As I read the chapter about japanese diet in the book “Les Japonais” by Karyn Poupée, I decided it was important to learn the kanji meaning “whale” or Kijura (in romaji): the kanji should be pronouncing, I think gei . In all dishes that may contain fish, I’ll track down this kanji, to avoid taking the products that contain whale’s meat and avoid eating it in restaurants.
“In Rome, do as the Romans do”, no doubt, but just to a certain point.
It would be a lie to say I am a strict vegetarian, because I eat very occasionally some fish (sushi and pasta with anchovies by Xim) and, even more rarely, meat. The whale, however, with the bluefin tuna, is on my list of forbidden foods. Because protected and because threatened.
Eating whale is a cultural thing for Japanese. It’s like the foie gras on the table for Christmas for French people or roast beef on Sunday .
Like any cultural construction, it can (could) be deconstructed, of course. But who am I to say to the Japanese what is right and what is wrong? Eating whale is in my eyes an ecological nonsense, but habit change can only come from the Japanese themselves. Keeping traditions are not always good (we could talk all night long about bullfighting). You can decide not to eat foie gras, or not to eat whale, even if it is “cultural”, but it has to come from yourself.
On the subject (whales and their protection), you can read this excellent novella, published by Editions Griffe d’Encre, La vieille anglaise et le continent by Jeanne-A Debat, a little environmentalist science fiction novella, where one never fall in too sweet feeling, but the ideas, the construction, the style are outstanding (no, I do not have any “cut” with them, but it’s really an extraordinary novella).
So, I decided not to eat whale 🙂