|Advertising|Jobs 転職|Shukan ST|JT Weekly|Book Club|JT Women|Study in Japan|Times Coupon|Subscribe 新聞購読申込|
|Home > Life in Japan > Features|
Saturday, Jan. 12, 2008
There's something fishy going on here
By AMY CHAVEZ
When people think of Japan, most of them think of raw fish and sushi. But Japan is much fishier than that. Fish is a part of the national conscience. Deep down, Japanese people are obsessed with fish, which must come from a diet of seafood. After all, you are what you eat.
While Westerners seem to have originated from big-nosed apes, the Japanese seem to have come from different stock, since it is said that all life forms originated in the sea, and from there we went on to become apes and homo sapiens. But the Japanese were smarter than that and skipped the ape stage. They went straight to being Japanese. It seems quite likely that the ancestors of the Japanese are fish.
Just look at their lean, fluid bodies and how gracefully they move. They are weightless and supple, while Westerners are large and chunky (OK, at least I am). The women don't have the big lumbering hips that I have either, which helps them glide through a sea of people with ease.
Some people think the Japanese are a bit rigid in their posture and demeanor. They don't tend to use big hand gestures or stand with their hands on their hips. I think it is because they conform more to the structure of their ancestors.
Not convinced that Japanese people descended from fish? What about their love of seaweed, their habit of sitting in a bath full of water, or their use of aquarium decorations on the back of the toilet tank, eh? What about the public bath and the onsen, really just large ponds for bathing? And what about boys being represented as fish on carp streamers on Children's Day? Eh? Eh? See what I mean? Fish rule!
The Japanese have always been crazy about education and schools. There is swimming school, calligraphy school and language school. Like fish, the Japanese even travel in schools. Kids go to high school in schools and they attend after-school schools. Real groupers they are!
It explains a lot of things about Japan, such as the popularity of The Little Mermaid and the ornamental koi fish found in garden ponds. This is also probably why the Japanese drink like a fish.
Schooling starts very young in Japan. While children in the U.S. are brought up with plastic farm animals, the Japanese children grow up with plastic sea animals.
While many Japanese children have never seen a real cow, many American children have never seen a real octopus, let alone an octopus playing the piano, the way they are depicted in coloring books in my country. I suspect, however, that octopus can't play the piano. I mean, think about it. Yes, the octopus has eight legs, but I've never heard of someone playing the piano with their legs. But then again, maybe a Japanese octopus could. What would I know about sea animals?
In my country they take the cows to market. In Japan, they take the fish to the Tsukiji fish market. While many Americans may have rifles in their homes for hunting deer or rabbits to eat, Japanese households have fishing poles to catch fish to eat.
And on the island where I live, a goldfish is the bank's mascot and the fishermen name their boats after their first sons. Can you imagine going through your whole life as a boat?
Japanese have special words in their language like isshin-denshin, which is the way of understanding another person's thoughts without speaking. Exactly like dolphins do. And since dolphins swim in pods, it is no wonder that the iPod is so popular in Japan.
If you're still not convinced the Japanese descended directly from fish, then consider this. The Japanese eat all the fish in the sea, from the lowly sea cucumber living on the bottom to the largest creature of all, the whale. The average Japanese person, who is about the size of a giant tuna, might not have survived in the sea where the bigger fish would have eaten him. So, the Japanese adapted to land. Now they are at the top of the seafood chain.