Friday, March 25, 2016

On lemons and ladies in the men's bathroom


     Hiroshima is known for its lemons.
     Well, not known here. In the United States we know exactly one thing about the city: atomic bomb dropped there at the end of World War II.
That's it. And I'd wager cash money that a good many Americans, say 20 percent, don't even know that. 
     Heck, I'm being generous. Twenty percent of Americans probably don't know there was a World War II.  (I can't find stats to back that up, but a telephone poll of 1,200 high school students in 2008 found 20 percent could not name a country the United States fought in World War II, which is close enough).
     But once actually in Hiroshima, as I was earlier this month, wandering among its pleasant outdoor shopping arcades, you see they have a big lemon thing going on—Hiroshima is to lemons as Florida is to grapefruit. Enough that I bought a handsome jar of Hiroshima lemon curd at the train station before heading West, where I eventually packed up to leave Japan....


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11 comments:

  1. WRT the North Carolina and Georgia efforts to enact laws which oppress transgenders and gay couples, I too am so tired of the "sincerely held religious belief" mantra used to disguise and justify their reasoning. I don't believe it's actually about religion, I just can't determine if it's fear, ignorance, or something else hiding underneath the mask. Maybe it's just that they're unhappy with their own lives and so don't wish for anyone "different" to be happy either. They feel personally slighted when "those people" get "special" privileges like ordinary human beings (themselves). Very sad.

    SandyK

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  2. I was similarly surprised about the cleaning women in the men's bathroom when I first moved to Japan.

    Although it could be related to status, it could also just be Japanese bathroom culture. Early on in my high school exchange year I was shocked when I was using a urinal and my friend came in, patted my back and struck up a conversation while unzipping his pants. Just the other day I was waiting in a line for the bathroom because two old men were taking their sweet time peeing while carrying on with each other. In Osaka I also witnessed several instances of public urination and was informed that it was a holdover from older times and it was not uncommon to see old men doing it.

    So my impression in general has just been that Japan cares very little about privacy while peeing.

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  3. I had to chuckle, you are right on my friend" "It isn't that liberals aren't afraid—I find both Trump and Ted Cruz fairly terrifying—it's that we don't mistake our fear for divine guidance."

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  4. After getting a shave from a female nurse so that a tube can be inserted in your groin, you tend to lose a bit of your "natural" modesty. So goes it with ideas, none of which, even those we liberals cherish, are sacrosanct and likely to endure forever. A brake on change isn't necessarily awful, but it can be awfully ridiculous sometimes.

    john

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  5. NYC passed a law that I think goes into effect later this year, that requires all single stall public toilets to be gender neutral.
    A simple & equitable solution!

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  6. The headline in my paper was "Better things to do than legislate the loo," from which I expected some disquisition on the fascinating etymology of "loo." A nice rhyming headline, but I expect it was changed because the term, although in common use in the UK, is unfamiliar to many American readers.

    One wonders how the State of North Carolina proposes to enforce the new law. Will there be a force of bathroom inspectors specially trained to recognize potential offenders? And what sex will they be? If female, how might they be shielded from the life-changing horror of having to view those exposed male genitalia when suspects are required to "present arms?"

    One need not go to Japan to experience the bathroom sex meld. A few years back, in the medieval town of Bruges, my wife had to pass behind a line a line of Belgian gents lined up at their urinals in order to reach the ladies facility.

    Tom Evans

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    Replies
    1. Oh, so that's why the fundamentalists blew up all those Belgians!

      john

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    2. Yes. I believe there's something in the Koran about it.

      TE

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  7. Excellent column today Mr. Steinberg! For me, less so as it relates to the Loo issue, and more due to the comments regarding religion. I loved the comment about "sincerely held religious beliefs" and that they simply cannot be allowed as a justification in our culture. The concluding sentence was excellent as well. However, to be absolutely fair, I think that most religions offer "divine guidance" such as an afterlife to assuage fears on the big issues that many of us would otherwise find paralyzing (the unpredictability of life/death).

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  8. I find those hiding behind their religious beliefs as an excuse to discriminate and punish others with the law to be hypocrites. If they truly believe in a wrathful god they should rely upon him to dole out the punishment.

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    Replies
    1. Wendy -- They probably rationalize it by proclaiming they're doing "the Lord's work".

      SandyK

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