Here’s an important discovery I made while visiting my Japanese teacher’s house for dinner.
So, we’re sitting there, doing some small-talk and eating Japanese food made by his wife. We’re 8 people by the table: my Japanese teacher Ishiguro-sensei, his wife, their two children, both under 6 years old, and 4 international students.
At the end of the meal we get some dessert- a very nice and elaborate looking cake with super cool icing. The kids are offered some cake too, but they refuse it politely asking to have some milk instead. The wife brings a bottle of milk and pours half a glass for each kid. Their eyes sparkle. The kids down the milk like an Eastern European downs vodka.
Putting their best puppy-eyes on show, they ask for more milk.
The teacher looks at us, foreign students, curious with the situation, and unwillingly pours a quarter of a glass of milk. He then adds they shouldn’t drink so much milk because it’s bad for them, and swiftly takes the remaining milk away from the kids’ eyes.
Now, what can you learn from this story?
By no means does it mean you can no longer drink milk in Japan and that each time you take that bottle of milk in SAEKI everyone will realise you are indeed, a gaijin.
However, there are some steps you should take to maintain your thoroughly worked upon Japanese identity:
- When you go food shopping, don’t fall into the habit of putting milk as one of the first items into the basket as that reveals you consider it a staple item. It should be something you put in your basket last, as if it were a sinful treat
- If you own a small food store, consider storing milk by the cashier, you know, where the impulsive, hard to resists buys like chocolate are kept. Good marketing practice.
- For god’s sake, do NOT have milk for breakfast (with the exception of holidays)
- Do not consume more than one glass at a time
- Never ask for milk if you’re at someone’s as a guest. It’s like asking for Moet & Chandon (in terms of not every family having it, plus you’d be setting a bad example to their kids)
- Do some research so that you know why milk is so evil. Then you can complain about it to your Japanese friends and/or teach other gaijin the right way. Reading the book “The Lifestyle that Doesn’t Make You Sick” could be helpful (if you run out of reasons, there’s always the golden one of gaijin smelling bad because they consume dairy products)
(And no hot milk with honey before bed, your neighbours are watching you)