Reading this book raises the eternal question: if I had to eat sushi all the time, like they do in the book, would I get sick of it? That is a frightening question (sick of sushi???), and one I would love to ask of a Japanese. Unfortunately, I do not know any actual Japanese and in particular, I do not know any actual Japanese who were alive during the 16th century, which is when the story takes place. So I am pretty much shit-out-of-luck. As of two months ago, I do know one Bosnian, though from the current century. I met her when she came to my house with her fiancée for a Shabbat dinner. Unfortunately, she was not able to clear up my question about the sushi. This is not to say that she taught me nothing. From her, I learned two important bits of Bosnian culture: 1) Bosnians are carnivores and 2) Bosnians consider the act of trying to use crumbled up veggie burgers in place of meat in a recipe as twisted and bizarre. In the future, I will not try to feed dairy Mexican food to a Bosnian, a suggestion I would recommend that you take to heart as well.
Yes, yes, yes…I realize that the Bosnian is completely unrelated to this post. But I just felt like sharing so that you would not decide that I was close-minded and provincial. No, I do not know any Japanese, but I do know a Bosnian.
So back to the subject, apart from eating sushi all the time, from this book I have learned that the Japanese use the phrase "so sorry" every third word or so and have an incredible death wish. Every time you turn a page, someone is asking for permission to commit suicide. This reminds me distinctly of the Spanish literature I read in college, in which extremely pious Catholic authors put out such zingers such as "I am dying because I am not dying". Based on said literary excursions, I have concluded that the key difference between the Spaniards and the Japanese apart from that 1) I know an actual Spaniard and that 2) the Spaniards may have better food (I mean, I like sushi, but every meal?), is that the Japanese are a lot more proactive in achieving their goals. The Spaniards are mooning about, writing flowery poems and waiting for G-d to take them away (rather like Calgon, but fatal). The Japanese, on the other hand, are proactive. They are sharpening their swords, and asking their liege lords for permission to commit seppuku at every opportunity. With that level of go-getting-ness, it comes as no surprise to me that modern Japan has become an economic powerhouse and modern Spain has been invaded by British retirees, rather like Raanana and Jerusalem. Unlike Israel however—and this is something I have picked up on from the actual Spaniard—Spain has much better fashion sense than we do here. Not that this is saying much.
I suppose that I could read some actual reference books or websites on Spain or Japan and I will, just as soon as the mother ship commands it. Right now I think they are really busy with the election.