Japanese TV Show Mocking Scottish Ramen and Sushi Restaurant Exposed As Fake

Japan Trends
This post was originally published on Japan Trends.

As Japan deals with a massive rise in inbound tourism, a rather ugly side to the country’s popular culture is rearing its head. Part of this is due to pure ignorance and part is an ingrained belief among many—especially the movers and shakers of the entertainment world—that Japanese culture is “unique” and “superior”. While the so-called nihonjinron (“theory of the Japanese”) has thankfully lost a lot of its academic kudos in the past few decades, it still holds a lot of sway in mainstream minds.

So some Japanese people are astonished to learn that Japan is not the only place with four seasons or that people outside Japan can also use chopsticks.

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We have seen a large increase in TV shows focused on how non-Japanese view Japan, often edited or produced to show Japan in a positive light, and/or non-Japanese attempts to replicate Japan in a negative way.

The recent edition of TBS show “Bukkomi Japanese”, broadcast on December 29th, was a prime example, ostensibly showing “Fake Japan” from around the world.


One of the places it highlighted was a small Japanese restaurant in Edinburgh. It proceeded to intone in melodramatic narration how crazy this establishment was. The dishes they serve at Maki & Ramen Sushi Bar are not correct Japanese cuisine and the prices are far too expensive. For crying out loud, they serve ramen with whisky and other wacky local variants! They even serve Korean-made instant noodles to innocent paying customers!

There was just one problem. It wasn’t true.

Maki & Ramen Sushi Bar is a genuine ramen restaurant that also sells sushi—okay, that in itself is an unusual combination but there are countless types of wacky and innovative ramen and sushi restaurants in Japan too—and what was shown on the TV program was essentially done for entertainment purposes at the specific requests of the director.


The owner and head chef, Teddy Lee, found out how they had been presented and responded with posts on Facebook (since deleted). In the posts they explained how they were asked by the director to use instant noodles and a certain sauce—none of which they normally use. In fact, they say, their ramen dishes are cheaper than the standard because they are in a student area. The dishes like “breakfast ramen” and ingredients like whisky were all added at the behest of the Japanese TV crew in order to make what they were told was a comedic piece of entertainment with some local Scottish touches.

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Little did they know that they were being used as part of a pseudo-documentary report about a “fake ramen” restaurant.

The issue here, though, is not just that television (Japanese or otherwise) exploits and deceives people. The issue is one of misunderstanding. Even if Maki & Ramen Sushi Bar had been serving whisky with ramen, that would not have been “wrong”.

When any culture and food travels, it changes. And so you get California roll or the curries that many British people happily consume thinking they hail from the Indian subcontinent.

This happens in Japan too, as any trip to a foreign cuisine restaurant will reveal. More often than not, the menu choice and ingredients are adapted to local tastes. It’s a natural and positive part of appropriation and diffusion. It should not be mocked as “fake” or inadequate by any party. This is the same kind of discrimination that creoles and pidgins faced to receive recognition as linguistically valid, not to mention hyphenated cultural identity in general.

Japanese TV already has a reputation for producing badly acted, cheap-looking drama, as well as wacky game shows and news coverage that frequently overlooks what’s most important. Now it is also gaining a reputation for racial discrimination that can only harm Japan’s global standing. Along with the surprisingly common use of quaintly racist motifs in advertising by major corporations like Toshiba and ANA, Japanese TV needs to grow up fast in terms of the way it views non-Japanese culture. Otherwise visitors to Tokyo are going to get a shock in 2020 when they turn on the television in their hotel room.

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24 Responses to “Japanese TV Show Mocking Scottish Ramen and Sushi Restaurant Exposed As Fake”

  1. The Original Nerv

    Well, Japan Trends at least attributed it to a name (William), whereas your site couldn’t even be bothered to read that far before copying and pasting (AKA: stealing) this content. Have a nice day!

    • CheapoGreg

      Hello there, This article is republished with the permission of William and Japan Trends. William is the editor and main contributor. You’ll also find our content published with permission on Japan Trends. We have experienced unauthorised publication and translation of our content on other sites though, so if you see anything suspicious, please do let us know.

      • The Original Nerv

        Glad to hear you are being ethical about it. I suppose I’m a bit over-sensitive about web sites which steal content and present it as their own. I guess I missed the attribution at the top of the page. Sorry about that!

  2. Ayn Randall

    “Japanese TV already has a reputation for producing badly acted, cheap-looking drama, as well as wacky game shows and news coverage that frequently overlooks what’s most important. Now it is also gaining a reputation for racial discrimination that can only harm Japan’s global standing. Along with the surprisingly common use of quaintly racist motifs in advertising by major corporations likeToshiba and ANA, Japanese TV needs to grow up fast in terms of the way it views non-Japanese culture. ”

    Likewise, when any form of entertainment travels, it changes. More often than not, the quality of acting and narratives are adapted to local tastes and viewpoints. It’s a natural and positive part of appropriation and diffusion. It should not be mocked as “cheap” or “racist” by any party. This is the same kind of discrimination that Muslims face to receive recognition as members of a progressive faith, not to mention hyphenated cultural identity in general.

    The author of this article should seriously check his White, Western Imperialist privilege before being given any sort of platform in the future.

    • CheapoGreg

      I’m not sure of the author’s race as I’ve never met him in person. It’s a statement of opinion but I’m not sure how calling out a show as racist is mocking. Adjectives like “weird” and “bizarre” are often rolled out to mock Japanese culture but racist seems like a fairly reasonable description for a show that highlights how foreign restaurants are producing “fake” Japanese food. Put it in any other context and it would be the same. The ‘cheap’ description is subjective but the author has been observing this for a very long time so his frame of reference doesn’t need to be cross cultural.

      • Ayn Randall

        You seem to be unaware that racism= power + discrimination. Whilst steps have been taken to make Scotland a more diverse and vibrant place, such as allowing more asylum seekers into the country, she remains a largely white country, with White comprising 96% of the country. Asians have been oppressed by Whites over centuries by means of colonialisation and violence, as can be seen in the events of the Opium War, Vietnam and Korean Wars, and the detonation of the only two nuclear weapons ever used in war over Japan. So no, putting it in any other context will not necessarily result in the same outcome, as it is impossible for non-whites to be racist against Whites. The racism of the author is further highlighted by his description of the show as ‘cheap’, and his position as a long-time observer of Asian media makes it worse, as the indigenous media of other cultures are not meant to be observed by whites for entertainment value like fossil fuel deposits being prospected by racist, Climate Science-denying, misogynistic cishet white male engineers seeking to extract as much Earth-destroying black liquid out of the ground as possible. In fact, this particular show was highlighting the very same type of problematic cultural appropriation and fetishisation of Japanese culture rampant in much of the Western world.

        • CheapoGreg

          Incoherent much? How about non-whites versus slightly off white or perhaps light beige? Do you have any life experience in Japan? Foreigners of all shades (white is just a construct right?) face discrimination in Japan and for you to say it isn’t a problem for them because of, you know, opium wars, is ignorant and callous.

          • I think this is a troll or parody of a Social Justice Warrior. The comment is too scripted and a word from word parody especially the “racism= power + discrimination” bit. But then again as well sometimes it really hard to tell a parody from a actual person.

          • Ayn Randall

            Well I’m sorry not sorry that you’ve heard the truth so many times that you think it sounds scripted, but the very fact that you think that I sound like a troll just for stating that Whites can’t suffer racism even though it’s already 2016 just goes to show why social justice education should be made compulsory in all schools.

          • Jerrod Melcher

            You do realize Japan’s history, right? Let’s not forget about China while we are at it too. These are just two examples of “Asian cultures” That have happened to systematically oppress their own people, as well as the people of surrounding regions for thousands of years.
            Simply implying that whites are the only people that can be racist is redundant and absurd.
            You liberal SJWs are so racist that its painful. You feel you’re doing cultures a favor when you refer to them as things such as “People of color”? You lump all ethnicities together in one group, failing to recognize that each of these groups have their own voice and frequently are heard, and are as diverse as the next. You would lump them in together as being the same. If you actually bothered to study any sort of history, even the history written by other cultures(That way, you know, you’re not being indoctrinated by the white patriarchy), you would see that every culture has events that they aren’t proud of, but they live and learn.

            Society as a whole as come a long way in the last few hundred years. We’ve changed many things for the better, and by we I mean humankind as a whole. We as a whole are still moving forward and learning from the past. You people spread hate and misinfornation to further a cause and shut out people with differing opinions so your feels don’t get hurt, or because someone might be “triggered” by something that makes them think. While you are entitled to your own opinion(and that is all your ramblings about this are, your opinion and not fact), sit back and realize that the world isn’t as cut and dry as you’d like it to be.

            tl;dr You’re opinions are shit. They’re fucking shit.

          • Ayn Randall

            To answer your first question, yes I do have experience living in Japan, not that it is any of your business, and to be honest, it’s kinda creepy that you care. As I mentioned before, racism=power+discrimination. Whites may be facing discrimination in university entry criteria due to affirmative action policies designed to help other minorities, but that is not considered racism, because Whites are the keyholders of institutionalised racism, and AA is but one of the first steps of a revolution against the monolith of the White Patriarchy spearheaded by the proletariat of ethnic minorities. Therefore other minorities may be facing oppression in Japan, but Whites in particular possess power and a history of invasion, oppression and outright nuclear warfare against Japan(which I see you chose to ignore by mentioning the opium war instead), and thus cannot experience racism. Your claiming otherwise shows your privilege and your ignorance of race relations and social justice, and I suggest that you spend some time on tumblr and take some university classes in feminist and race studies to educate yourself on the role of toxic white supremacy in almost all the ills of the world.

          • Neil Knuth

            Unbelievable. Unless YOU are a white person living in Japan, which I highly doubt you are, would you really know if they experience racism here? Do you even see how that make NO sense, because for it to be true, the Japanese would have to include whites and other non-Japanese into every part of their culture without prejudice. The exact opposite is true. Even with that said, the Japanese are highly socially conscious and polite, and when they do exclude non-Japanese it is done to save face or embarrassment in such a way as to be as vague and non confrontational as possible about it. But, it does still happen here, as it does in all countries with a strong national identity to one particular culture. As for the bombing in WWII, are you kidding? A strong arguement can should have been a military target versus a civilian one, but it was done in purpose to end a war. It had nothing to do with race aggression. Take the self serving emotion out of your post and instead back your points based on first hand experience if you dont want to further continue to come across as a troll here.

          • Jerrod Melcher

            He isn’t going to reply to reason and logic, so either he is one of the SJW’s, or he is , infact, a troll. I consider them to be one in the same though myself.

          • Ayn Randall

            My preferred pronouns are xe/xir/xirself, thank you. And if the outrageously bigoted diatribes posted by other commenters here is what passes as reason and logic, then it’s no wonder that institutional racism is omnipresent in universities and other places of higher education.

            : Oh dear delete by the mod.

            Mod edit:
            You know I can edit your comments right? Your email address and IP aren’t a secret so it’s rather simple to work out that you’re a bored libertarian troll. I was doing you a favour by not deleting/blocking you completely. If you don’t like me erasing your edits, you’ll just have to delete your whole comment then won’t you.
            Also, quite hilariously, you deleted the blatant give away subscriptions about “3rd wave feminists don’t consider men as humans” or something. Sayonara!

          • CheapoGreg

            Nice trolling. Your YouTube subscriptions say it all. Knob.

          • CheapoGreg

            Yep. Troll. No more feeding!

          • Ayn Randall

            “First hand experience”? You mean the vague and subjective epistemology frequently clouded by false consciousness that allows White Supremacists to conclude that all persons of African American descent are criminals due to one or two isolated incidents involving PoC that they have personally encountered? No thanks.

        • This is where you demonstrate your own obvious ignorance. Racism =/= power + discrimination. That is systemic or institutional racism, a form and appended definition of racism.

          The best part is that, even with your bastardized definition of racism, the actions of this network would still be racist. The Japanese hold the institutional power in their country, which is where these shows are being aired and these attitudes perpetuated. If you’re going to be ridiculously authoritarian, try not to contradict yourself.

        • “You seem to be unaware that racism= power + discrimination.” Honey, You seem to be unaware that english is a white person language and white people get to decide the meaning of words and racism as an english word is universally understood by white people to mean a belief in in racial theory or discrimination based on race. It doesn’t matter who the persons involved are from the leader of the free world to the poorest most destitute orphan, their colour doesnt matter, only their words and deeds. If you don’t like this you are more than welcome to adopt a language that better suits your ideology. Also even using your ridiculous definition of racism, there is no simple formula for determining who has power, you would have to be an asinine fool to assume a white person has more privilege in japan than a native japanese person. As for Scotland, why on earth should it be expected to be flooded with foreigners? Any foreigners it does take should be out of the goodness of the hearts of the scots and not because people like you demand diversity quotas.

          • CheapoGreg

            Ayn Randall is a troll – “Ayn Rand” FFS. He’s just a bored rich kid doing the SJW schtick.

    • CheapoGreg

      As a completely irrelevant aside, ‘progressive faith’ is an oxymoron!

      • Ayn Randall

        Islamophobic much?

        • CheapoGreg

          You missed my point. I discriminate equally against all religions, except the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. They’re actually quite progressive.

  3. Brian O'Connell

    Looking at Japanese hamburgers and pizza, leads me to believe they aren’t exactly innocent of adding a “local twist” to foreign cuisine either.

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