Monthly Archives: January 2011

Sending Salt to Your Enemy

I have just read Mark Kurlansky’s Salt: A World History, which had long been on my bookshelf unread.. Even though I read it for an introduction for my research on the overuse of salt, that was a very interesting book and gave me a new perspective of the Western history and trading in the old days. I first learned that salary, soldier, and salad originated from the word “salt.” I also read other books on salt in Japanese. In Japan, it’s rare to have rock salt from the earth. Almost all salt has been sea salt from the ocean. Therefore, almost all the roads of salt have lead to the ocean. There is a famous Japanese saying “Sending Salt to Your Enemy,” which means showing humanity even to one’s enemy. When a feudal lord whose territory wasn’t surrounded by any ocean was sealed off by its enemy, then, the other enemy from the other side respectfully shipped the salt to the rival feudal load. The story has long been favored by Japanese and has become Japan’s moral code of conduct. You are the salt of the earth and the sea.

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