Tuesday, 18 May 2004

sorry about the delay, trouble at mill.

Japanese Culture at its best

Japan has a long history and a culture to match. Everyone knows this. Every application form I ever read says the person is interested in teaching in Japan because they are interested in the culture (this is, of course, complete nonsense, they are interested in good looking girls and making money (if they are men at least). I was. That's why I came out here. Naturally I put 'Japanese culture' on my application form as well so it just goes to show I am as original as the next man).

So, the long varied history has bred an interesting and diverse culture that is just waiting to be dived into. And luckily for you, I found some great examples this week...

It's snot what you think

Great one this. A sweet manufacturer has had a patent revoked by the Japan patent office this week due to a complaint from Todaiji Temple in Nara. For those not in the know, Todaiji is one of the (if not the) biggest wooden structures in the world and holds a jolly big statue of a Buddha. Nara itself is an old capital of Japan, is a world heritage site and all round spiritual place to be. And has lots of deer. Anyway, the sweet company had been sufficiently awed-inspired by this colossal statue that they had made a sweet in its honour. They are gob-stopper sized, black, and are called...

Buddha Boogers!

What a great name! (for those again not in the know, a booger is the American term for a lump of nasal mucus - haven't you been reading your Calvin & Hobbes?).

Apparently they had been making these sweets for about three years and selling them in local souvenir shops. And very popular they were, apparently. But then some officious monk type person spotted the aforementioned confectionary and, it would appear, took umbrage at the assumption that such an august figure as their Buddha could possibly have a nasal mucus problem. 'Disgraces the image of Nara' apparently, these sweets. Seems to me this attitude does more damage as now everyone thinks worse of the po-faced monks of Nara. Anyway, I also liked the quote from the company spokesman, "We never intended to insult the Buddha statue. We hoped it would be accepted with open minds..." Fat chance, but, luckily, they have no plans to cease production. Orders via email please.

Combat Food

Now anyone who reads any Prattchett will know all about the offensive possibilities of dwarf bread, but now we have better options.

On TV a week or two ago there was, as usual, a programme about how dangerous it is in Japan and this one was all about food and drink. First up was a bit about drinking from plastic (PET) bottles. (PET as in a type of plastic rather than a bottle that is kept as a pet (although I wouldn't put that past some Japanese)). Apparently, if you drink, say, half of the juice directly from a pet bottle, not from a glass after pouring, and then leave the bottle somewhere warm for about a week, it will explode!

No really, and they filmed one to prove it. By all accounts the germs and bacteria in your saliva start eating the juice with relish and gusto and, as a by product, start to fart prodigously. Such is the voraciousness of the bacteria and the volume of their gaseous effluent that the pressure builds and builds in the bottle until BANG! It goes up with no small amount of violence. Quite possibly an environmentally friendly anti-personnel drinks bottle could be developed for the deserts of Iraq...?

But it gets better.

Pickles are very popular in Japan and none more so that Kimchi. Now I realise this is getting into Korean culture, but it was on Japanese TV and that's good enough for me. Kimchi (again for those not in the know, and my, there must be a lot you didn't know but do now) is a Korean pickle made by getting a whole cabbage, bunging it in a pot with a *lot* of chilli, vinegar and other pickle making paraphernalia and then burying it for a year (well, the good stuff anyway). You get the picture.

Now with the explosive pet bottle potential you needed the influence of a bit of saliva to get everything going, but it appears that with Kimchi you don't even need this. So the TV show, again in the best traditions of investigative journalism, put a plastic tub of kimchi on a window sill, rigged up a camera and waited. And in less than 7 days the tub exploded! The tub, which must have weighed half a kilo (that's a pound in old money) leapt about 2 feet in the air, showering everything spicy red goo. Excellent televisual entertainment. Again the TV show said is was due to bacteria in the kimchi which, if left unopened in the jar, begin to ferment and fart out all the gases, leading to the explosive conclusion if the pressure isn't released.

It even works if you leave the kimchi in the fridge, although much more slowly. I, for one, will from now on be checking the sell-by date on my kimchi purchases...

Assignment #2

As you may remember, at the end of March I completed assignment 2 for the mba, the one all about motivation. This was the ironic one as I was completely unmotivated to write it and, although I tried my best, just couldn't really get into it. Well on Saturday I got it back, marked, from the university. Obviously I need to get more unmotivated for my next assignment as number 2 was awarded an 'A'.

I impressed even myself with that one.

And finally

Josh, over at BondiBooks is trying to lose me my job. First, a while back, he found a golf game that was really annoyingly addictive. Now he has found this.


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