☆ i heart japan,  ☆ life

Living Tall in Japan, part 37

☆ To see all of the parts in this series, click here

The roommate situation hung in the air, making my home life tenuous at best. Downright frightening at worst. But I didn’t let it stop me from exploring Japan, my new home. Lecherous men on the street, drunk naked boys in karaoke, knife fights on the train, driving cold, not even the awful roommate could diminish my love of the country that spit out all of the manga and anime that I could get my hands on.

So, while the roommate situation was still unresolved, I went out and met more cool people. Specifically, Eda and her friends who were in Japan on their honeymoon, Kat and James! Why they wanted to hang out with other people while on their honeymoon is beyond me, but I’m glad that they did, because we have been through a lot and are still great friends, nine years later.

And, of course, what better to do with a free night than help Eda and I fulfill another of the quests that we had began–  to find a themed love hotel! (A love hotel is a place where you can rent a room.. by the hour. You can guess exactly what goes on in those sort of rooms.)

We trolled through the love hotel district in Shibuya– a very seedy part of town, actually. But in a group of four, we were poised to handle it.

After a while of wandering around in the cold, just for curiosity’s sake, we stopped at one of the hotels that advertised a super-cheap price (900yen for 30 min). Ooh! Hey, it didn’t seem to be themed, but we could all pay nearly nothing and get to be inside a love hotel. Great deal!

A sign for a love hotel. This image and all of the others on this page are from Wikipedia. Thanks, wiki!


We were just going to joke around and take pictures of the Tenipuri plushies that we’d brought with us, not actually use it for its intended use, but hey. Money is money, right?

Apparently not.

Lit up panels like these tell you what rooms are available.


We all stood in the entrance, and there were panels on the wall that had photos of what the rooms looked like. They were lit up if they were available. But as she was looking, an older man suddenly rushed out of a door in the wall.

“日本語が分からないだめ!” (“If you don’t understand Japanese, get out!”) he screamed, and then, in case we didn’t understand that, added , “NO. NO. NO!”

Eda backed up and as we were crowded swiftly out of the entrance, replied, “はい。わ・か・り・ま・し・た [you fuckface].” (“Yes. We. Under. Stand.” in Japanese) The words in parenthesis are her own embellishment, she didn’t actually say them actually out loud. Let’s consider them implied.

So yeah, he said in Japanese that if we don’t understand Japanese, we should get out. BOO! (This is also in Eda’s words)

Great Japan and its love of foreign people. I feel so welcome!

So, we got kicked out of a love hotel. Before we’d ever even been in one! At the time, it was a little bit insulting, but we thought that it was best to move on and just have a good laugh about it. With the wisdom of years behind me, I don’t think that I would do any differently, but I do feel more offended than I did at the time. Were they afraid that we were going to have an orgy in there (we weren’t)? Isn’t that what it’s for, anyways?

But, yeah. Good going, old man, for telling us to scram if we can’t understand Japanese… in Japanese. At least we know that racism is alive and well in good ol’ Japan, can’t say so much for the public education system.

See you tomorrow, for something a little bit more upbeat for this tale! The Sakura were blooming, I had a job interview, and something very, very special was about to happen! See you then! ^.^

(284 geeks have read this)

Hi! This is Jamie Lynn Lano! I am a Washington State (USA) native who: ☆ Holds a Bachelors of the Arts in Media Arts & Animation from AiPx. ☆ Worked as an assistant mangaka in Japan for Konomi Takeshi on The Prince of Tennis. ☆ Was an essay columnist for Asahi Weekly from 2008-2013. ☆ Was the star of Asahi Pop'n Press on Asahi TV (Japan) from 2009-2013 ☆ Was a write for Metropolis magazine in 2010. ☆ Has kept a blog foreeeeeeeeever! First and Current blogs.


  • Audrey

    That’s SO weird. If you guys are going to pay to be there then there’s no reason for him to be such an asshole.

    Also speaking Japanese is not a requirement to exist in a love hotel so lol. What a douche. I’m glad I personally haven’t experienced xenophobia to that extent. Gross.

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      Yeah, it was so strange to be yelled at like that, that we just backed up and let it go. But I don’t understand why he thought that our money would be any worse than a Japanese person’s. And, I mean, what was he afraid of? People usually rent those rooms for a quickie…what exactly was he afraid that we’d do?

  • Aurora

    What an insult. I didn’t know about the discrimination againts foreigners in Japan until I read some blogs.

    I don’t know what they will say to me because I’m latin.

  • Nesli

    No, but asshole-ism. He denied service because of their looks. He couldn’t know if they speak japanese or not, he just assumed it. So if you think about it he was rude just because they were “not-obviously-japanese-looking” (sorry english is only my third language)

  • GoneToMoon

    It kind of sucks that he didn’t let you pay for a room, but being discriminated based on your lack of ability to speak the language of the country you’re living in is not racism.

      • GoneToMoon

        Ah fair enough. The translated the sentence (“If you don’t understand Japanese, get out!”) confused me. I thought he was aggressively trying to test you to see if you spoke Japanese. My bad.

        • zoomingjapan

          There are some weird people here in Japan that just pretend you don’t speak Japanese although you talk to them in perfect Japanese.
          It’s like their brain cannot work out that a foreign face can speak Japanese. No Japanese words can possibly come out of a foreign mouth.
          This is very extreme and not the norm, but I ran into situations like that a few times.

          • Jamie Lynn Lano

            Yeah, that was my biggest example, but I’ve had plenty of times where clerks would answer in horrible English even though I’d spoken them to Japanese, or when people would not understand what I’d said (in Japanese) just because I don’t look Japanese. I feel bad for Caucasian/Black/etc people who are Japanese, born in Japan. Most people will never consider them Japanese, even though they just as much are as everyone else. 🙁

        • Jamie Lynn Lano

          Nah, the sentence is very ambiguous. ^^ I should have stated that apart from what he was saying, he was actually screaming, so the implied idea was, “get out, you dirty foreigners!” We spoke enough Japanese to rent a hotel room, but I don’t think that he would have listened to us even if we were fluent.

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