A British national who had been operating walking guides in Kyoto has claimed he’s had to give up his business and he and his wife are now too scared to go outside following an incident at Yasaka Shrine last month when a member of his tour group allegedly rang a bell too vigorously and slammed it against a fence. Speaking to Richard Lloyd Parry of The Times, Joshua Sherlock, 32, said, “I’m constantly looking through the curtains. I haven’t slept for two weeks. I’m afraid I’ll be attacked by a lynch mob of extreme right-wing people. I love Kyoto, it’s my home, but now I don’t feel safe.” He has reportedly been called a “white pig” and “foreign shit” via email and been told to “go home.”

The Incident at Yasaka Shrine 

Sherlock is being targeted because of an altercation at Yasaka Shrine just over two weeks ago. A woman with the username fujino_ojo posted a video of the disagreement on X. She called Sherlock a “racist” who “lives in Japan and insults Japanese people.” She added, “The group he was a tour guide for was behaving rudely at a shrine, so a local Japanese warned them. He then made insulting remarks to a local woman.” In the video, Sherlock tells the Japanese woman to leave them alone before asking her if she speaks English. She then accuses him of discrimination as the pair continue to exchange heated words in Japanese. One of the members of the group says, “It’s not his fault. I misunderstood and made it too loud,” referring to the ringing of the bell. The video has been viewed more than 33 million times.  

‘No Regrets’ 

According to the article in The Times, Fujino has expressed “no regret for the consequences that her posts have had” on Sherlock and his family. He claims his wife is too afraid to work and that they’ve decided to take their 6-year-old daughter out of school. Fujino, however, has questioned whether it is a fair article. On X, she claims several key points were missing, including allegations that the tour company is not registered and issues the business has had over handling refunds. She also states that Sherlock pretended not to understand Japanese rather than attempting to prevent trouble with a local resident.  

A couple of days after the incident, Yasaka shrine made this announcement: “Out of concern for the safety of all visitors, we will be putting away the main hall’s bell cords from 5 p.m. to 6 a.m. During that time, you may visit and worship as usual, but please be aware that you will not be able to ring the bells.” 

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