Helpful Info for Those Visiting/Living in Japan

Discussion in 'Ninjutsu Resources' started by bencole, Mar 17, 2006.

  1. bencole

    bencole Valued Member

    Because we have so many foreigner practitioners in the Bujinkan who visit Japan or live in Japan, I wanted to share this website with you.

    Arudou Debito, formerly David Christopher Aldwinckle, is a naturalized Japanese citizen now. On the site you will find links to lots of cool info, including "Survival Strategies in Japan" and "Debunking Myths about Japan."

    Many of these links could be very helpful for people, including:

    WHAT TO DO IF... are stopped by the Japanese police. are arrested by the Japanese police. overstay your visa. see a "Japanese Only" sign. are refused service at a business catering to the general public. are turned away at a hotel. need a lawyer.

    Arudou sucessfully sued a Japanese onsen (hot springs bath house) for denying him entry as a foreigner. The Supreme Court of Japan supported the decision by refusing to hear the appeal filed by the onsen owner. You can find interesting information about the case on the site.

    Hope this is helpful for people. Lots of links!!!

  2. Cuchulain

    Cuchulain Valued Member

    An interesting read. As visitors, we tend only to see the friendly surface of Japanese culture, but I have spoken to enough residents to know that life isnt made particulary easy for people who choose to stay and live in Japan.

    Earlier this year, I was stopped by four policemen in Kashiwa one night, and more or less accosted. I was totally perplexed as to what they wanted - my Japanese gets me around bars, restaurants, train stations and dojos, but it's a major leap from there to dealing with the police, particularly when they seem very serious but you have no idea what they want. They were very persistent and weren't going to be fobbed off.

    I tried to explain that I was a tourist, but they wanted ID - from the above site, I presume a gaijin card - but I didn't have any on me. Thankfully I wasn't that far from my hotel, and so they escorted me there while I got it from my room. They waited outside - much to the confusion of the hotel staff who frankly didn't look that thrilled. In the end, I think I was quite lucky, because I presume they could have carted me off to a policestation, where I could have sat around for a day or so while an english speaking officer was located and brought to meet me.

    The moral of the story is carry your passport if you are on a training trip. Apparently it's illegal to not have either a passport for visitors or a gaijin card for residents, but it was the first I'd heard about it. Courtesy of Ben's link above, I found the following translation of the law surrounding police stopping foreigners to ask for ID:

    I wonder what crime they thought I was likely to commit or had recently commited? Does this sound like a common occurance to you Ben?
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2006
  3. benkyoka

    benkyoka one million times

    Yes, carry your Passport (or gaijin card if you have it). I carry both on my person at all times yet have never had an encounter requiring me to produce it. Ironically, there was an incident in the town where I work where police stopped an east asian looking woman and asked her to produce her ID. When she did not answer they took her to the police station. She still wouldn't talk and eventually wrote a phone number on a piece of paper. They called the number and spoke to the woman's mother and, lo and behold, the woman was a japanese citizen. Whoops. That's a lot of egg on the face of the police. Good thing seppuku is not a serious option here anymore. Now it is all press conferences and bowing in apology while the newspapers' flashbulbs go off like crazy.
  4. bencole

    bencole Valued Member

    Incidents in Japan

    There is honestly no need to carry both at the same time. If you have a gaijin card, that is more than sufficient for any such instances. They can pull you up in a second with that thing.

    Absolutely! When you come into the country, the documents that you adhere to state explicitly that you MUST have either your passport or your gaijin card on your person at all times! I know a lot of people who think that they should leave their passport in their hotel room because it may get lost. If the cops pull you aside, you could be really screwed.

    You are VERY lucky. Back when I was a student at Waseda University (in Tokyo), a classmate of mine was pulled over while walking home to his homestay family's house. He explained that his gaijin card was in his room and asked if they would accompany him to pick it up. The police refused.

    They arrested him and took him back to the station. My friend sat in the police station all day waiting for his host mother to return home, hear the plea for help on the answering machine, rummage through his messy room, drive down to the station, apologize to the police, etc. etc. It caused his family a lot of "inconvenience" (called "meiwaku" in Japanese), and hurt his relationship with his family.

    Japan is BIG on "doing what is right and not creating troubles for others." That is why Joji Ohashi and Doug Wilson have posted pleas for people to clean up after themselves after training and to NOT throw their garbage on the ground. All these things do is create "troubles" and "embarrassment" for Hatsumi-sensei.

    I know another guy who was taken in for defending himself in a fight. His position was that "he had done nothing wrong and was defending himself." Well, the police wanted him to sign an apology form for his transgression against society. The foreigner refused, again insisting that he had done nothing that warranted an apology.

    One of the cops came up to him, grabbed him in the back of the head and smash his face into the table, blooding him up. "Don't you understand how you have inconvenienced others?!? Why won't you apologize?!?" After having his face smashed a few times, my friend grabbed the paper and signed it.

    The police gave him tissue to clean himself, bowed to him to thank him for his conscientious decision, and suddenly became very kind to him. In other words, he did what was "right" even though he had done nothing wrong.

    In a separate incident, I was in a bar with some friends from a Waseda club. One of our group's sempai (seniors) had been in the toilet stall when another guy from another group came into the bathroom. Thinking that the guy who had entered was one of his kohai (juniors), the super-drunk senior spoke very rudely to this guy he had never met (nor seen because he was vomiting in the toilet). :D

    Anyway, the guy got really upset and returned to his group. Their group approached ours, singling out THE WRONG PERSON, and insisting that he accompany them outside for an butt kicking. We naturally refused to turn over any of our members to them, especially someone who was not even the right guy!

    Tensions were VERY HIGH for at least fifteen minutes in full standoff. One guy even grabbed me by the collar. Any other time, I probably would have just decked the guy, which would have caused all **** to break loose, but I was looking to my group for signs of what to do. I didn't feel any real threat, just posturing, and did eventually manage to remove his hand without escalating the situation.

    Suddenly, the MISTAKEN SENIOR, the guy who had done NOTHING wrong, shouted out, "Moushiwake gozaimasen!" ("I am deeply sorry"), going into a full frontal bow, head below hip level. He stayed like that for a few seconds, then screamed even louder the same apology. He straightened, looked at the other group, and did it again. Over and over and over and over and over.

    Tears starting welling up in my eyes (actually they are right now as I re-live the scene). :cry: It was one of the most beautiful and selfless acts that I had ever witnessed. He had done NOTHING WRONG, yet he took it upon himself to shoulder the wrongdoing for the good of the entire group.

    That piercing voice. That bowing over and over and over.

    I got my first real look at the Japanese heart that day. It has stayed with me ever since.

  5. Cuchulain

    Cuchulain Valued Member

    Hmm - I am not renouned for my fabulous memory, and am perfectly willing to be corrected on this, but I can't say I have ever read anything on any official documentation while entering Japan that states this.

    In fact, the only interaction I have with the Japanese government in this regard when visiting Japan is the landing card you fill in on the plane when coming into Narita. This doesn't include anything about the stipulation that you must carry a passport or identity card, but rather just asks you to list where you are staying, where you are from, your home address and passport number - that kind of thing. I was with a group of other Irish guys when this incident occured, most of whom had also been to Japan before, and it was also news to them.

    Is this in the small print of the visitors visa that is issued? In other words, are you actually told you must carry ID or are you expected to just know this?
  6. bencole

    bencole Valued Member

    The Fine Print

    I've seen it in print somewhere and have also been told at the airport as well. Granted, I had only entered twice before taking on long-term residency and the gaijin card...and my entry happened some 15+ years ago! (Yikes! Has it been that long?!?)

    If you got a visa stamp at the embassy before departing for Japan, you used to receive a piece of paper that states all the conditions under which the visa was provided. These days, people from certain countries (USA, UK, Australia, etc.) take advantage of the "no visa needed until I get to the desk at Narita" system, which may leave them without that paperwork. Seeing how no one in their right mind should want to travel to a country prior to even knowing if they would need a visa, perhaps the Japanese believe that if you show up WITHOUT one in your passport because you heard about such a policy that you actually know what is expected of you according to that policy.... Japan is filled with such "you should know what to do" situations; in most cases, the reasons are not written, but in terms of immigration policy, it *IS* written somewhere, and so it is (sadly) up to YOU to ferret out the information about your conditions of stay.

    If memory serves, the Gaijin card actually has written on it IN ENGLISH that it must be carried at all times. Perhaps benkyoka could confirm this for us. I was in Japan when there was a huge debate about whether to actually have our fingerprints printed on the card. It was decided to provide a plastic sleeve with a sticker of the the emperor's chrysanthemum crest strategically covering the fingerprint. :D

    How quaint.... :rolleyes:

    One final warning: NEVER TRY TO TAKE ILLICIT DRUGS INTO JAPAN!!! You will discover what Dante's Inferno is truly like. I'll write more about this when I find more time later....


  7. JibranK

    JibranK Valued Member

    Mr. Cole,

    Thanks for the information. This will come in handy for many of us on training trips.

  8. saru1968

    saru1968 New Member


    Jibran, this is probably one of those times when you should read rather than post.

    As per Ben's posts in the other thread, you could be read as having experience training in Japan.

    No offense.

  9. hatsie

    hatsie Active Member Supporter

    thanks so much for the info, i have been twice and never thought about carrying my passport, for obvious fear of getting drunk and waking up naked and passportless outside a seedy bar(as you do).

    as i am going to japan on thursday i will definatly carry my p.p with me! and advice my friends to do likewise.

    common sense would idicate one should write details of your passport and any residency visa'a(ie. an ozzy one in my case) and keep it safe and seperate at your hotel. i hope i don't go there though.......

    ps. normski , as i am saddened to say the u2 concert is canned until november, so i have extended my stay til about the 3rd , hope to see/train with you at hombu.(i think i saw a picture of you on here somewhere, so if your approached by a really handsome, very fit and well built gentleman with a thick scottish accent it won't be some filmstar you can't place, it will be me, lol)

    thanks again for the info,

  10. Grimjack

    Grimjack Dangerous but not serious

    There are tons of stories on the internet of people who tried. Ben Cole is not being alarmist. I have heard that you should be carefull of things like cough medicine. There was a thread about these types of things on another forum.

    And when I travel overseas, I always have my passport with me.
  11. Neil-o-Mac

    Neil-o-Mac The Rev

    Re: the drugs/Japan thing, I remember a story about Aerosmith's first visit to Japan, when they were still heavily into drugs, their roadies went out and bought antique opium pipes and tried to smoke the residue to get high. I think the band made up for the lack of drugs by getting completely bladdered.

    Just an amusing tale slightly connected to the discussion. We now return you to your previously scheduled topic. :D
  12. benkyoka

    benkyoka one million times

    I was watching a Japanese television show some time ago and was surprised to learn that not only is it illegal for Japanese to use drugs in Japan (no surprise there, but wait) it is illegal for them to use drugs abroad. Yes, you read correctly, the Japanese law applies to the citizen outside of Japan. How does that work?
  13. kouryuu

    kouryuu Kouryuu

    Hey, Hatsie, i`ll be at the Honbu on Sunday 2nd, i`ll be at Nagato Sensei`s first, i`ll be the good looking bald git :D , see you there.
  14. JibranK

    JibranK Valued Member

    Saru, I was just thanking him and saying that it will come in handy during the trip I plan on taking to Japan in the future; nowhere did I post information

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