My dad is from Japan, a country and culture known somewhat for their expectation of sticking to the rules (social rules, especially). Avoiding upsetting the group with your individual desires is the height of social faux pas and what can be more disruptive than being different? There's a Japanese saying that says "the nail that sticks out gets hammered down." Well, based on my experience, the nails are the coolest people in Japan and the ones you want to go out of your way to know.
|the man himself|
The story goes like this: one morning, he was late to breakfast from his dorm room. He was craving natto (fermented soy beans that smell like hell and taste not much better, IMHO), which is normally eaten with piping hot rice and soy sauce. By the time he got to the cafeteria, the rice was gone (this almost impossible to imagine in a Japanese institution, but this was the 1970s and it's a country that rewards the early bird).
All that was left was toast. But he was determined to eat natto, so he buttered some toast, stirred some soy sauce into the slimy beans, spread the concoction over the hot, buttered toast... and, voila, he invented what would become his favorite breakfast to this day.
99 other Japanese people who were craving natto that morning would have seen the rice all gone and just thrown their hands up and said, "Oh well. Natto is eaten with rice. No rice, no natto. That's the rule." My dad got all entrepreneurial with the natto, said screw the rules, and got a Eureka moment out of it.
Though you wouldn't guess it by looking at him -- there are no tattoos or crazy hair or wild fashion in sight -- he's a rebel. He balked at the norms that 99% of the rest of his community took for granted and went from there... all the way to the U. S. of A.