Monday, April 18, 2011

Nuclear Fallout – a child’s perspective

Many years ago, I was watching some kids in Japan playing with vocabulary cards. Some were pictures of ducks and cats and the like, and others were "action cards" like "washing dishes" and "riding a bicycle."

Imagine my surprise when I suddenly heard this three-year-old shout out, "Unchi ga dete kuru!" (The poo is coming out.)

I grabbed the card out of the kid's hand and, sure enough, it had a picture of a little doggie with a turd exiting his behind.

The Japanese attitude was it's something kids see, why should they not have words to describe it.

It was one of those moments I began to embrace the Japanese way of doing things.

Since then I’ve encountered one example after another of how much less reserve there is in Japan over dealing with this thing we call a turd. In all its many forms.

They have turd flashlights, for example.

In Asakusa, a French designer created a beerhall that looks like a black beer mug with a “golden flame” thingie on top, but Tokyoites immediately began referring to the building as the “unchi biru, ” the “turd building.”

And there’s even a scientist who is working on extracting the protein in sewage to create a “turdburger.”

I could go on and on; examples abound. But I mention all this by way of introduction to a guide for children that just came my way to explaining the meaning of fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

I should let it speak for itself. There are English subtitles.

See if you can do any better.


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