Anyone who has lived in a college town in America has probably experienced walking into a fast food restaurant or coffee shop during exam week to find every table occupied by students with their noses pressed into their textbooks.

While residents may grumble about it from time to time, hoarding a table for long study sessions is more or less a socially accepted practice in America and other Western countries.

However, this is not the case in Japan, where the prevailing view is that customers should leave soon after they finish eating to make room for other people who may want to sit down. Of course, given that Japan has nowhere near the amount of developable land as America, that way of thinking is only natural.

Yet times change and recently more and more Japanese students are choosing eateries as their cramming location of choice.

Students at Kansai Gakuin Univeristy in Hyogo Prefecture are no exception, with the McDonald’s in front of Kōtōen Station being a popular location in particular.

However, controversy erupted earlier this week when the manager of the McDonald’s, with the endorsement of the university, banned students from entering the store during finals week.

Teachers, who were asked to relay the information to students, were informed of the ban by a message posted to the university’s private internet bulletin board on January 16.

The message read as follows:

Title: Regarding the Barring of Students From the Kōtōen Station McDonald’s.

We have received the following message from the manager of the Kōtōen Station McDonald’s:

1. Kansai Gakuin University students are causing an inconvenience to other customers by staying in the store for extended periods of times in order to write reports or study.

2. Some students are causing a disturbance by bringing in outside food and consuming it in the store.
Under these circumstances, we have decided to prohibit Kansai Gakuin University students from entering the store throughout the duration of the testing week (1/16 – 1/28). Please follow these instructions accordingly.

It is both shameful and extremely dishonorable to our school that our students have caused such disturbances to not only the McDonald’s staff but other customers as well. All students should take full care so that no such disturbances shall occur in the future.

The contents of the message were soon leaked onto the internet, sparking commotion over both the misconduct of these students and the severe response taken by the McDonald’s and university.

The message was addressed the next day following a statement issued by the university’s public relations office explaining: “the notice was posted arbitrarily by Student Services staff and does not reflect the official policy of the university.”

Instead of taking the notice down completely, university staff changed the contents to advise students to “observe proper manners” in public, citing that they have receive similar complaints from other businesses in the neighborhood.

McDonald’s Japan also commented on the matter, stating: “We suggested that the students be advised against their behavior. We did not request they be prohibited from entering the store.”

Your translator (American) is also guilty of setting up shop at local restaurants to power through a few hours of studying, both at home and in Japan. While I never thought much of it while in America (I never bring in outside food, of course), I need to remember that in Japanese society, the actions of the individual reflect strongly on the reputation of a community. The last thing I want to do is dishonor myself in Japan.

And really, why would you even want to stay in the store when you could have so much fun with your meal at home?

Source: RocketNews24, Sponichi Annex

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