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The empty orchestra

In Japan it is easy to be misunderstood no matter what language you speak

By Steven Heighton   April 1997

It was our first visit to the house of Mr Fujita Masatomi. It began with a formidably ample meal during which we scandalised our hosts by enjoying raw tuna, then clam, then squid, then (Mrs Fujita having to make a special trip to the kitchen, driven by a sense of baffled desperation and patriotic duty)-several quivering gobbets of raw sea-urchin.

Sensing our hosts’ bewilderment and anxiety I diplomatically confessed that while I could stomach the sea-urchin it was not exactly to my taste. I coughed faintly and covered my mouth, as if politely concealing a grimace of disgust. The day…

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