Kidneys, Who Needs Those?

Shenzhen - Japanese Restaurant Salt Bowl

Before I went to teach English in Shenzhen, China, I happened upon a satirical video about the traditions of eating in a Japanese restaurant.  Inconveniently, that video swept across my media player after my semester abroad in Tokyo.  What can you do, besides wax famished about those daily searches for good eats.

So then, what does Shenzhen have to do with it?  Generally, Japanese businessmen often tire of merely Japanese snacks.  Specifically, the upper floors of this building.  That’s where the photo was taken.  So then, what am I pointing to?

Salt.  Finally, it was spotted.  Where?  Outside of a Japanese restaurant.  Hmm, that’s what they wanted us to think…considering that ads in the elevator to the restaurant offered “special discounts for people with passports from Japan,” assume that “people” stands for “businessmen” and “with passports” means “with enough money to make a red light city as opposed to a red light district.”

Oh, I apologize for getting carried away.  It was a random find, and because I spoke Japanese, the waitstaff kept bringing free taro ice cream and seaweed stuffed with American cheese.  A friend who was with me at the time (and who was also familiar with the video), delighted in encounter with the mound of salt, also known as 盛塩 morishio.  Why was it there?  I asked the manager, and she didn’t know.  One theory says that it was placed out front by the door sill in the event that your meal wasn’t salty enough.  Other possibilities include a nobleman being present in the restaurant, or that when you pass through the door you’ll be purified.  Fascinating, considering that there’s nothing (and nobody) remotely pure going on beyond those doors.  It could be to bring good luck to the establishment.  Imagine at your own discretion, but please, the next time you reach for a bit of salt, think of your kidneys.

Have you noticed this when you’ve gone out for Japanese food?  Have you taken advantage?


About buildingmybento

Bread, olive oil Waking up in Nakagin Sure does sound like me
This entry was posted in East & Southeast Asia, Food & Drink, Human Nature, Japan and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Kidneys, Who Needs Those?

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  2. OH my. Love this entry – so interesting. My cousin and good friend, Jason, has been an English teacher in Japan forever. Will definitely have to connect you two if interested. Cool photo, too!

    • Thanks for liking my BuildingMyBento posts, Shanna!

      Do you know which part of Japan Jason is teaching in? Is he with the JET program? Have you visited him there?

      From watching this video many years ago, I started to look for bowls of salt in front of Japanese restaurants: Do you think there’s decent sushi in ABQ?

      • Hi! He is in Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka, Japan. He goes by Reins now. He is dating a lovely Japanese girl and is super cool. You can find him here:

        I absolutely do NOT think there is decent sushi in Albuquerque. Fortunately, my brother in law in Germany sent me a sushi making kit! It is one of my favorite foods.

        Checking out the video now, while I make my kids their French toast. Have a great Sunday. 🙂

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