Japan is hosting the Rugby World Cup. Fans from all over the world are attending, and a percentage of them have been rowdy. On TV Tackle, one of Beat Takeshi’s television programs, the issue of poorly behaved foreigner tourists was once again a topic of discussion.
There has been footage of rugby fans causing chaos, smoking in non-smoking areas, and generally being noisy.
Japanese people like to think of themselves as above doing things like this. For the most part, that’s true. Trains are quiet. There is no singing, let alone human pyramids.
Scrolling through comments on blogs and Twitter, people in Japan attribute the bad behavior to a difference in how people are raised. But don’t believe go wild when Japanese sports teams win championships, too? One of Japan’s most famous sports curses came about after Osaka baseball fans stole a Colonel Sanders statue from KFC and chucked it in the Dotombori River. And it’s not just sports: Halloween in Shibuya last year resulted in Japanese people overturning a small truck and leaving trash all over.
That doesn’t give visitors the okay to do the same, of course. Good manners aside, considering how the Japanese authorities can hold people in custody for up to 23 days without charging them for a crime, I’d advise visitors to do everything they can not to piss off the police. Rugby fans should celebrate; they should not cause problems and destroy property, whether that’s in Japan or anywhere else.
Japanese TV is once again focusing on the bad behavior of foreigners. Back in 2002, it did the same for the Japan-co-hosted World Cup, warning locals of an impending invasion of soccer hooligans, hell-bent on fighting and wrecking stuff.
On TV Tackle, the panel discussed whether or not stores and restaurants should have signs that read 外国人観光客お断り or “No foreign tourists allowed” to help avoid any trouble. I guess that means if you are a foreign resident in Japan, you’ll always need to show your resident visa status to get in?
The Japanese government started an omotenashi campaign to welcome foreign visitors. “Omotenashi” refers to selfless Japanese hospitality that aims to give the guest an excellent and memorable experience.
These clips show misbehaving foreigners. At the start of the second clip, a bar owner is upset that the foreigners are banging on the table. He’s unable to communicate and seems to give up.
One panelist discussed whether the Japanese government had actually thought through what would happen if large numbers of tourists started visiting, while another wondered if Japan actually has a culture of omotenashi. After all, this is a country that banned foreigners from entering, save for only specific ports, for well over 200 years.
There are certainly problems caused by tourism. Just look how geisha and maiko are swarmed in Kyoto as they go to work.
But there have also been good things about tourism.
Foreign fans cheering for the Japanese rugby team.
People helping strangers.
Simple, yet moving and unforgettable kindness.
Respect and sportsmanship.
And good traditions rubbing off and being adapted by others.