Living With "Kindness" People

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Be afraid. Be VERY afraid. There are "kindness" people everywhere.

Submitted: September 16, 2006

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Submitted: September 16, 2006



I wrote an article recently outlining some of the more common examples of what is known as "Engrish."

"Engrish" alone is not enough to describe life as a foreigner or 'geijin' in the gracious country of Japan.
Being an Australian living in the US, I have found that, whilst there are a few minor differences between the two cultures (read: Help! Somebody help me! I am in Apartment #46 and I am lost somewhere between 24-hour informercials and that crazy Spanish channel) overall we are very similar in a lot of ways. (Read: I know, I know. But on Pamela Anderson, they look so fake!!)

However, Japan is whole new kettle of fish.
A kettle of 'raw' fish I should add.

Some of my epicurean experiences there ranged from the hilarious, to the downright mortifying.

The first thing you should know before you start contemplating any travels, is what to expect as far as your restaurant options.
I happen to like most of the food Japan has to offer, but then again, I also happen to like Vegemite and dill pickles on toast, so you may wish to ignore my recommendations.
Raw fish (sashimi) and raw fish and vinegar rice (sushi) are probably the two most well known dishes that you would find in a decent Japanese restaurant. This particular cuisine has gradually embedded itself into western culture over the years, and by and large, is now quite popular and thought of as a healthy alternative to say, a deep fried sausage coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried again.

This is not of course the only menu item available to the western tourist in Japan.

Absolutely not.

You can savor the taste of fermented bean curd wrapped in rice paper.
This dish really is a culinary marvel. Not only is it good for your waistline, (mainly due to the overpowering stench that hits you as soon as you open it, causing you to pass out on the floor and wake up three days later attached to a saline drip) but it also doubles up as an effective snail killer for your back yard.

The family that I stayed with during the course of my time in Japan, informed me of its awesome snail- eradicating properties just before serving it to me for dinner.

In "Engrish" terms, they are what is known as "kindness people."

So "kindness" were they, that they took me along to experience an authentic Japanese wedding ceremony.
In fact, the "kindness" knew no bounds on this particular day, as they sat me at the groom's family's table.
The groom's family was also very "kindness" to me as they handed me the reception menu first.
I have been to many weddings in my life, and I can honestly say that a 'set menu' is not always a bad thing. You get a choice of one or two meals, and if you don't like either option there is always the drinks waiter.

This wedding was a little different.
The twenty-four courses that ran down the menu like a mini-version of "Gone with the Wind"
told me this.
Also, on this special occasion, because my "kindness" family had sat me with the "kindness" groom's family, I was informed that I had to eat everything on the menu to show how much I appreciated their "kindness."

So, eat it I did.

I ate every single morsel.

I dined graciously on the crab innards and the duck feet. I smiled sweetly as I swallowed the whole, raw scallops and wobbly grey stuff that closely resembled a plate of used condoms.
I waved politely as they handed me a second serving of octopus: legs, head and beak intact. And I showed no sign of hysteria when they announced that due to popular demand, the fried ice-cream would be replaced with red soybeans, mashed with sugar.

These people were just killing me with "kindness" here.

With the end in sight, I fumbled across the table, my stomach telling me that it was one-stop away from "Vomit Central," and grabbed the menu. I was almost there.
One more course and it would be finished. I would be free!
And to top it off, it was something that my besieged digestive system could handle.
Coffee and chocolate...things.
My Japanese was improving all the time, but I couldn't quite make out what the chocolate 'things' were.
Still, it was chocolate!
Not raw, nor fermented. I finally had something from the civilized world.

I found my tongue (which had been busy keeping the previous courses from leaving my body) and started up a conversation with the person next to me as the final assault of the day was placed on the table.
The chocolates looked like mini-eclairs, and I popped one or two of them into my mouth with glee.
The texture was a little crunchy, but I assumed it was something akin to "Rocky Road."
Evidently I must have looked satisfied, as the woman next to me smiled and asked whether Australians ate chocolate grasshoppers for dessert as well.

She was a very "kindness" woman.

It was all over from there, and it was fortunate for the groom's sister that there was a drycleaner in the hotel.

Now, don't let me put you off Japanese cuisine. There are many delicious choices to be had when traveling through Japan, such as Burger King and KFC (and I can tell you the address, phone and fax number for every single one of them from Hokkaido through to Hiroshima.)
Next time, I'll let you in on a few 'hot spots' to visit when you are looking for a taste of Japan's Nightlife." In particular, a little-known secret called "Crub Elvis"- where the motto is "Rub me tender, Rub me Rong!"
And don't forget, next time you are face to face with your enemies, you can simply show them a little kindness.

 That ought to put them out of action for a little bit.

I guarantee it.

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