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Michelin restaurant in Ginza refuses reservations by foreigners

Sushi Mizutani
Sushi Mizutani (

On April 8, the secretary for Chinese journalist Mo Bangfu telephoned Sushi Mizutani, a 10-seat restaurant located in Tokyo’s ritzy Ginza district, to make a reservation for four people.

The reservation was on behalf of Bangfu, who was hosting three guests from the Communist nation. The secretary, a Japanese female, was told that seats were available on the requested day.

However, once the course of conversation revealed that the party would in fact consist of foreigners she was informed that the restaurant has a policy of refusing reservations from non-Japanese.

Mo, a 30-year resident of Japan, then telephoned the restaurant himself and received the same information. “It was disappointing,” Mo told evening tabloid Nikkan Gendai (April 26).

With Sushi Mizutani having received a two-star ranking in the “Michelin Guide Tokyo 2015,” the paper finds the policy disturbing as Japan is continuing a push to attract more visitors from overseas.

In a phone conversation with the head of the restaurant, whose typical meals runs around 20,000 yen, Nikkan Gendai learns that issue involves problems that occurred in the past.

“In order to preserve the atmosphere of the restaurant, we try to maintain that the total number of guests are split between Japanese and foreigners,” says the representative. “Since we’ve had foreigners make reservations and not show up and other problems, we only take reservations through a hotel concierge or (through a service provided by) a credit card company.”

Mo’s status as a permanent resident is irrelevant, according to Sushi Mizutani.

“Whether one is a tourist or not cannot be determined over the phone,” the representative says. “So this is an across-the-board policy.”

The appeal of Japanese cuisine has been one factor in the recent rise in travelers from overseas coming to Japan. Earlier this month, the Japan National Tourism Organization said that the 1,526,000 tourist arrivals for March set a record.

That record will likely fall again soon. For the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the government expects 25 million foreigners to arrive in Japan. By comparison, last year the figure stood at 13 million.

Perhaps ironically, Mo works as a tourism adviser for Yamanashi and Kagawa prefectures. He finds the behavior of Sushi Mizutani baffling, though he does have some sympathies regarding problems that may have taken place in the past.

“However, I, a permanent resident, find the conscious separation of foreigners and Japanese to be discriminatory,” he says.

The matter is not just a problem just for Sushi Mizutani, the journalist continues.

“For the betterment of the entire image of Japan for visitors, conscious change may be necessary,” he says.

Source: “Sabetsu? Yoyaku kyohi sa reta gaikoku hito ga ikidoru mishuran sushi-ten no taio,” Nikkan Gendai (April 26)