Tuesday, November 16, 2010
A War of Cultures - Big Balls Beaver vs. the Gnome
One thing that is very striking when comparing European (or at least the more northern part of Europe) and Japanese culture is the difference in garden decorations.
One of my favorite items in the European garden is the Garden Gnome statue in all it's bountiful forms, sometimes jolly, sometimes a bit more mischievous and sometimes even a little naughty. When passing by a garden with a Garden Gnome decorating it, I often make a stop to fully enjoy it.
However, here in Japan the Garden Gnome is basically unheard of, on rare occassions it can be seen in a garden of some Japanese person who is trying to get a little European atmosphere going (but it is often mixed-up with Santa Claus anyway). Instead, the Japanese garden has opted to go for statues of the Tanuki; the Japanese beaver racoon dog thingy animal. It has in common with the Garden Gnome that it is often dressed up in various forms and often is carrying a bottle of liquor (for the sake of being correct, I probably should add that the Tanuki statue is often a regular feature not only in gardens, but also outside restaurants and some more traditional shops selling handicrafts etc).
One characteristic of the "Tanuki" animal is that is has unproportionally large testicles compared to most well known mammals, and this is of course taken into account when making the Tanuki Garden statues (see the pictures, yes, those are the testicles).
Since the Salaryman household is a cross-cultural family, I have been considering how to manage our garden in terms of the Gnome vs. the Tanuki, whether I should make sure to have an equal number of each to not create any disharmony.
After much consideration though, I think that I have come to the ideal solution, instead of having a "balance", a blend would be much more interesting and creative; the ideal thing to have in the garden would be a Garden Gnome with huge bared testicles to celebrate both cultures! I have done some preliminary scouting, but I have yet to find such a blend...