Canterbury MP condemns Tokyo Tea Rooms for ‘cultural appropriation’

MP for Canterbury Rosie Duffield took it to Facebook to label Tokyo Tea Rooms as ‘culturally insensitive’ – she also praised the student representatives who stood up against them. 

The new Japanese-themed cocktail bar opened last week. On their launch night, white females dressed up as geishas to meet guests at the door.

The Labour politician penned a Facebook post to express her ‘disappointment’ at the club owners and those supporting the venture.

Tokyo Tea Rooms launch party

Rosie said: “I was disappointed to see that Canterbury’s latest venue; Tokyo Tea Rooms took such a culturally insensitive approach on their opening night last weekend.

“Guests were welcomed into the Japanese-themed nightclub by white hosts wearing kimonos and geisha-style makeup.

‘Crossed the line from cultural appreciation to cultural appropriation’

“By doing this, Tokyo Tearooms owners crossed the line from cultural appreciation to cultural appropriation. I’m disappointed that certain Canterbury City Councillors took part in the evening without calling out this error.

I’m really pleased to see Student representatives from Kent Union and Canterbury Christ Church University have spoken out against the nightclub and discouraged students from attending.”

Student leaders have also criticised the new club for ‘cultural appropriation’ and even branded the establishment as ‘disgusting’.

‘I really hope students collectively boycott this venue’

Vice president of Kent Union at UKC, Omolade Adedapo wrote on her Facebook page:

“We need to discuss how fetishization and mockery of Asian culture has become so commonplace to the extent that some established a whole business based on cultural appropriation and mocking another culture for profit…

“This is actually uncalled for in 2018 and I really hope students collectively boycott this venue.”

Caelan McDonnell, student ambassador of Canterbury Christ Church University is encouraging others to ‘boycott’ the new cocktail bar.

He believes that the business is ‘cultural appropriation at its finest’.

On the review section of Tokyo Tea Room’s Facebook page, Caelen wrote: “Cultural appropriation and yellow face isn’t the best business idea”.

Promotions and marketing manager of the new club, Matthew Jones-Roberts accepted the criticism of the ‘geisha girls’.

Tokyo Tea Room, previously ‘Steinbeck & Shaw’ on St George’s, Canterbury

As a response to the criticism, he penned a response on Facebook to defend Tokyo Team Rooms.

He said: “I think this needs to be put into perspective. Clearly decisions were made that have caused offence. That was not the intention but it has created a positive conversation about cultural appropriation if people are willing to have it.

“Unfortunately a small local business is being attacked and made out to have attacked a culture maliciously which is clearly not the case.”

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Claisse Opulencia

Editor-in-Chief of Unified. Claisse is a third year multimedia journalism student at CCCU. Amnesty Media Award Finalist 2018, IRN Awards Runner-up 2018 and nominated for two SPA Awards 2018.

One thought on “Canterbury MP condemns Tokyo Tea Rooms for ‘cultural appropriation’

  • 25/08/2018 at 3:34 pm

    There’s no such thing as cultural appropriation as you cannot appropriate what cannot be owned and cultures cannot be owned. The concept of cultural appropriation is itself racist, seeking to segregate people on cultural lines, falsely assuming that race and culture are synonymous and indivisible. At worst this has bar pandered to some stereotypes but they’re hardly all that offensive, any more than Japanese men dressed as Beefeaters or Guardsman would be at a ‘London Bar’ in Tokyo. And white geisha paint isn’t yellowface.

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