Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Sneeze

Usually, if one has problems with noise from the folks next door, it is because of a loud stereo or TV or a late party or something similar. Years ago, I was temporarily staying in a so-called monthly mansion (a small, flimsy, over-priced monthly apartment) and had a woman next door who stayed up all night banging the floor and arguing with one of the guys who was saying over with her that night. Finally, she stayed up all night moving out and stiffed the owners out of rent---but that's another story.

Anyway, our place is pretty quiet--very much so for a Japanese "mansion." Ours is not so flimsy or small, and I guess not over-priced for the area. The neighbors are quiet, much more so than one often encounters in American apartments.

But then again, there is the sneeze. The typical Japanese sneeze. A sneeze? Couldn't be that bad. But then again, you may not have experience with the Japanese sneeze. There is no attempt to stifle or at least quiet a sneeze. To do so could damage one's eardrums. So one lets it out full volume. One may, or may not, try to cover his/her mouth to prevent the force of the blast from soaking another in slobber. But one does not, ever try to reduce the volumn. Worry about one's own eardrums, but not those of another.

Our neighbor seems to have the very common allergy caused when the Japanese government decided to cut down much of the original forests and replant them with cedar trees. (Tokyo is covered in pollen from those trees this time of year. This is known as Japan's unique love of nature.) So he often goes into sneezing spells of 10-20 in a row. He is in another spasm as I type this. The problem is that they are full blast (I would bet over 90 decibels) and they nearly knock me to the floor, even through the walls. It is actually painful to the ears. Of course, it is much worse on a train when there are no walls to protect me from the near-atomic blast of noise, pressure and snotty slobbers.

Anyway, just another small thing that bothers me more than it should. I should just accept and enjoy the cultural differences. I wish thay everyone could have the experience of being exposed to the Japanese sneeze. Hey, maybe Fujiwara could export it with bushido in order to save the world!

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