S#98: Embrace Another Culture

PS Part of this article was moved here, where I get paid for it if you click through.

I’ll be embracing Japan for twenty-four hours. This is everything I know about Japan so far:

1. Sashimi is yuck and makes me feel sick (which should make S#2: “Sushi” rather interesting) but most anime is very good.

2. Whales are hunted, killed, and eaten.

3. Konichiwa, sayonara, arigato, mitsubishi (hello, farewell, thank you, three diamonds).

4. Japan is a rich country with wacky game shows, heated toilet seats, bizarre vending machines and odd inventions (including a functioning breast for fathers to strap on so they don’t miss out on the breastfeeding experience).

5. They have a bad history with China, although their languages are visually similar (not aurally).

6. It is on a major fault line, which means there’s lots of earthquakes, volcanoes, and dramatic scenery (including Mount Fuji).

————————————————————————-

I’m going to go and do some research, visit a Japanese restaurant for dinner, and write the rest of this entry later!

———–LATER————–

Things I’ve learnt:

1. ヤクおよびあなたバナナの臭いである

Means, “You are a yak and you smell of bananas.”

2. It is rude to blow your nose in public.

3. Japanese pizza can have mayonnaise, corn and seafood on it.

4. The “Walk” signs at traffic lights make a chirping noise so the blind know when to cross.

5. People sleep as they ride the train home.

All but fact #1 are from this patently unreliable site: http://www.tooter4kids.com/Japan/interesting_facts.htm

For dinner I attended a birthday party at Shogun Teppanyaki restaurant in civic. To be honest, I was dreading it. I like Japanese style, though, especially in restaurants.

We all had teppanyaki banquets, which I reviewed for money here.

At a certain point when we were enjoying the show so much that we were feeling completely relaxed, the cook threw food at us, which we attempted to catch in our mouths. CJ is first, then me.

Mmm. . .It cost $85 altogether, for both of us.

I’m just about to watch a Kurosawa movie. This has been quite an epic 24 hours.

—————————————–

I also watched the Japan episode of Charley Boorman’s “Sydney to Tokyo By Any Means” series today, and quickly realised I’d forgotten something I already knew about Japan. In fact, you know it too.

Japan is the country that was hit twice by atomic bombs. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people were killed in the first seconds, and burns and radiation killed many more in the decades that followed.

In the DVD, a woman talked about her experience of the bomb. She described an intense blast of light followed by utter quiet, then darkness and the smell of burnt hair. At the time of the Hiroshima bomb, she was eight years old.

Since childhood I’ve been taught about the national shame of what non-Aboriginal Australia did to the original inhabitants of my country. But no-one ever taught me to feel ashamed of what my side – the “good guys” of World War 2 – did to Japan. Millions of Japanese people are still alive today with the memory of those days. How is it possible for me to forget so easily? It’s because of the Japanese – they don’t want or need my help, my money, or my pity. In the healthiest possible way, they’re over it.

My impression of Japan is that it is a beautiful, hyper-efficient, hyper-bizarre country with unstomachable food and a toilet obsession. That hasn’t changed. I chose Japan for this task because I have absolutely no desire to go there. But when I consider what this strong, powerful, reasonably happy country has survived, I want to know how. How are they okay? How have they managed to find the perfect balance – remembering what has happened without any rancour?

I’ve never thought of the Japanese people as the most forgiving people in the world, but that is the inescapable conclusion.

Japan, you are my hero. (And I LOVE teppanyaki.)

Tomorrow’s awesomeness: Sewing.

Like the boys from “Top Gear” I myself am ambitious, but rubbish. Wish me luck.

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