Japanese Sushi Police Crack Down

Japanese food, and sushi in particular, has become very popular around the world, and inevitably the word has managed to screw it up. So much so, in fact, that many Japanese citizens are coming back from traveling abroad and calling their government with complaints about soggy seaweed, limp noodles and sushi with toppings that are far from traditional.

As Japan is a culture that values its tradition and national identity, the Japanese Agriculture Ministry has responded by putting together a blue ribbon panel of experts and tasking it with evaluating and certifying the world sushi restaurants. The panel is set to unveil its standards for certification by the end of February, and starting next April, inspectors will spread out around the world to give restaurants either the all-important stamp of approval or the dreaded stamp of shame.

Some people think it’s not right for the Japanese government to impose their rigid standards on restaurants in other countries, but I disagree. Perhaps it’s just that I’m more interested in Japanese culture than the average person, but when I go out for sushi, I’m also trying to learn something about Japanese etiquette. Should I ever find myself in Japan, or any other country for that matter, I would like to have some idea what I’m doing so I’m not seen as just another stupid American tourist.

I Want a Cargo Kilt

Over the weekend, I was listening to VPR, and heard a blurb about “cargo skirts”. Now, I’ve been convinced for a long time that women have had it figured out with respect to wearing skirts, and that men have gotten the short end of the stick by being more or less socially prohibited from wearing them.

One might ague that the Scottish have broken through this social barrier with the kilt, but those are made of wool, and I can only imagine that they are scratchy and really not that comfortable. Anyhow, I was happy to learn that someone was finally trying to tear down the male skirt barrier.

The guy who started UtiliKilt, was aparently working on his motorcycle when he dicided that “pants were just too uncomfortable”, and decided to develop a cargo skirt, which he named the UtiliKilt. Apparently, there has been enough interest in his product to turn his idea into a growing company. Here is what they say their mission is:

Mission Statement:
We are committed to pioneering a comfortable alternative to trousers by producing “Men’s Unbifurcated Garments” (MUG’s). Our patented utility design reflects the company’s high standards and integrity. Utilikilts seeks to set a global example, defining “business with a conscience” and channeling company gains and resources back into the community.

I especially like the fact that they are called MUG’s! I say to the American male: Break free from your chains that are pants and wear a MUG!