment. That works for me.

I have really tried to like mcalpine, but he makes it really hard to do so. Having interaction with him is like being a one legged man in an ass kicking contest. If he wants to try and paint me as some stump jumping hillbilly he will have to pack a lunch for that job.

I got booted out of a bar because I am not Japanese and he wants to act as if I some how deserved it. For the record I have never gave hate to someone based on the color of their skin. Actually, I don`t care what skin color a person has; an asshole is an asshole.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you have to take these comments with a grain of salt. When people comment, they have a thought in their head, but don't take the time to fully qualify it with background and supporting info. (I like to think this way at least)

But as for your story, it is just blatant racism, or using racism as an excuse for not wanting you there. Japan is really heavy on the "in-group" thing.

This is why Japanese corporations are some of the strangest in the world. They never fire their employees, because they are part of the family. Also, it is very uncommon for a Japanese salaryman to switch companies because new companies will treat you as an "outsider" for maybe the first 3 years and have a hard time trusting you.

My best guess is that the language and culture is very context-sensitive, which some people call this a form of telepathy. Therefore, if you can't do telepathy with the Japanese (because you are an outsider) then they just won't accept you.

An interesting story, thanks.

TheGhost said...

mcapline has been on me for a while now on another website and I have been letting it go for the most part. I am learning to laugh at some people on the net.

I never thought about the `in-group` factor much before but it does explain a lot about how strange the company I work for behaves sometimes. I do not see the people who are supposed to be keeping me on the up and up as to what is happening within the company so often. At times I really do feel like I am on the outside looking in.