The food in the Japanese monastery was ‘basic and vegetarian’. What did you expect? | Liz Boulter

A recent online spat between tourists and a Buddhist monk highlights the culture gap that can crop up when travelling abroad. But aren’t such differences one of the joys of travel?

The recent news of a Buddhist monk’s angry outburst at negative online reviews made me smile. Visitors complaining about meals being “basic and vegetarian” at a monastery is like criticising a steakhouse for having too much meat on the menu. So I did scoff initially at the idea of people travelling in Japan – and to a monastery – and not being prepared for “strange” meals that are “quite unlike any food I’ve ever tasted”.

But maybe (American-born) Shingon priest Daniel Kimura was being unfair – and the term “uneducated fuck” is certainly intemperate. The comment isn’t necessarily negative: eating food unlike any you’ve tasted is one of the great joys of travel, and perhaps the person posting meant only to alert others to its unexpected nature.

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