The Yamanote Halloween Train vs. Japanese Netizen Rage
As mentioned earlier this week on Japan Probe, the Yamanote Halloween Train party was planned to be held last night in Tokyo. However, sometime yesterday morning, the Japanese megaforum 2ch.net discovered that post about the event and translated the information about it into Japanese, igniting a raging storm of anti-foreign hatred and sending over 10,000 visitors to this site.
Numerous threads over at 2channel and some Japanese blogs began to fill up with anonymous comments calling for outraged Japanese to contact the police and demand that they round up and arrest all the foreigners that joined in on the party [words like "rioters" and "terrorists" were used to refer to the foreigners]. Others boldly proclaimed that they would show up at Shinjuku station with knives and stab foreigners to death, and one even posted a comment on Japan Probe claiming that he would “blast” trains on the Yamanote Line.
Many of the Japanese netizens who came to this site had little or no understanding of English, and many automatically assumed that the Yamanote Train was organized and sponsored by Japan Probe. This resulted it quite a lot of angry comments. I ended up having to delete hundreds of racist hate comments left by Japanese netizens on our post, but I have left some to remain so they may serve record of how 2channelers expressed their disagreement towards the event. I’ve had to remove a lot of racist and ugly comments from this site since I started Japan Probe, but yesterday’s 2channeler comments were probably the most hateful, stupid, and childish I have ever encountered. [If any of you are wondering, Akismet spam protection can automatically detect and flag ASCII text art of male genitalia as spam.]
I did not attend last night’s Halloween Train party, and there are still very few reliable accounts of what happened last night. According to 2channel, the following happened:
- There were perhaps 200 to 250 foreigners present, most of them Caucasian. There was also a number of Japanese participants, most of them Japanese women.
- After getting on the train, the party-goers became drunk and loud, shouting in English and becoming aggressive towards a few Japanese.
- At some point, an idiot removed or disabled the lighting in the train car, forcing the train to make an emergency stop at Shinagawa station, where police forced everyone out of the train and tried to see what had gone wrong with the lights. It is unclear whether this put an end to the party, or if it continued afterwards.
There were several 2channeler spies present with cameras. Here are some pictures that have been posted repeatedly on their threads…
Police at Shinagawa Station:
A random image of the train:
One of the six videos of the “gaijin riot” uploaded by YouTuber toppatu44:
Many Japanese angry Japanese netizens reacted to the event by sending complaints to the Japanese police and even to foreign media outlets. One 2channeler proudly uploaded this image of an English language complaint e-mail he had written (read for a good laugh):
Somehow, I doubt the Vatican or the advertising department of the Washington Post are going to care about such a ridiculous e-mail, even if the author offers his respect to their god. Should the plan to ignite anti-Halloween Train action from the Vatican fail, 2channelers are already working other plans to stop next year’s Halloween Train.
[ Were you at the party last night? If so, please let us know what it was like! ]
A foreign participant in the event also e-mailed me:
I read the post about the responses to the Halloween Train and was slightly shocked by the Japanese outcry. The event was by no means an outlet for gaijin idiocy. I would say at least 40% of the people there were Japanese, and they were as into it as the rest of us. It was really innocent, and I don’t think I saw any signs of hostility. Most of the Japanese people who weren’t involved were really friendly- waves and smiles – and the other small contingent just ignored us. When I finally got off the train at Shinjuku station after a complete
loop, it took me a half an hour to get out of the station because so many people wanted to take pictures with me, and various conbinations of me, my friends and their friends. It was essentially a really friendly, sweet event, and maybe a couple people overshot a little, but the vast, vast majority just had a well-intentioned good time.
It’s easy for Japanese ‘netizens’ to bash it on principal, or on the basis of a small you-tube clipping, but I was there. And if anything it fostered a sense of unity among the participants, both Japanese and foreign.
Ultimately, it was just a good time.
There are, of course, some foreigners who don’t agree. A look around on google’s blog search engine revealed the following entry from a foreigner who attended the event:
Technically it’s a bunch of foreign people in Japan along with some Japanese people drinking and bum around in public, and jam the train carts so normal people can’t get on nor off… I strongly disapproved of this, but since we were supposed to go to the club together and I would have probably never found the club on my own, I had no other choice but to tag along. The entire thing was plain disgusting. If you dare you can look it up on youtube, there should be some videos from the previous years and I’m sure videos from this year will pop up there pretty soon. I really hope I didn’t get caught on someone’s camera, because I didn’t want to be there in the first place. There are no words how upset I was. I really hate foreigners in Japan and I am ashamed to be one of them.
Update 2: FG reports on the 2ch reaction to the Halloween Train, and fairly points out that there are many 2channelers who are not crazy or racist.
The Overthinker has also translated this interview with a JR employee, which was found on one of the above-linked Japanese blogs:
I asked a JR East employee about this.
Q: Did you know about the Yamanote-jacking plan before it happened?
A: Yes. Many employees knew about it, since it had happened in the past.
Q: So, you didn’t come up with any ways to deal with it before it happened then?
A: That’s not right. We do our best to ensure the disruption is kept to a minimum.
Q: Yes, but, looking at past examples, you aren’t really clamping down properly.
A: We aim above all to ensure the smooth running of the trains, and that passengers are not inconvenienced.
Q: In the interests of avoiding chaos, don’t you think that a serious clampdown is needed above all?
A: There might be that way of looking at it. I’ll think about what you have said.