Have you ever played that drinking game where the loser has to neck large amounts of wasabi while their mates gawp at streaming eyes and nose dribble? Ahh, fun times, eh?!
Wasabi is one of those things that should a foreigner show any degree of acceptance or dexterity in the handling of it, they’ll be lauded with praise from their Japanese hosts. A bit like chop sticks!
There’s only so much kick any human can take from the powerful green stuff though, and the wasabi endurance test was taken too far by a sushi restaurant in Osaka recently.
A brief piece in 47 News today reports on sushi shop 市場ずし / Ichibazushi offering an apology on its website for serving excessive amounts of sushi to a foreigner, because they are/were a foreigner.
According to the restaurant’s management company 藤井食品 / Fuji Shokuhin, a foreigner, who was taken to be from Korea by staff in the Osaka, Ibaragi-shi store, was served a extra large dollop of wasabi in their nigiri (sushi). The customer wasn’t consulted about this, but the staff responsible had had experience with customers from Korea requesting more wasabi so took it upon themselves to do the same again.
An otherwise almost non-incident has found its legs in that best of mediums for stoking the fires of controversy, social-media. It’s even got itself a nice hashtag (because you don’t exist without one these days), わさびテロ / wasabi terror.
A Fuji Shokuhin spokesperson is reported to have said (upon being questioned) that 差別的な意図はなかった / there was no intention to discriminate (against foreign customers). They went on to apologise for causing discomfort to those who aren’t so good with wasabi. A written apology was posted on the restaurant’s web page yesterday.
Something to get upset about? Not sure really. The sweeping generalisation that Korean people like their wasabi, whilst being just that, a sweeping generalisation, does not seem cause for discussion at the high tables of the UN. Are we to take staff to task for assuming that the customer(s) in this case was from Korea? Well, perhaps better to check, but maybe we can find something nice in that they were trying to be even more accommodating.
Is there a slightly heavier undertone here; that of Japan and the Japanese having so much ‘internationalization’ sent their way there's a danger of reducing regular folk to nervous wrecks as they desperately try to appear more cosmopolitan and understanding of the ‘way of the foreigner’. Or maybe this is just a customer service slip.
Share you thoughts? Is this わさびテロ / wasabi terror? Would like our hosts to make more assumptions about how to ‘host’ us, based on where we’re are from?
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Source: 47 NEWS