Israel offended Japan's prime minister by serving him dessert out of a shoe, which Japanese people 'despise'

  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife had their dinner with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife interrupted by an offensive cultural faux pas — dessert was served in a shoe.
  • Shoes are "despised" in Japanese culture, and it's a weird idea in any case to serve food out of a shoe.
  • A Japanese diplomat called it offensive and questioned what the meal, prepared by an Israeli celebrity chef, was trying to accomplish.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife had their dinner with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife interrupted by an offensive cultural faux pas — dessert was served in a shoe.

While serving food out of a shoe seems like an odd choice for any culture, it has a special and offensive connotation in Japan.

"This was a stupid and insensitive decision," a senior Israeli diplomat who served in Japan told Hebrew-language Yediot Aharonot, according to JPost.

"There is nothing more despised in Japanese culture than shoes. Not only do they not enter their houses while wearing shoes, you will not find shoes in their offices either. Even the prime minister, ministers and members of parliament do not wear shoes to work... It is equivalent to serving a Jewish guest chocolates in a dish shaped like a pig," the diplomat said.

It's unclear what message Israeli celebrity chef Sergev Moshe was trying to send by serving the chocolates out of a shoe, but it caused an uproar.

"No culture puts shoes on the table," a Japanese diplomat told the Hebrew website. "What precisely was this illustrious chef Segev thinking? If this is meant to be humor, we do not find it funny. I can tell you that we are offended for our prime minister," said the diplomat.

The Times of Israel quotes a source close to the celebrity chef who is also an author and TV personality as saying the shoes were actually a metal sculpture.

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