Know thy neighbour

Featured in

  • Published 20150414
  • ISBN: 9781922182807
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

WHENEVER THE DOORBELL rings late at night in our small Peking University apartment, we know who to expect. Our Chinese colleague in global politics at nearby Tsinghua University keeps late hours. There is now a pattern to these visits: we offer tea, he always declines – ‘no, no,’ – he says with a wave of his hand, ‘just talk, plain talk’. He had visited Japan over the long Spring Festival holiday. Late in February 2014 the doorbell rang and there he was, rugged up against the winter cold, wanting to talk.

Like a number of Chinese people we know, he admires the cleanliness and order of Japan. He had once described himself as half-Buddhist and half-Muslim. The comment came over lunch in a Buddhist temple that had been turned into a ‘vegetarian’ restaurant; the menu included beef and chicken dishes. The temples of Japan are not restaurants or museums as is often the case in China, but living places of worship.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at

Share article

About the author

David Walker

David Walker is Alfred Deakin professor of Australian Studies at Deakin University and BHP Billiton chair of Australian Studies at Peking University, Beijing. His...

More from this edition

Marked men

EssayGERMAINE GREER’S FATHER never hugged her. Born just before World War II, Greer’s childhood was overshadowed by a father who had served in military...

The uses and abuses of humiliation

MemoirOne year I said I didn’t Want to be arrested. Back too frail to be man-handled. I settled for the dawn peace-vigil: Candles flickering in the police horse’s...

Dangers and revelations

EssayFOR INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS, experience of the Second World War went beyond service in combat roles. Consider the Davis brothers in Western Australia: as Jack...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.