This is a change. For years, there were stories of Japanese establishments with “Japanese-only” policies, refusing foreigners. But now, one noodle restaurant in Okinawa is refusing to serve Japanese customers, saying that they are ruder than the foreign patrons.
According to Tokyo Reporter, ramen restaurant Menya Yaeyama Style has instituted a no-Japanese customer policy starting this month, until the fall. The restaurant is located on Ishigaki Island, which is popular among Japanese tourists for its beaches.
The restaurant’s manager, 42-year-old Akio Arima, announced the policy on Facebook, saying that the restaurant was only open for foreigners—or, it seems, Japanese people who live in other countries. “If you are Japanese but live abroad, please show us your ID,” Arima added.
“Year after year, the manners of Japanese tourists have steadily become poor,” reads a sign outside the restaurant. Arima told J-Cast News (via Tokyo Reporter) that Japanese customers were ordering only one bowl of ramen and sharing it as well as bringing outside food into the restaurant to eat. Foreign customers, it seems, were not doing this.
Staffers have quit due to the stress of dealing with Japanese customers. In Japan, there is a saying that the customer is god. But Arima thinks that needs to change. “I must apologize to my regular customers,” he tells Yaeyama Mainichi. “Business is down, but I’ve reached my mental and physical limit.”
Menya Yaeyama Style seats only eight at the counter, and it has a one-order-per-person rule. The restaurant also has a no child and no infant policy, which has also pissed off Japanese tourists, who would reportedly complain that they already paid a couple of dollars for metered parking. As seen in this screenshot by Kanako Conan Blog, the establishment’s rules are clearly written outside the restaurant in English and Japanese. Still, people should be banned for ignoring the rules, not for their nationality.
Complaints from Japanese customers have been harsh, apparently, causing high staff turnover. Arima is the only one left.
People do say the ramen is quite good!
According to Arima, he does his best to appease customers, so he doesn’t like turning them away. “It’s not just Japanese, but I don’t want any awful customers to come.”
And from the sound of it, they’re not. “There are no customers at all,” the manager told J-Cast News. “Yesterday I had only two people. As expected, many people have complained [about the policy]. My business isn’t doing well, but for the time being, I will rest my body and clean up the restaurant.”
But will Japanese customers be welcomed once again? The notice outside the shop announcing the Japanese ban does say the restaurant is considering resuming business, as usual, starting this October.