Thursday, June 25, 2009

Japanese like American Food

Source: Slate

The image of Japan as being inhospitable to imports is old, enduring, and not entirely unjustified. The government is offering immigrants from South America—many themselves descendants of Japanese emigrants—$3,000 to return home (the better to free up jobs for native-born Japanese). The vista that meets visitors at Narita Airport is hardly more welcoming: masked staffers, health disclosure forms, and a sign warning that people who are coming in from countries such as Bolivia and Brazil must go in a special line. (They're looking for either soccer players or swine flu.) On the 80-minute ride from Narita Airport to Tokyo, I tried in vain to spot an imported car on the road.

But Japan—Tokyo, at least—isn't uniformly hostile to imports. Though fiercely proud of its many cuisines, Japan is surprisingly open to food-related businesses from overseas. I instantly marked the Subway franchise as the place to turn off the main drag to get to the hotel. An array of recognizable names welcomes visitors to Gaien-Higashi Street: Wolfgang Puck, McDonald's, Outback Steakhouse, the Hard Rock Café (with Hello Kitty playing the guitar in the window). And there's even the ne plus ultra mediocre American cuisine: T.G.I. Friday's. I've traveled about 20 hours and 7,000-odd miles to wind up in a strip mall. Tokyo's SPC (Starbucks per capita) ratio rivals that of Manhattan. And there are also what might be dubbed theoretical imports—faux American brands that exist only outside the United States, such as Bagel & Bagel, which features the ice bagel. (To me that sounds more like a Jewish congregation in Manitoba than something to put some lox on.)


I think the article here is trying to say that even though it seems that the Japanese don't like foreigners but they like foreign food and so that might ease relations and help people learn about each other. I think that's kind of irrelevant. Food is a service and people don't mind other races when they're serving them. People don't really care where the food comes from and sometimes they just want something different.

For example, Chinese takeout is very popular in America. The fact that people like it doesn't mean they like Chinese people. In fact I think it's the opposite. If there were to be a racist American, he would want the Chinese guy to make cheap Chinese food and nothing else. No professionals and no trades people. Just a slave to service. I bet you someone from the KKK wouldn't mind a Chinese guy delivering food to him all the time. But if you take his job from him, he'll whack you.

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