• Oakland, Calif.

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My mother was born in Japan. I traveled here ready to love her country. Indeed, there is much to love. But one memory I’ll take home has forever tainted my perception of Japan.

Seated at the counter of a small restaurant under the JR train lines, I watched a cook use a net to pull a fish from a tank. Next thing I knew, the fish was on the counter in front of me. I realized, in horror, that the top half of the still-living fish had been sheared off, exposing blood and flesh. His head was intact, eyes staring out, as his lips formed a circle. His cheeks puffed out several times as he gasped. I noted the toothpick through his live body, the garnish to the side. Here was a sentient creature, dying a tortured death on a lunch counter under JR.

Do the Japanese have any idea how unbearably cruel this is? Is there no understanding of biology? I am deeply saddened that the homeland of my mother engages in what can only be described as an act of sadism.

linda schmoldt

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