Culture Lesson #1

Host Etiquette

When out to dinner, the host orders for the guests.If the host does not order for the table, the guests order what the host orders. The guests eat what is ordered. Period.

Spouse and I visited Japan to have a “look see.” During this visit, we were taken out to the finest sushi restaurant in Tokyo. This particular sushi chef buys the first tuna of the season and pays about $500,000 for the privilege. We were three of 15 people at the sushi bar. Our host, Emporer, ordered on our behalf. The first course was exceptional. Sushi in Japan has no equal.

The second course was served. It came on the beautiful pottery for which Japan is famous. On one side was a small cup. On the other, a snail. I go for the snail first. Not bad. The sushi chef motions that we should drink what is in the cup. I lifted the cup to my mouth to drink. Normally I don’t look in to my glass, however, I couldn’t help but notice the thousands of eyeballs looking up at me as I raised my glass. I decided to dispatch the eyeballs in one swallow. The gelatinous mass refused to go down. I was forced to bite this unblinking ball in half. A cacophony of explosions made me feel that everything in my stomach was now on its way up. In a panic I was afraid I would start the hysterical laughter I’m famous for at the most inappropriate times. I couldn’t look at spouse. He of course had the advantage of being able to open his throat and dump the entire contents in one motion. Years of college beer training had prepared him for this moment. I forced it down. I managed to get the second half down – imagining that all the eyeballs are yelling “no!!!!!” on their way. I was sweating- my face was the color of the tuna sushi by time this ordeal was completed.

The Emporer was a gracious host. He explained many customs that night. A few minutes after he asked- “hey- is there anything you don’t eat?”— well yea- eyeball shooters.

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23 Responses to Culture Lesson #1

  1. LOL! That is grim! I’d love to have proper Japanese sushi but this has made me a little wary of what I else I might come across. Well done for eating it all though!


  2. Your writing is phenomenal. I found you because of the tsunami, but I am reading every single entry. I am in love with your writers’ voice already! 😉

    Nice to meet you.


    • amblerangel says:

      Hi Renee- I actually read your blog- how do you like that? Love reading your stuff and your comments on the other blogs we both follow. For some reason, I just found your comment in the spam section- not sure why. Thanks for the kudos!


  3. Barbara says:

    I, too, found your blog just today when looking for information from people currently in Japan. I, too, am in love with your blog! I love those culture lessons, especially! I look forward to reading more and it’s very nice to “meet” you.


  4. Amy Carson says:

    Me three, found your blog today from a link a friend shared on facebook about your earthquake posts and I’ve started at the beginning and am reading all the way through – amazing stuff! I’m so glad that you and your family are safe!


  5. Michi says:

    Thanks for the link! I’m not by any means a picky eater, but I must say, you are one brave, brave soul.


  6. Lu says:

    eeeuuugh.. there is no way on this planet I could deal with an eyeball in my drink!


  7. A cup full of eyeballs! My stomach is turning just thinking about it! In fact I am still shuddering just writing about it!


  8. I too found your writing enjoyable and as my grandson in very keen to go to Japan one day, I will save your culture lessons for him !
    I think I would have chosen a proper ” faint” to get out of eating the eyeballs!
    Not good protocol I suspect though!!
    My late husband used to travel to Arabia in the 50s and described a meal called ” The Mutton Grab” Not quite as sedate as a Sushi Bar! One sat on the floor on cushions and ripped lamb off the carcasses by hand and the greatest honour bestowed on the visitor, was always sheep eye balls! Yummo!
    I look forward to reading all of your entries as I have just discovered you .. courtesy of Wordblog sending their best blogs for 2011!
    Happy Christmas and New Year to you and your family.


  9. lljf says:

    Eyeball drinks? I’m repulsed yet intrigued by what it may taste like.

    I do apologise for my short comments I am not much of a writer.


  10. Anywhere Home says:

    I’m about to embark on a first trip to Japan in a couple of weeks…must remember to be cautious when offered a glass of something cool and…staring! Love the blog and am reading backwards now to see what other cultural nuances I can learn from you!


  11. holliekrysten says:

    “Well yeah, eyeball shooters.” I died! Hahaha! I’m living in Hong Kong, so I can relate a little. Thanks for ‘liking’ my blog post. It brought me to your neck of the woods! We are actually planning a trip to Japan for Chinese New Year, so I guess I’ll have to read up on your thoughts and experiences.


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