Friday, March 14, 2008

A fine East Asian tradition

that I wouldn't want to disappear.

This morning as I got on the 6:30am train to Kamiyacho, I was pleased to discover that it was only somewhat crowded. The crush was 25-30 minutes away. This meant that I would have enough room to be able to breathe. I was especially aware of this ability to breathe as I was standing next to a slim, attractive, young woman who had obviously indulged in the increasingly popular garlic fest the night before. How pleasant, I thought as I watched the guy with either an allergy or a bad cold sneeze repeatedly. As for the runny nose and his creative use of his hands---well, perhaps he forgot his handkerchief.

About an hour later after a breakfast which I could only hope was prepared by a cook without an allergy or bad cold, I was chatting with a young lady who was telling me about how she was so happy to live in Japan, because (as she had recently read in a "mini-column") Japan has more "nature" than any other country on earth. I damn near barfed in my hands.

At this time of year with the cedar tree pollen allergy so common (due to Japan's "nature" in which bureaucrats decided to cut down huge parts of the natural forest and replace the trees with cedars) as well as during the cold and flu seasons, I truly appreciate the custom of bowing that is traditional in many parts of Asia. Perhaps, as one fine fellow explained to me, it spread because of kind, generous Japan which during its occupation of Korea taught the Koreans how to bow.

I admire this. (The tradition, not the claim that it was taught to other peoples by Japan.) After all, you don't really want to go around fondling the mucous-covered hands of someone. You don't want to shake the hand of someone who just puked into them after hearing the latest nihonjinron.

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