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Thursday, July 21, 2016

In Japan, Work Can Kill You

Talk about irony.

It’s like a writer being allergic to words, except this is a real thing.

The owner of a 113-year-old soba restaurant called Maruka, located in Uchi-Kanda in Tokyo has closed its doors after informing its loyal customers that he couldn’t keep it open owing to an allergy to buckwheat, the main ingredient in soba noodles.

Posted on Twitter last week by @Ki_46ozzie (who bizarrely has a background image of some wacky North Koreans - see HERE, a poster (see above) from the owner describes the sad plight:

“To all our customers who have provided us with their patronage over the years since 1903 in the Kanda area, a long period of time which spans 113 years, we would like to express our deep gratitude from the bottom of our hearts. We sincerely thank you.”

I’ve never heard of a buckwheat allergy, and it’s rare outside of Japan and Korea, but buckwheat, despite its name, is not related to wheat, instead more closely related to sorrel and rhubarb (talk amongst yourselves).

Just like others with severe food allergies, if someone allergic to buckwheat comes into contact with it—they can die.

While I applaud the shop’s owner for his decision—hey, Japan! you don’t have to die for work!—I wonder why the business wasn’t passed over to a relative or a chef looking for work? Or sold, even.

One could still own a business and not have to do all of the purchasing of buckwheat or making of oodles of noodles!

Oh well… too late now.

Andrew Joseph
PS: In television or movies, when one is a background or "extra", to provide a low-level added impact of talking, one can simply mutter the words "rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarb".  It helps create a loud crowd buzz. The director will tell if that needs to be done.
PPS: You guys know actors John Goodman and Bette Midler were in a movie of mine called Stella, right? I pop up a few times in a bar scene, most notably around the 42+ minute mark—no really—where I'm drinking a beer in a smokey dance saloon/bar, and later dancing with an incredible sexy young woman in a leopard skin print dress. She had beautiful long dark brown wavy hair  - but was soooooo short even in her three-inch heels that you can't see her in the shot, so it looks like I am dancing by myself right behind Midler and some other guy.
I did this in 1989 while I was still in journalism school to make a few bucks, the year before I went to Japan on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme.  
I'm pretty sure I stared right at the camera for a second. D'oh. But I made the print.

That's me right in the middle! I believe I was wearing construction boots, worn blue jeans, and a Jim Morrison tee shirt to look all blue-collar-like. I refused to wear plaid, even though it was a suggestion by the talent agency because I figured EVERYONE would wear plaid. I was darn near correct. Good thing I took off my jean jacket earlier. No soba was hurt during the filming of this scene, though I was offered the choice of a real of fake beer to have on my table in another scene. Guess what I chose? It was a wheat beer, shot at the old Silver Dollar Saloon in Toronto.

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