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A few days ago, my husband and I stepped into a Japanese restaurant near a gigantic shopping mall in the Pacific Northwest. We occasionally go to this casual restaurant because it serves good Japanese food at fairly reasonable price. As usual, we ordered an appetizer and deluxe sushi dinners. After enjoying asari sakamushi (clams cooked in sake broth – delicious!), we were waiting for sushi dinners to arrive. Then I saw an old bespectacled man come into the restaurant with an accordion. He pulled a chair close to the partition that separated the dining area from the cashier’s corner, and placed a small jar on the side with a five-dollar bill in it. And then he started to play the accordion. The first piece he played was a very popular Italian song, O Sole Mio. As we sipped miso-soup, I couldn’t but feel a strong sense of discontinuity. Then, the song was followed by another canzone Napolitana, Torno a Surriento, and then by two American songs from the 1950s. I am not sure if the sushi tasted better because of the music, but I thought we were experiencing an everyday manifestation of postmodernism or globalization, where pluralism and heterogeneous cultures and life-styles are accepted in a nonchalant and uncritical manner. It was a rather disorienting experience to me, but it may have been a thoroughly ordinary and enjoyable experience for others.

Yes, we did put a 5-dollar bill in the jar when we left the restaurant.