Japan was exotic, and it could also be insular and xenophobic. When foreigners stayed out past midnight, after the subways in Tokyo closed, they risked being unable to get a cab home. I was once out carousing into the morning hours with a couple of friends from Japan’s Ministry of Finance — the élite among Japan’s powerful bureaucrats — when we tried to flag a taxi. I told my friends no driver would stop unless I hid in the shadow of a nearby building. “No, that’s not true,” one of them protested. I hid, and within seconds a cab pulled up for my Japanese companions. I jumped into the backseat, much to the dismay of the cabbie. My buddy expressed shock. “What a racist country we are,” he muttered. I laughed. This wasn’t racism, it was capitalism. Cab drivers assumed a foreigner wasn’t going very far, whereas the average salaryman lived some distance from the center of town, guaranteeing a big fare. Like everything during the bubble, it was all about the money.
Interesting anecdote in a Time’s article about “Japan, After The Bubble”: