When one of my friends was little, she lived with her family in Tokyo, Japan. They had a little wooden house in the middle of what is now one of the largest tourist attractions in Tokyo. The little town is called Harajuku and it's one of the greatest crap-trap store magnets. It's famous for teenagers shopping for crap jewelry, crap music, crap clothes, and all overpriced. Well, it wasn't always that way. My friend's house was a beautiful wooden house in the traditional Japanese style.

Japanese houses are built to be portable. Instead of being permanent structures, these houses can be taken apart piece by piece and the interlocking wooden beams and floor panels can be easily transported. Remember that Japanese houses do not have any private rooms to speak of. Instead, they have spaces enclosed by sliding paper walls. Needless to say, the house has since been moved to a place in the mountains and what now stands in its place is a big ugly grey building.

My friend and her family lived in that house for many years. They did well for themselves and lived comfortably when possible. In the back yard, they had a small chicken coup for the egg-laying chickens, and a little area where they had a goat and a fig tree. My friend used to play with the chickens, feeding them, giving them names.

It never really occurred to her that often, when the time came, a chicken would disappear and suddenly there would be chicken for dinner. She did not connect the two because often they'd eat chicken without having one of the backyard chickens disappear. One day, my friend decided to accompany her mother to do the day's shopping. They walked to the butcher's store to buy the day's meats.

As they passed the storefront window, my friend saw the chickens hanging in the window, smoked and dried and hanging from their necks by wire hooked nooses. "Mama," she asked. "Are those the same chickens that we have in th backyard" And her mother, who knew her daughter well, replied "no, Mi yoko, those are special chickens. They " re called eating-chickens.' "What are eating chickens, Mama" And my grandmother confidently answered "they " re special chickens that the butchers grow. They " re born dead.

They were never alive and that's why we eat them." This answer satisfied my friend but she always wondered how something dead could grow to be so large. Case of the eating chickensByBryan Schwartz.