What is that smell you ask? You guessed it, only the foulest, most rancid food item to ever be created: filthy, rotten soybeans, or as they say in Japanese, natto. No sweet walnut mochi for me tonight, it is being flavored by natto, which has a peculiar consistency, flavor, and smell--peculiar meaning disgusting. Many Japanese eat natto everyday for breakfast, and some foreign Japanophiles might castigate me for offending it so. When in Rome, right? Well I say stuff the Romans, natto is vile eating. I usually have a rule: when someone offers me something for free, I take it. But when these guys said, "Hey, foreign cameraman, how about some natto mochi?" I replied, "Natto dame desu," loosely meaning, "Hell no."

However, there is no shortage of native borns, and they are lining up for the veritable feast. Natto, popular with almost every Japanese, will continue to be so for the coming future: it is in the top three most popular breakfast foods for children in Japan. Young, old, and red haired hoodlums alike will partake of this natto mochi tonight. I didn't see any vacuum cleaners nearby, though, they must be living dangerously.

Next: Something I won't refuse.

A Japanese New Year

Copyright © 1999 by Ed Kaspar
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