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It’s the Little Things, Says the Samurai

Whenever foreign visitors step “off the boat” and descend upon the Narita Express (N’EX) at Narita International Airport (NRT), one of the first things they realize, besides the cleanliness of everything, is that Japanese obsess over detail. Whether you notice it at the ticket counter when the female cashier carefully and dutifully tries to explain exactly how to get to your platform, or when you order a snack or drink from the train attendant and she oh-so-carefully presents it to you as if you’d just bought an expensive watch in Switzerland.

Kyoto Temples and Shrine

These observations do not end at the airport or when you exit the train. No, rather, they are just getting warmed up. Everything and I mean EVERY single thing, even a burger at McDonald’s, is prepared, obsessed over, and carefully presented for anyone and everyone. But of course, these cultural norms did not happen overnight, nor were they something that some poorly-combed-over-balding Prime Minister of Japan created in haste after a difficult and extremely long campaign. No, this very special cultural trait has been around for centuries, crafted, obsessed over, fought over, and painstakingly practiced for a very long time (Malcolm Gladwell sighs).

Interestingly, these traits were present during the times when men in Japan were at constant war with one another. When differences were settled at the end of a sword, and time was valued for the lack thereof. Strange to think that practice, obsession, and painstakingly long presentations were of such importance in a time when time was not on one’s side.

The folks over at Rocket News 24 have provided a glimpse into the foods and culinary practices during the Edo Period in Japan—a turbulent and deadly time. Makes you think that maybe paying attention to detail, putting extra pride into your work no matter how small or inconsequential is not just for librarians, but also for warriors.

I particularly liked the “reversed eggs,” and centuries ago would have grabbed a couple and hid them in my satchel for a protein spike on the road to the killing fields…

For more on this story, click here to head over to Rocket News 24.