Japan’s Top Novelist Frowns on Western Etiquette, Says Slurping of Soup Okay
|An Atlanta Georgia ramen restaurant display to order one’s soup from|
TOKYO, Jan. 1 — Slurp your soup and prove you are no social sheep. So advises Yukio Mishima, one of Japan’s most popular postwar novelists. “Amidst a quiet first class restaurant,” Mishima admits, “it requires social courage.” The 33-year old author frowns on efforts-to cram Western table manners down Japanese throats. “Never to make noise when you have soup,” he argues, “is to force Western etiquette on the Japanese who have been used to noisily slurping soybean soup and tea since childhood.” And girls, he argues, are too easily influenced by books on superficial etiquette.
He quotes a confession appearing in a women’s magazine: “The first time I went out with him to dine, my boy friend started sipping soup with the ‘z-z-zhu’ sound as if he were swallowing a bowl of noodles down his throat. Instantly I felt sick physiologically . . . since then I’ve had no affection for him.” Mishima says such confessions usually appear in women’s magazines under special subjects as “Delicacy of Love Psychology.” “This kind of women’s psychology has nothing to do with feminine delicacy but rather with vanity,” he says. “What is elegant is what is decided by the greater numbers of a society.” – Shin Nichibei, 1959
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