Coffee Shop Sign: Speak Japanese, Not English

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    JD sends us this image of a coffee shop in Tokyo’s Chiyoda-ku:


    He considers the sign, which appears to be informing foreigners to use Japanese because its staff cannot understand English, as a “xeno-phobic” and “racist:”

    I think it is rude and pretty stupid for a place like Tokyo who wants the olympics in 2016 to allow this type of hate to be displayed.

    Obviously some one who understands English wrote the sign. Also I have written Chiyoda-ku Ward office about this sign and it was promptly ignored.
    Can you post this and see what your site readers think?

    Is a sign that asks customers to speak the language of that country racist, hateful, or xenophobic? Is it rude or stupid?


    My opinion: They aren’t rejecting all foreign customers, they’re just warning English speakers that their staff can’t speak English and asking that customers order in the only language their staff comprehends. I can understand that some people might be offended by such a sign, but I doubt it was put up with hateful or xenophobic intentions. It might be a good idea to inform the store’s owner that many foreigners would equate their sign with the message “NO FOREIGNERS,” and the sign should probably be changed.

    Update: After a majority of votes and comments have found the sign not to be offensive, JD has responded with additional details about his experience.

    A quote from the comments section of this post:

    I took the picture and sent it in. I am not thin-skinned at all and I speak Japanese perfectly. I still thought that it was a silly thing to put on your shop window. Also after I took the photo some old guys came out and started giving me the Yakuza treatment.

    I agree with the person who said that he doesn’t need to see the ‘Don’t Speak German’ signs. Of course in Japan you should try to speak Japanese as much as you can. My point was that the sign is not really friendly to foreigners. It is kind of cold and rude. But everyone is entitled to their opinion.

    More on the men who came out of the coffee shop:

    They got pretty agro on me. Cussed me out and tried to circle around me. I just walked away.

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