Japan:Take nothing for granted  

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

One of the most endearing features of Japanese life for a Westerner is that absolutely nothing can be taken for granted. Food is, of course, probably the first culture-shock people experience here. We are not accustomed to having our dinner arrive still attempting to escape, nor do we share the Japanese enthusiasm for plonking raw egg yolks on everything. But long after these occurrences cease to become remarkable, the country still has the capacity to catch you out with some unexpected cultural roadside bomb.

Take, for example, shower gel. A pretty innocuous household substance, that you would think was fairly universal in its formulation and use. But you’d be wrong, for in Japan they strive constantly to achieve perfection – and those good people at Sea Breeze shower gel are no exception.

Sea Breeze is quite a good name for a shower gel – conjuring up images of bracing sea air, the exhilaration of the briny spray with a hint of wind-swept manliness thrown in. Plus something else: They put bloody menthol in it.

While on the face of it, it doesn’t sound too bad, it’s a different story when Sea Breeze meets the more delicate parts of one’s anatomy. If you’re not expecting it – and why would you be – the sudden warming sensation in the nether regions is an alarming experience.

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