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A Head Cold and Hot Tea: Healing the Rift Between Japan and China

Jan 9, 2014
Eiji Yoshikawa

I have visited Hong Kong approximately twenty-five times. Before my last visit there in 2001, I caught a cold. I never take Western-style, chemical-based medicines, but I do use natural remedies.

On the first morning after my arrival, I went for a walk on a busy street in Causeway Bay, and I saw a newly-opened tea shop. I found a tea there that was made from a variety of healthy herbs that were good for relieving cold symptoms.

It was a small open-air shop, only four square meters or so. Three ladies worked there, and I was their first customer of the day. They all stared at me. I sat on a small stool and pointed to a sign on the wall. “Good for cold?” I asked.

A Head Cold and Hot Tea: Healing the Rift Between Japan and ChinaThe lady in charge nodded and said, “Yes,” in Cantonese.

The other two ladies helped her make a big bowl of completely black tea. They brought it to my table. It was a large portion and was very hot. I drank it all up and felt better already. I thanked the ladies and walked back out to the madly busy streets of Hong Kong Island.

The next morning I went back to the same shop. The ladies, who were looking bored when I walked in, smiled at me when I ordered the same tea again. I thanked them and left. I returned and had it again the next day, and the next.

On the last morning before I left, the three ladies stood much closer to me than before, as I drank my tea. As I was about to finish the last of it, I said, “I’m sorry about what my grandfathers from Japan did to your families sixty years ago.”

The three women quickly discussed what I said, speaking to each other in Cantonese. Then, one of them said to me,”Thank you. We have never met a Japanese man like you. Do other Japanese people think that way too? It would be nice if they did.”

The three ladies saw me off at the front of their store. Their warm and smiling faces stayed with me as I left Hong Kong. My cold was cured.

Image(s) from Wikimedia Commons
Image by Walters Art Museum

Eiji Yoshikawa is a retired Pro Boxer who majored inFrench literature and did his thesis on Jean Cocteau and Cinematography. He founded the "Peacemakers", Japan's first neighborhood watch, and spends much of his time visiting schools and communities teaching children about non-violence. In 2004, Japan Inc. Magazine called him the "Compassionate Pugilist". We are proud to offer "Letters from the Compassionate Pugilist" as our first guestcolumnist. Contact Eiji at www.eiji.tv or via email.

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