Thursday, October 07, 2004

Abalone Piracy and Other Sins of 大間 (Oma)



Perhaps I was premature in condemning my village for prejudice against Chinese people. The people of Oma in the next town over are spoken of here in much the same way. After all, they are an aggressive and barbarian people, those Oma folks—no better than pirates! "There are lots of that sort in Oma." Kazamaura is not known for being competitive. While a few in the track and field teams achieve glory with the effortlessness of gods, our school sports teams are know for losing 0 to something much, much higher than zero. Oma, on the other hand, is so competitive that it produced an Olympic silver medalist in Judo. They practice what the Kazamaurites call “Spartan Education.” Apparently, in Oma instruction in the martial arts begins in the elementary schools. In Kazamaura it never begins at all unless one goes to a dojo in Oma. The fact is, Kazamaura is content with its squid and its abalone (アワビ or awabi).

Abalone (ăbelō´nē) is a, “popular name in the United States for a univalve gastropod mollusk of the genus Haliotis, members of which are also called ear shells . . .” (and if you are strange enough to want to know further, look here). “Although abalone is expensive in Japan, it is popular among Japanese consumers, who eat it in sashimi, Chinese food, and holiday gift preparations” (reference).

In Japan, diving for abalone used to be performed by the 海女 (ama, or “sea women”), and it was a very interesting and aesthetic occupation to behold. The uniforms have since changed, however, and for gathering abalone people now use glass bottomed boxes and spears from the surface. The breeding, releasing, and harvesting of abalone is a modest (if costly) enterprise when set against the glare of Oma’s glamorous Tuna fishery and its lucrative nuclear energy contracts. But are those villains in Oma content with there own riches? No!

This is one of three radar stations built by Kazamaura—one for each of the three sub-villages. Apparently those pillaging pirates from Oma were coming over at night with their motorboats and scuba gear to steal Kazamaura’s abalone! Not anymore, though. Every night three lonely men valiantly man their respective radar towers and woe to those Oma people if they try to take our abalone now!