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Saturday, Sept. 6, 2003


Drawing the line at the gentle bovine

Did you know that there's a dairy farm in Tokyo? Forty bovine residents live in Nerima Ward, where the city grew up around the Koizumi Bokujo diary farm. I myself, would be honored to have mooing neighbors. Especially as opposed to arguing spouses, screaming children and washing machines that start at 5 a.m.

But apparently, some of the cow's neighbors complained saying that, get this, mooing "constitutes noise pollution." I can just imagine what life must be like for these people:

Wife: "Oh no! The next door neighbors are mooing again."

Husband: "As soon as I finish this glass of milk, I'm going down to the city hall to complain."

It amazes me that my fellow humans would find such a natural sound as mooing so intolerable. The Japanese prize the sounds of insects such as the cricket and the cicada. Couldn't we think of cows as big insects? Japanese people even enjoy the sound of frogs. Why not moos?

Besides, bells and whistles propel daily life in Japan -- electric chimes, melodies and announcements, fill the air indoors and outdoors. Yet people don't complain about the high level of synthesized noise pollution we're exposed to on a daily basis. So stop blaming noise pollution on the cows.

I sympathize with the cows. Cows are like foreigners. They're from the countryside. Can you imagine being from a country called "side?" And no one understands their language. Everyone likes their black and white skin. Children point at them and people like to look at them, but no one wants to live next to them.

The cows are just here to work. They work long hours in the factories to provide milk and beef. They're good, honest workers. So what if they don't follow the customs and can't read kanji? But I guess some people don't see it that way. To them, living next to a dairy farm is like having a constant gaijin party next door.

Maybe I sympathize with the cows because I grew up with cow neighbors myself. In Ohio, the farmer next door bought three cows every year. Throughout the year, they'd well, you know, disappear. As a child, I could never quite figure this out. Every day I'd examine the cows' color and form for signs they might be fading away. Then I'd look out one day and one would be gone -- poof! Or so I thought. I had no idea that the neighbor was slaughtering them and storing their frozen body parts in his freezer.

Perhaps the antimooers are just jealous. The cows have access to wide open spaces -- prime real estate -- that the rest of us can only dream of having. Cows are also extremely tolerant of others. Cows don't provoke wars and I've never heard of anything even close to bovine terrorism.

Of course, I probably enjoy animals more than most people. I was once scolded by my mother for bringing my horse inside the house. The only thing keeping me from having a pet cow right now is the tatami mat in my bedroom.

To me, the sounds I hear upon going to sleep and waking up every morning are very important. I could never tolerate waking up to traffic, for example, which is why I live on an island where I fall asleep to fish jumping in the water and I wake up to, um crows pitter-pattering across the tin roof. But hey, it's natural!

And did you know that cows aren't the only ones who moo? I moo. Usually I start mooing after I've had a few drinks but even other times, in broad daylight, I find no better way to relieve stress than by letting out a little moo.

So if cow moos are causing you stress, you know what they say: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

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