‘Bamboo…Are You Sure?’

Today I was given a rhinoceros horn. Or at least something that looked a heck of a lot like a rhinoceros horn…

I was in my blissfully ignorant iPod world, stretching for a run outside my flat, when a car pulled up in the road in front of me. A woman emerged and started transporting various items into my neighbours house across the road. I continued stretching and was surprised when the woman started heading in my direction…carrying the said horn.

A brief exchange followed…she asked if I ate the item in her arms…of course I said yes in the Japanese way, not wanting to be rude. At which point I became the new owner of the ‘horn’ which was apparently edible.

To try and clarify the matter I photographed the rhinoceros horn (with keys thrown in for scale) and presented the photo to Mieko at our Japanese class that evening. Mieko confirmed that the ‘horn’ gift giver was not mad and the item was in fact bamboo.

‘Bamboo? Honto desu ka? (are you sure?)’.

Mieko, brushing aside my gaijin ignorance of all things to do with Japanese farming and explained further: ‘It is part of the root of the bamboo tree’.

‘Ah, ok’. One more piece of the puzzle in place, ‘What do I do with it?’.

‘You eat it’. Yes, of course.

‘Right. Umm, how exactly?’.

‘You peal it, cut it up and boil it’.


At this point I realised my stupidity for taking this gift from a complete stranger for 3 reasons:

1. I don’t own a knife big enough to make a scratch on this thing, let alone carve it up into small pieces like a murdered carcass.

2. Even if I could, somehow, in my shoebox of an apartment cut up the horn, I don’t own a pot to boil the bamboo in.

3. Say by some chance, factors 1 & 2 weren’t in the equation, I would have to give the cooked bamboo to every person I know in Hitachiomiya and I would still be eating it for a month!

So after weighing up my options, only 1 question remains…how do I dispose of it?

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