Friday, October 20, 2006

Whale Meat for Lunch???

The school lunches in Japan typically consist of semi-traditional Japanese fare. The students put on a big production of serving it to each other and eating it together in the classroom. Typically one can count on eating rice, some kind of soup, a vegetable, and a piece of meat/fish on most days of the week. Some days they will have a variation with some kind of noodle dish or jelly sandwiches instead of rice.

Some of the teachers pay great attention to what they eat, largely because they aren't crazy about many Japanese foods. They read the school lunch menu, (or have it read too them). I on the other hand, usually enjoy the school lunch, and consider most of it to be fairly nutritious and wholesome grindage, despite its tendency to be quite bland. The curry & rice they serve is often particularly good. I pay little attention to what I'm eating, and often don't even know what it is. While I used to be a very finicky eater, I just couldn't be bothered to care about anything I stuff in my face anymore.

Then yesterday, another English teacher by the name of Christel asked me if I had eaten the lunch on Tuesday. I replied yes, asking why she was curious. She responded that the fish that day, was in fact a large Cetacean mammal! I had heard of Whale meat being served in Japanese lunches, but never actually had the experience of it being served to me.

Many of my environmentalist readers may be familiar with the controversy Japan is in right now, as they conduct "scientific whaling" under the auspices of "research." But everyone knows it winds up in Tokyo supermarkets and on the plates of Middle School Students. The Japanese have begun harvesting Minke whales, much to the displeasure of most of the planet.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, an informed opinion would suggest the Japanese government could certainly make an argument for a carefully managed harvest of certain whale species, assuming a thorough environmental impact study supports such a plan. But what has happened, is that they are killing whales in International waters against the wishes of the rest of the international community, which I find most disturbing. This is surprising, because I find Japanese culture often surpresses the needs of individuals to the needs of the rest of the group. So why then, is the Japanese government as beligerent and thickheaded as it is on the world stage with regards to whaling? I aslo find many people I meet to be concerned about how their country is percieved in the rest of the world, even if that only amounts to how popular sushi is in America.

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