Thoughts on the Assassination of Benazir Bhutto
Kyotofoodie is a site dedicated to the decidedly non-political subject of food, specifically the culinary culture of Kyoto, Japan.
Last night, while looking at our site stats and incoming links we learned the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. Paku and I were both very, very saddened at the news.
I watched the news reports most of the night from Pakistan and ruminated today and decided that I would post some thoughts on this tragic event here.
Why? Because Japan and it’s Western friends and admirers get along, learn from and appreciate each other and prosper and grow together.
We learned of the news via blogs on Technorati.
Benazir Bhutto is a public figure that I have been familiar with for all of my adult life. I remember quite well when she became Prime Minister of Pakistan. While a person with foibles and flaws, allegations of corruption, etc, she was charismatic and very brave and seemed to offer some real hope that Pakistan might, like Afghanistan, move in a moderate and peaceful direction after the inevitable departure of Pervez Musharraf.
Is there any hope?
Kyotofoodie is visited regularly by people from North America, Europe and Asia who have an interest in Japan, and especially Kyoto.
More accesses come from the United States than any other country. I don’t think that it is possible to find two countries more unlike each other than Japan and the United States. This is true in terms of every possible measure; history, custom, social structure, religion, language and even cuisine.
Our contact started with conflict and our history contains much enmity. American gunboat diplomacy forced Japan to end it’s 250 years of national seclusion. Japan and the Western powers, especially the United States waged one of the most brutal wars in human history that ended with the mass incendiary and nuclear destruction of every city in Japan (with the exception of Kyoto).
Yet look at us now. Of course, America has been very, very popular in Japan for a long, long time. Japanese culture such as karaoke, sushi, anime, manga, Japanese video gaming consoles, etc are extremely popular in both Western and Asian countries now.
Japan is a country that has a lot to teach and offer the world. It is a country with no significant natural resources, there are no fossil fuels or minerals that can simply be extracted, exported and converted into cash. There are fish in the sea and timber in the mountains and the land, while rugged and mountainous produces enough crops to feed the people. That is Japan’s modest starting point and yet it’s economy has risen to top of the world. The people of Japan enjoy a life of comfort and freedom.
What is the cause? Japan’s success can only be attributed to the character of it’s people; respectful, modest, serious and hardworking.
In Japan it is very common to give someone a small gift when you visit them. With New Year’s approaching, small gifts abound.
Gifts received on the same day that Benazir Bhutto was assassinated.
left: sake kasu (酒粕), right: yuzu (柚子)
Sake Kasu (酒粕)
This is kasu, or sake lees from fine daiginjyo sake, the crème de la crème of Japanese sake.
Sake Kasu is popular in the winter and is used as a base for soups, confections (sake manjyu) as well as marinades for grilled fish. (Paku already cooked up some wonderful creations with this sake kasu, we hope to have some home cooking recipes for you soon.)
This yuzu was given to me for the purpose of yuzu-buro (柚子風呂), literally, yuzu bath. The yuzu fruit is perforated with a knife or fork tines and put it in the bathtub as it is being filled. This creates an exquisite bath and fills the house with the gentle but all pervading aroma of yuzu.
So, that is how the Japanese relate with the world and to people that they didn’t start out having a lot in common with.
I really would like to ask our Muslim brothers and sisters whether Islam is a religion, a path to love and peace in the world, or, is it an ideology of hate?
May those of us who are not believers in Islam hope to live our lives in peace?