Cats across the country lament the loss of their favorite sound.
Recently, an episode of Nogizaka Under Construction had members of the idol group Nogizaka46 do tasks to make them more self-sufficient.
At one point during the challenges, 19-year-old Asuka Saito was faced with a can and an opener. At a loss, the idol remarked, “I don’t know what this tool is, no one showed me how to use it….”
乃木坂46まとめんばー (@ngzk_matome) August 19, 2017
Host Osamu Shitara then turned to the other girls and asked if any of them have ever used a can opener before. Only three or four raised their hands and none of them appeared confident that they could operate it properly, with 23-year-old Nanase Nishino calling it, “scary.”
Now we might assume this is just a part of the pampered show-biz life that idols lead, but a study by the Japan Meteorological Association in 2016 revealed that only 61 percent of junior high students have ever used a can opener.
▼ “My daughter hurt her finger so I asked what happened. She said, ‘I wanted to eat a can of peaches but I didn’t know how to open it… it was hard work.’
Indeed, she did work hard.”
娘ちゃんが指を怪我していたので何をしたのか聞いたら 「桃の缶詰が食べたかった。でも開け方が分からなくて…スッゴい頑張ったんだよ！！」 とのこと。 ほんとだ、すっごい頑張ってる… https://t.co/4Q1Djhfc3E—
ちゃーこ (@cya_ko) July 09, 2017
This statistic led to much derision online.
“They were never curious about it?”
“All kids care about is taking photos and posting them on social networks.”
“They’re about as useful as a monkey.”
“Parents are pampering their kids too much. Why open it themselves when they can get mommy to do it for them?”
Not a lot of mercy going around to say the least. However, this likely isn’t a matter of overcoddling by parents or narcissistic tendencies of today’s youth. There just aren’t any cans around anymore, or at least the kind that require a can opener.
▼ “The pull-tab broke so I struggled for an hour to open it,
but when I realized I looked like an ape with a tool I gave up.”
ミしゃこ (@garigarijp) April 18, 2017
Having lived in Japan well over I decade I could count the number of times I needed a can opener on both hands and half of those times were for imported cans of beans and coffee from North America. Here, the lion’s share of preserved ready-to-eat foods are packed in retort pouches – plastic sacks that can be heated with the food inside and open with a simple tear.
▼ “The way to open a can like a gorilla descended
from a long lost civilization that once used can openers.”
キヌゴシ (@momen_DF) April 01, 2017
In addition, the Japan Canners Association estimates the number of canned foods that use pull tabs are about 90 percent. Therefore, a traditional fully-sealed can is a rare sight in this day and age and has been for quite a while.
By the way, in case you were wondering why the Japan Meteorological Association was studying can opener usage, it was as a part of a disaster preparedness assessment they were conducting. Given Japan’s reputation for catastrophe it’s probably good to check in on our survival skills every once in a while.
▼ “How to open a can…”
かんざわ (@kaduki581109) February 17, 2017
This means that even though advances in packaging has made life easier, using a can opener is still very important in an emergency situation to access supplies. Luckily, I know just the thing to get the youth of today into using can openers again…
Canadian Savings Gro (@Canadiansaves) January 09, 2017
Zoodles, Spaghetti-Os, or whatever shapes your preferred canned pasta comes in, are the ideal foodstuffs to fix this dilemma. Just the other day I showed a Japanese junior high student a picture of a bowl of Spaghetti-Os. He didn’t know what it was but said definitively that it looked “really good.”
So Heinz, Campbells, and you too, Chef Boyardee — this is an S.O.S. from Japan that we need your tasty pre-made pasta cans asap… especially anything with ravioli in it. It may very well save the lives of millions of Japanese people one day, and at the very least prevent televised embarrassment for the next generation of idols… until they’re asked to use a bottle opener.