Issue Index

  Mini Features
  Cultural Features
  Life in Japan
  Big in Japan
  Rant & Rave
  Cars & Bikes
  Health & Beauty
  Money Talks
  Tokyo Tech
Web Watch
  Food & Drink
  Restaurant Reviews
  Bar Reviews
Word of Mouth
  Travel Features
  Japan Travel
  International Travel
  Tokyo Talk
  In Store
  Japan Beat
  CD Reviews
  In Person

The winter of my dish content

The winter of my dishcontent
Illustration by Marie

I've heard it said over and over how the Japanese pay reverence to four distinct seasons. I've even surprised some people by claiming that the weather in my hometown, New York City, very much resembles that of Tokyo: Cold but little snow in the winter, hot and muggy in the summer, temperate spring and fall.

Eh? is the usual response. You mean, you have four seasons, too?

Well, yes, of course.

Ah, but the Japanese spirit is uniquely attuned to the changes in these seasons.

Bollocks, I say. Case in point: It is, by all external indicators, spring. The calendar says so; the blossoms are blooming; parkas are packed; and the annual mouth mask exhibitions are in full swing. It cannot, however, actually be spring because 7-Eleven is still selling oden. And as anyone worth their shoyu knows, oden is a winter food.

I'll admit that certain out-of-season touches are nice; strawberries in winter, for example. But 7-Eleven oden isn't one of them. It's a primordial muck so dank that life forms once thought to be extinct still inhabit its viscous ooze.

Worse than its appearance, however, is its odor. The 7-Eleven variety of oden exudes an aroma so vile that month-old kitty litter pales in comparison. Once a harbinger of winter, the stench is now a virtual 7-Eleven trademark, an in-your-face, almost physical assault that assails anyone that dares cross the threshold. An aromatic announcement that you have arrived, and that it is winter.

Not any more. If Japanese did truly venerate the distinctions between seasons, someone, somewhere, would make 7-Eleven cease this travesty, this slap in the face to the traditions that many in this country still hold dear. And when that aroma has been defeated, maybe once again people will feel safe to leave their houses without those protective masks.

Many thanks to reader Frank Lee Mift for this Rant.

Metropolis Online
349: Life in the cycle lane
Playing chicken with a ladybike
348: Daisuki na Tokyo
Tokyo's my favorite!
347: Nihongo dake!
Why am I not fluent in Japanese yet?
346: People make the city
The beauty of Tokyo's people
345: Cross Training
Commuting by train in Tokyo
344: Yellow Line Fever
A guide for the blind... and a pain in the neck
343: Welcome to Tokyo
What did you bring me?
342: Positive thinking
Three reasons why we love Japan
341: I'm a rounder...
Veterans of Japan vs. Japan rookies
340: Discard your bank cards
The labour of replacing lost bank cards
339: Shoganai...
It can't be helped
338: Respect your environment
Poluution problem in Tokyo
337: Strike Three - You're Enlightened
How omiyage ruins a vacation
336: Missing manners
No manners outside of Japan
335: Goodbye jitensha
Is stealing bikes a popular pastime in Japan?
334: War of the Words
English borrows from other languages too!
333: ENGLISH ONLY, please
Don't bother writing your name in Japanese
332: A menu carved in stone
No special requests for lunch!
331: The Zen of Looking Busy
The art behind faking work
330: Lyrical Phlegm
Japan's spitting dilemma
329: Rock harder, Japan
Big, bad and ugly concerts
328: Noise Deficiency
The unrelenting quiet that is not Japan
327: Chopstick Diplomat
Constant questioning = constant answering
326: Game over
Cutting off the game for regular scheduled program
325: Grown pains
The hooligan behavior of middle-aged salarymen
324: The Price of Fame
Young teen actors light up on-screen
323: A Customary Affair
The universal language of consumerism
322: Robber barons
JR steals from the rich.. and the poor
321: Tegami Or Not Tegami
Deny the letter to save money
320: The Garbage Men
Variations of the "salaryman"
319: Holidaze
Japan - Home of the lamest holidays in the world
318: Box your ears
Be the karaoke star you've always dreamed of
317: The winter of my discontent
No oden if it's spring please!
316: The Bells
Going insane from bells and voices
315: The Big Tokyo Trash Mystery
No garbage cans + too much garbage= a clean city?
314: The Kamikaze Spirit
The war may be over but the spirit lives on
313: Movie Mania
Laughing alone in the corner
312: Geek parade
What's going on with gaijin men?
311: Gleaming gomi
Rinse it out before you throw it out
310: Lower Mathematics
Teaching practical mathematical equations
309: Escalator clots
Blocking the flow of escalator traffic
308: Sky's the limit
Favorite channel on the hit list
307: Bring on the studmuffins
Thanks to the "Men looking for women"
306: Burning Rubber
Narrowly averting bicycle collisions
305: Fishy Business
The sushi wasn't dead
304: The Invisible Gaijin
When gaijins collide
303: Talk work only
The Japanese perception of idleness
302: From kotatsu, with love
A blanket covered electric coffee table
300: Why 2K?
The millennium bug ain't no big deal

ISSUES 350-381
ISSUES 250-299

ISSUES 233-249