0.52km from City Hall Basement Cafeteria JiroI’m on the second night of a two-night stay at the Area One Hotel in Kushiro, and honestly, I’m looking forward to checking out. I should preface this review by saying I live in Japan, and have lived here for half my life, more than twenty years, and I speak Japanese. On the day of check-in I drove nearly 500 km from Sapporo. The hotel was easy to find, just a few blocks from Kushiro train station. The car park is across the street from the hotel. After driving all day I was happy to arrive. I walked in with my overnight bag, greeted the receptionist in Japanese and gave her my name. The receptionist answered “Passport please.” This is a common question, and a recent development since the tourism boom that began in Japan about ten years ago. In other words, they didn’t used to ask for it. As a permanent resident here, I gave my normal response in Japanese, “I am a permanent resident.” The implication is, “I live here. I don’t carry my passport around with me.” That almost always suffices since she could see my Japan address and credit card details on the computer, had she bothered to look. But, no. She then asked to see my zairyu card, the card issued to foreign residents by the Justice Ministry, something legally only the police and government officials are supposed to be able to request. I refused. She said that the hotel policy was that foreign residents must show this card or she cannot check me in. Now getting angry, I refused again, saying this hotel is the first to ask to see that card and I already pre-paid in full. And I asked to speak to the manager (to whom I was about to give an earful). She said there was no manager today. Instead, I offered to show her my drivers’ license, and did. But, I asked her if she checks the id of her Japanese guests. From staying at hundreds of hotels here, I already know she doesn’t. I’m a foreigner. I must be a criminal. That’s the implication of all of this. I am not a tourist. I live here. I speak, read, and write Japanese. I own property here and am in a high-status position in this society. If you choose to assume I am a criminal simply on the basis of me not looking Japanese, you can expect my reaction to one of anger. Had this been a positive encounter I would have enjoyed this hotel. The rooms are small but clean and comfortable. The walls are thin, and I could hear the guy in the next room snoring. But, the price point for Kushiro was good, and if you’re lucky you may get a quiet stay. But, until this hotel’s policy changes towards foreign residents, I will not stay here again.