Shalom, Japan

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 1996-11-01
  • Publisher: Kensington Pub Corp
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When Shifra Horn traveled across the world from her native Israel to join her diplomat husband in Japan for a five-year stay, East met West in remarkable and often humorous ways. From the surprising conviviality of communal baths to a system of policing neighborhoods that makes Japan's crime rate among the world's lowest...from rituals of courtship and arranged marriages to the festival of the fertility god Kanamara - which includes a lifelike replica of a certain part of his anatomy being paraded through the town of Kawasaki, Shifra Horn's Shalom, Japan captures the many moods and unique spirit of Japan.
A stranger in a strange land, Horn would greet each day with an open mind, a sense of humor, and her own brand of chutzpah. Sharing an Embassy apartment with her husband, her young son and a spoiled Himalayan tomcat, she learned first-hand the rules, restrictions and outright taboos of Japan. In the supremely important art of gift-giving, for example, Horn discovered how the wrong wrapping or ribbons could offend; and how the principle of disposability is crucial in a land that simply has no room for trash.
When it comes to the pleasures of bathing, she discovered, the Japanese know no bounds. And there are onsens or communal baths of many kinds: outdoor baths, beneath a canopy of trees on a starry night; and baths reminiscent of the milk baths of ancient Rome. There are mud baths, coffee baths, tea baths, baths filled with rice wine, and baths where the bather is buried in sand. There are baths on rivers and baths in moving cable cars. Nothing, however, can compare to the shock of diving - literally - into a bath that also includes the men and women of the Yakuza, or Japanese Mafia. Usually a closed event that no Japanese national ever sees, Horn not only participated, she was fortunate to escape with her life!
Horn's informative, delightful anecdotes offer a window into Japanese daily life and culture. There are the charms of the Oxygen Bar - a three-minute breathe-in that costs less than one dollar. And the food! A devout vegetarian, Horn was soon offering students to whom she taught Hebrew her own versions of tahine and hummus, prepared from Japanese ingredients.

Author Biography

Shifra Horn, while in Japan on a state mission, was the General Manager of the Jewish Community Center in Tokyo and taught Hebrew at the Biblical University.

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