JAPAN: Navel Exercise

Japan has long had a special regard for the navel. The shape of the umbilicus of a newborn baby would be discussed at length, and if it happened to point downward, the parents would brace themselves for a weakling child who would bring them woe. The thunder god Raijin, with his terrifying drums, his great horns and long tusks, was said to have an insatiable appetite for young navels, and mothers had constantly to nag their youngsters to keep themselves well covered up. But for all the national preoccupation with it, the navel...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!