Front page | Essays index


It's Only Cold 'Outside'


I recently spent a few days staying as a guest in the home of a Japanese family. It was the first time for them to be 'host' to a foreigner, and perhaps they were a bit apprehensive at first, but they very quickly warmed up, soon became completely relaxed, and then treated me pretty much like another member of the family. For my part, as I am quite familiar with their sort of lifestyle, I had no problems whatsoever during the stay, but simply enjoyed the experience of being among warm friendly people.

I did encounter something though, that I hadn't expected that I would ever see in a typical Japanese family home. All during the time I was there, I never saw the father smoke, and in fact, had assumed that he was a non-smoker. Actually though, like most men of his generation, he does smoke. Where? Out on the balcony!

I'm sure you are thinking ... "Sure. Sure. His wife must be nagging him about smoking, so he just goes out there to get some peace and quiet ..." But she tells me that that's not the case. Whether or not he is worried about smoking's effect on his own body, I don't know, but he does care about his wife and children ... so out he goes ... summer or winter.

I have mixed feelings about this. Of course, I think if he was really considerate of his children, he would quit completely, but that is obviously very difficult. So I'll accept him as he is, and just be thankful that he is the kind of father who would like to 'get along together' with his family, rather than dominate it.

It might indeed be cold outside, but somebody is warm inside ... isn't he!