Anti-Korean sign discovered on popular pilgrim trail

Shikoku Henro's first South Korean guide presumed target


A xenophobic notice calling for the exclusion of foreigners was discovered Wednesday on the route of a popular 88-temple walking course known as “Shikoku Henro” on Shikoku.

The sign, found glued at a rest station in the city of Yoshinogawa, Tokushima Prefecture, read, “Let us protect the pilgrimage course from the Koreans.”

“Recently, rude Koreans are sticking unpleasant stickers around Shikoku. To protect Japan’s henro routes, we shall peel them off once we find them,” it said under the name of “Nihon no henro-michi o mamorou kai,” or the Society to Protect Pilgrimage Routes in Japan.

The message is believed to be referring to a campaign initiated by Choi Sang-hee, a 38-year-old South Korean who qualified as a registered Shikoku Henro guide last December. As the first non-Japanese woman to take on the role, she has been involved in a campaign to mark the route with illustrated stickers, ostensibly to keep foreign pilgrims from getting lost.

Choi is also promoting the pilgrimage in South Korea through her website, believing that the experience may lead South Koreans to change their impressions of Japan and transform relations between the two countries.

“I have been doing this for pilgrims and did not expect to be blamed,” Choi said, adding that she had been saddened by the incident.

An official for an organization formed by temples along the pilgrimage route said: “We never accept discrimination. If such signage is found elsewhere, we will stop it.”

  • disqus_Gvs3G32z1K

    Well in addition to that it is asking people to protect the henro from the hands of the Koreans(朝鮮人). It’s not directed at foreigners in general, but it is still racist.

    • KetsuroOu

      Yes, the wording on the sign is quite discriminatory and offensive. The line Chousenjin no te kara, mamorimashou is difficult to read as anything but exclusionary. It may not refer to “all foreigners”, but it certainly refers to “foreign” Koreans.

      The sign is made more offensive if the stickers it asks hikers to peel off are merely meant to guide Korean tourists on the trail.

      Tourists of any nationality do occasionally commit vandalism, but I suspect that rather than any actual stickers with “unpleasant” messages the sign author(s) is simply angered by the presence of the Korean language.

      The rather immature use of the term kimochi warui certainly suggests this.