Okay so I’m perusing an article by Stuart Heritage in the Guardian’s Shortcuts blog and the first words to meet my eyes are “eyeball-licking.” Eyeball-licking! Yuck! Who in their right mind would ever do such a thing? Then I read where it says “this is an article about oculolinctus, an eye-licking fetish that is currently sweeping across the schools of Japan.” Oh Japan, nuff said. No reason for me or anybody else to bother giving this story a second look. It was nothing out of the ordinary, just another link in a long chain of weird news stories that seem to stretch back to Japan for some reason.
Fortunately Tokyo-based writer, Mark Schreiber, did take a second look and discovered that this weird news story stretching back to Japan stretched the truth to its extreme limits. Writing in the Number 1 Shimbun, Schreiber says that “it was not especially difficult to at least cast doubts on the sweeping claim that large numbers of Japanese adolescents were suffering from an epidemic of tongue-induced pink eye.” While I admittedly have no idea what the Guardian’s intrepid reporter did to get his story, this urban myth-buster from Tokyo went so far as to practice journalism (go figure), contacting a couple of Japanese ophthalmological associations, a school clinicians’ organization and other medical professionals. “None of them had the faintest idea of what I was talking about,” Schreiber says, which leads me to believe there is less to the Guardian’s story than meets the eye.
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