Owner also claims his store has been “ruined by Chinese people with bad manners.”

House Vader is a candy shop in the Japanese town of Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, and there are a whole bunch of reasons you’d expect it to be a pretty welcoming place. For starters and most obviously, it’s a candy shop, the sort of place young kids like. It also happens to specialize in dagashi, inexpensive but nostalgic munchies that a lot of older people in Japan have a soft spot for.

Add in the fact that House Vader is named after one of the most famous characters in U.S. cinema history, complete with a gold-colored bust of the Star Wars villain above the front door, and you’d probably also figure there’s a good chance that the store is happy to receive visitors from overseas…and maybe it is, just as long as those visitors aren’t Chinese.

Sometime last week, the owner of House Vader posted a handwritten Chinese-language notice outside the entrance to his shop, right next to a window decal of friendly droid duo R2-D2 and C-3PO. The sign, copied from a translation app the owner used, proclaims:

“Chinese people prohibited from entering.”

Barring non-Japanese customers from certain bars and hostess clubs, either explicitly or with soft pressure from the staff, is something that’s been going on in Japan for generations. It’s not at all normal for a candy shop, though, especially one that’s located in one of Japan’s most popular hot spring resort towns, which Hakone is.

▼ Hakone

So why is Vader’s House trying to turn Chinese people away at the door? The notice says it’s “to avoid infection,” and that “I don’t want the virus being spread all over the store,” both references to the coronavirus outbreak that’s occurring in China and has killed at least nine people. Infection can lead to pneumonia, bronchitis, and other serious respiratory diseases.

Obviously, the outbreak is something to be concerned about, especially with the massive amount of Chinese tourism coming into Japan these days. However, it’s not like those tourists are swimming, parachuting, or otherwise unilaterally showing up in Japan. They’re going through official points of entry, such as international airports, which have government-mandated health protocols and screening processes, presumably developed and administered by people with far more knowledge on communicable disease than some dude whose expertise lies in sour gummies and lemon drops.

The Internet being what it is, news of Vader House’s ban has attracted the expected amount of “Yeah! The government shouldn’t let any Chinese people into our country!” At the same time, there’re also Japanese commenters saying Vader House is displaying the kind of suffering-causing fear and hate that eventually consumed the shop’s namesake, especially when the owner has also told reporters “My store has been ruined by Chinese people with bad manners.”

“That’s terrible.”
“The guy’s logic is warped.”
“It sounds like he’s just got a beef with tourists from China.”
“Framing his problems with people’s ethnicity makes it hate speech. Look at how he can’t say ‘If you open your candy in the store, please take your trash home with you’ and instead says ‘My store has been ruined by Chinese people with bad manners.’”

While the legality of the store’s ban is unclear, for the time being the notice appears to still be displayed, though thankfully Hakone has plenty of other places to grab a snack instead.

Source: Asahi Shimbun Digital via Jin, Matome Dane, Twitter
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso

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