Foreign tourists in Japan are being charged more than locals at some restaurants and attractions

As a record number of Australians head to Japan, some restaurants and tourist attractions have started implementing two-tiered pricing systems for visitors and locals.

Japan's weak currency is attracting tourists in droves, but it's pushing up costs for local businesses.

All-you-can-eat seafood restaurant Tamatebako, located in one of Tokyo's busiest districts Shibuya, is one of the restaurants charging different prices for residents of Japan and tourists.

A note in Japanese at the bottom of the eatery's menu says Japanese residents receive a 1,000-yen ($9.50) discount.

"Regular" pricing for the all-you-can-eat and drink seafood buffet is 8,778 yen ($83), while those with proof of residency in Japan can have the same meal for 7,678 yen ($73).

Restaurant owner Shogo Yonemitsu told the ABC the influx of tourists had forced him to employ English-speaking staff who were paid a slightly higher wage.

He said the price difference also took into account the "extra labour of teaching foreigners the right manners at Japanese restaurants".

Imposing the extra costs created by tourists onto locals would be unfair, he said.

"We have also experienced many tourists cancelling at the last minute, which very few Japanese people do," he said.

Weak Japanese yen

Dragged down by Japan's low inflation and interest rates, the yen has lost about a third of its value compared to the US dollar since 2021.

The currency's weakness has made Japan an attractive destination for travellers.

According to the Japan National Tourism Organisation, the number visiting Japan has surpassed pre-pandemic levels of visitors every month since January of this year.

A record 252,900 Australians travelled to Japan between January and March compared to 172,896 the same period in 2019.

That included 82,000 in March, which was almost double the number in March 2019.

However, the weak yen has also made the price of imports such as food higher, forcing restaurants to either increase prices or cop the costs.

Yonemitsu said the Japanese government had failed to provide any support for restaurants to keep up with demand and increasing costs due to the weakening of the yen.

When asked about the reaction from customers Yonemitsu said, "our customers come knowing our pricing system, so it hasn't caused any issues."

Tourist hotspots' two-tiered pricing

It's not just restaurants that are implementing tiered pricing.

UNESCO World Heritage site Himeji Castle in western Japan is considering quadrupling the entry prices for foreign tourists.

The mayor of Himeji city, Hideyasu Kiyomoto, said in a press conference he supported differential pricing.

"Foreign tourists come here once in their lifetime, but locals enjoy this place regularly," he said.

Japan's iconic Mount Fuji introduced a mandatory 2,000 yen ($19) climbing fee in May, but some have called for the fee to be increased for tourists.

Mountaineer Ken Noguchi said the fee was not high enough to combat over tourism.

"Tourists should pay 30,000 yen ($284), while locals pay 10,000 yen ($95)," Noguchi said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Japanese politicians such as Kenta Izumi also voiced their support for two-tiered pricing.

Stagnant wages

While the weakening of the yen has allowed inbound tourists to be able to spend more in Japan, the country's stagnant wages has meant locals' purchasing power has remained relatively low.

Wages in Japan have barely increased in the past 20 years, with the average minimum wage still only 1,004 yen ($9.52) per hour in 2023, according to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan.

"The two-tiered pricing system could be a way to keep restaurants accessible for locals instead of being priced out," said Garth Lean, a senior lecturer in tourism and heritage studies at Western Sydney University.

"But it might mean that for tourists it becomes a more expensive experience, and they might feel taken advantage of," said Dr Lean.

The Japanese cabinet has released a white paper on tourism to address the growing concerns about over tourism.

It said the government would support increased efforts to create sustainable solutions to the problem.

The Japan National Tourism Organisation told the ABC that "generally speaking, tourists should pay whatever is deemed an appropriate price during their travels in Japan."

 

OTHER NEWS

29 minutes ago

Toxic Warning Issued to Americans Driving in Hot Weather

29 minutes ago

French Alps, Salt Lake City selected to host future Winter Olympics

29 minutes ago

How to watch the Paris Olympics and why the BBC is showing less live coverage

29 minutes ago

French sprinter Sounkamba Sylla says she's barred from the Olympic opening ceremony due to her hijab

29 minutes ago

Time Bandits, review: Horrible Histories meets Bill & Ted in superb family-friendly remake

29 minutes ago

Britain’s army chief warns UK must be ready for war in three years

29 minutes ago

Met Office Wednesday evening weather forecast 24/07/2024

29 minutes ago

The US men's basketball team arrives in France, with its Paris Olympics opener on Sunday

29 minutes ago

‘Stuff the Continent’: The Kent towns abandoned by Eurostar

30 minutes ago

Video: Jeopardy! viewers left tickled over host Ken Jennings' 'great delivery' of cheeky answer: 'He was trying to keep a straight face!'

30 minutes ago

Video: Bethenny Frankel enjoys fun night out with daughter Bryn Hoppy, 14, in Saint-Tropez... before taking a nasty fall that left both her knees bleeding

30 minutes ago

Why the Democratic party still wants to formally select a presidential nominee

30 minutes ago

Adam Pally & Steph Curry Comedy ‘Mr. Throwback’ Sets Premiere Date, Unveils Trailer

30 minutes ago

The Littlefield Company Inks Deal With Chad Gervich To Expand Unscripted Efforts Following ‘War Game’ Docu

30 minutes ago

Elon Musk Says It Was A “Fiction” That He Was Donating $45 Million A Month To Support Donald Trump

30 minutes ago

Grand Theatre in London, Ont. announces new executive director

30 minutes ago

Everything We Know About Superman & Lois Season 4

30 minutes ago

Bucs to wear 'creamsicle' uniforms vs. Falcons in Week 8

30 minutes ago

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan offered Bill Belichick assistant coaching job

30 minutes ago

Vikings bring back fan favorite DB Duke Shelley

30 minutes ago

These Effects Wizards Made ‘Twisters’ a Blast at 4D Showings

30 minutes ago

Steelers RB Najee Harris skips steps, reporters heading into training camp

30 minutes ago

LOOK: Amari Cooper and the Browns arrive back in Berea for start of training camp

30 minutes ago

Fresh Vegetables Sold at Walmart, Kroger Recalled in 18 States Due to Listeria

30 minutes ago

Lennie Briscoe's Character Arc in Law & Order, Explained

30 minutes ago

Patriots make five roster moves ahead of training camp

30 minutes ago

Conroy and Kennedy get Ireland off to winning start at the Olympics

30 minutes ago

WATCH: Zay Flowers creates a magical moment for group of young Ravens fans

30 minutes ago

Bengals' Tee Higgins explains decision to sign tag, avoid holdout: I want to 'win a Super Bowl' in 2024

30 minutes ago

Kaizer Chiefs: PSL rivals planning to raid Amakhosi for FIVE players

30 minutes ago

Where are they now? Rassie Erasmus’ first-ever Springboks matchday 23

30 minutes ago

People Want To Own The Name Tesla, Says RBC's Narayan

30 minutes ago

Trump Shares Letter From Palestinian Leader Abbas Ahead Of Meeting With Netanyahu

30 minutes ago

Ireland vs Zimbabwe LIVE: Cricket score and updates from Zimbabwe in Ireland 2024

30 minutes ago

Blitzboks make nightmare start at Olympics

30 minutes ago

James Carville suggests Kamala Harris is more vulnerable than happy Democrats think: 'Tough sledding ahead'

30 minutes ago

Ja'Marr Chase hates Patrick Mahomes so much he wouldn't even say his name on the NFL's top 100 list

30 minutes ago

Ireland make impressive start to Olympic Sevens campaign with deserved win over South Africa

30 minutes ago

Alouettes place Cody Fajardo on six-game injured list ahead of Riders meeting

30 minutes ago

Weather warning: Cape Town, brace yourself for disruptive rain this weekend

ALONGWALKER VIETNAM: Kênh khám phá trải nghiệm của giới trẻ, thế giới du lịch ALONGWALKER INDONESIA: Saluran untuk mengeksplorasi pengalaman para pemuda global