Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Japanese Tradition - Sushi

Update 1: I have received an angry email from Atsu Isoda of Asmik Ace Entertainment Inc. in Japan. It seems ridiculous for him and his company to force me remove the video when I am simply linking to it rather than hosting it. (more)

Update 2: Feb. 15, 2006 - I have received a formal apology letter from Mr. Isoda on be half of Asmik Ace Entertainment, Inc. I am glad that we have resolved this issue diplomatically.

The video is also available all over the internet, including
YouTube and various other websites. Enjoy.

Sushi Tuna Quality

I found this humorous etiquette guide on how to properly order and consume Sushi.

There were several occasions during the video, where the English captions are bogus:

1. “Toro is junk food for low income earners.”

2. “Sushi is served on ‘geta’, a popular footware. The geta is sterilized, so it is safe to eat from. Some people then wear them home. This is why many Japanese people’s feet smell of vinegar.”

3. “This is ‘gari’. Nobody knows what it is made from.”

4. “Zohkin are not cleaned after each use.”

5. “Some items on the menu are illegal”, so blame the sushi chef to save your own face after consuming meat from endangered species.

I personally felt this “instructional” video was made as a spoof. None the less, it was very well made and entertaining.

Update: The video was made by Japanese comedy duo 小林賢太郎 and 片桐仁, they are called ラーメンズ (the Rahmens).


  1. Was it a spoof? Yes! The real conundrum is whether Mr Tian is spoofing us by making us believe he is unsure whether it is a spoof.

    If he is not, then the reader can simply enjoy the delights of the original spoof.

    If (as I suspect) he is, then the humble reader can revel in a dazzling display of "nested-spoof".

    This tactic takes years to master and has been impeccably demonstrated here. Mr Tian, I salute you!

  2. Yes, pretty good spoof.

    Man, the way they filmed the video is just to comical to be serious. But I'll tell you one thing. It made me hungry for sushi!

  3. yeah, it was written and produced by a japanese comedy duo (the two main characters) called ラーメンズ (Ramens). my japanese gf found it even funnier than i did (im canadian) which i didnt think was possible.

    unfortuately, they never made any other similar videos.

  4. Yeah, the English subtitles you mentioned are quite accurate to the Japanese, and this video is more humorous to those who understand Japanese culture than those who aren't familiar with it.

  5. That video has long been my favorite piece of Japanese humour, ever...

    Indeed, as someone else pointed out, you must have attempted a nested spoof when asking whether this could really be a spoof.

    Most of the stuff should be fairly obvious dry humour to everybody, non-japanophiles included (exact angle measurement in degrees of how your hand should touch the noren, or how many CC's of shoyu is to be poured...)

    For those who have lived a bit in Japan, though, the whole thing from start to finish makes a hilarious spoof. For the sake of those who may have missed some of the more "obscure" points (I don't think the video was ever meant to be viewed by a western audience originally):

    1) "oh toh toh toh", "mah ma ma ma" is only uttered in particularly backwater places or by geezers old enough to remember the days before electricity. Say that in a sushi-ya once (especially as a foreigner) and you'll get looks ranging from incredulous to hilarious.

    2) 雑巾 (zoukin: duscloth) is most definitely not how you call the ubiquitous white towels people use to clean their hands (おしぼり/oshibori)...

    3) Need I say it: the famous "honne" and "tatemae" concepts of what you say and what you think (in a rough), have little to do with the idea of delegating responsibility for the evil deed of eating protecting species on the cook or blame it on their ignorance of the situation. On the other hand, Japanese have been known to refuse to give up their whale meat snacks despite their status as an endangered species.

    4) The salt you can find outside of most restaurants is meant to keep spirits out, adding it to the end of your meal would be the Japanese equivalent of washing your hands in a baptismal font.

    5) Also: the insistence on explaining everything as a direct result of Samurai culture (「なるほどう、侍の国ですね」= "Indeed, this is a country of samurais") or as a complete mystery (「謎です」) are cheeky references to the ever popular Nihonjiron ("specificities of Japanese culture") answer to about any question.

    This, only to go after the less obvious cultural points of the video, as for the rest, I don't think there is more than a two or three pieces of accurate information in the whole documentary...

  6. Some time ago, I remember seeing another of this Japanese Tradition videos. The story was about how japanese men go under heavy training in order to date and marry a woman.

    The same guys were in it.

    It was hilarious but I haven't been able to find it =(

  7. Humorous? It's hilarious. 3.2" from the bottom of the curtain at a 40-some degree angle? By half way through, it's the most understatedly hilarious thing ever made.

  8. This is a great vid...I love when they show you the angles...

    talk about conformity...its hilarious...the salt???hahaha...

  9. I did a search on Google and the vid that Lux is talking about is called "Kijou no Kuron" and is featured on a DVD with 4 short films called Jam Films 2... I'm having a bit of trouble finding the actual video online though...

  10. Lux...

    I did a google search for "the ramens" and found what looks like a region-2 DVD compilation of Japanese videos that seems to contain the one you mentioned:

    I've never dealt with the company, nor with region-2 DVDs, so I have no idea if it's a good idea to buy it.

  11. FWIW, cdjapan is reputable, albeit a bit expensive (but hey, so are Japanese prices) and I've ordered from them several times before.

  12. Wow... I could not stop laughing...

    My parents own a Japanese restauraunt (but we're Korean >_<) so this was especially hilarious to me.

    The salt bit was especially funny.

    And yes, now I'm hungry for sushi.

    --Angry Georgian

  13. Haha, yes, I loved this thing. My family does the Oh to to to and mah mah mah now as a joke. XD

  14. Oh, how funny. Hilarious because (1.) it sends up how Japane is presented to the rest of the world (and how it is perceived), and more knowingly, (2.) how the Japanese sometimes perceive themselves. What a sharp and observant video -- kudos to the makers!

    As someone who lives in (and loves) Japan, I wish I had access to more Japanese humor like this. Onegai shimasu! : )

  15. What about referring to the sushi chef as "taisho?"