In Japan many of us take a little long vacation from the end of December to the third or the forth of January. This year, many people take the vacation until 6th of January bacause it's sunday on the 6th.
Japanese events in special days like New Year's day are more or less related with Japanese original religion called Shinto. In the past time, we usually took 7 day rest after the new year breaks. Recently it's not always in one regular rule but it's true that New Year's day is the most important seasonal event in Japan. Of course it's more important than Xmas day.
As I wrote above, I will also take a little longer holidays from Today. Have a happy new year !!!!
I can't go a week without curry dish. I love Indian curry and Japanese curry especially, as cooking Indian curry is a really hard job for me, Japanese curry is my home curry all the time. Actually Japanese curry is thought to be an imitation of Indian curry, but the taste of them are really different from each other. Many say Japanese curry has both sweet and hot taste, and rahter sweeter than Indian cury. For me, it's a matter of the taste difference, not a matter of hot or spicy level. Actually Indian Curry often is too sweet for me to taste. I tried some Butter Chicken Curry in NZ, which was too sweet although maybe they are in some ways arranged into local NZ style.
As for Japanese curry, making it at home is not that hard. Curry sauce is sold at any food stores, so we can make curry with it by adding vegitables, meat, and water. Curry sauce has variety of types from sweet ones to hot ones, or standard ones to specially blended ones. I love Java Curry (spicy type) of HOUSE food company. House brand is a kind of sign of high quality curry of Japan. Actually the House curry items are all really good.
Today, I added Katsu or Tonkatsu on the top. Tonkatsu is also a standard Japanese food, which is deep fried pork cutlets. As photo, it's called Katsu Curry in Japan. Katsu and Curry meet very well in the taste balance.
Katsu curry was born about 60 years ago in Japan by a request of a famous baseball player of Japan then. He usually dined at a restaurant called SWISS in Ginza, Tokyo and he asked the chef if he could have curry rice dish with tonkatu on the rice. That was the start of Katsu Curry Dish in Japan. The restaurat, SWISS, is still operating the business in Ginza. The shop is really small with only 10 tables or so, but the atmosphere of the exterior and interior is really nostalgic for me. I also love Swiss restaurant in Ginza, where used to be my repeating lunch place when I was working in Ginza. Still, I sometimes try the Katsu Curry at Swiss when I visit Ginza, Tokyo. Price is slightly higher than casual curry shops in Tokyo, but it's worth visiting. The taste of Katsu Curry is just old day's Japanese Katsu curry. Maybe you can find good Katsu Curry places around in Tokyo, but this place is a kind of remaining memory of Katsu Curry of Japan.
Please see Swiss Homepage if you want to visit !
Making ramen at home is not hard work. Most of the ramen products contain noodle and soup and all we have to do is just cook them as instructed. Today's ramen products have amazing quality. Most of the "supermarket ramen" are really tasty even though we are not trained as ramen chef at home.
Ramen market has been in a really hard competition to win the people's favor. Just one popular item can make the ramen company rich enough because a real hit item reaches more than hundred million bag sales in Japan, which is a really good business.
Consequently, the quality has been always rising up by the hard requests from consumers. To be honest, I didn't like home made ramen at all when I was kid, the taste was really mess.
Today's choice was an iteresting brand ramen, Hope Ken ramen. Hope Ken is a famous and popular ramen shop in Tokyo, there are two branches in Kichijoji and in Sendagaya. I would often go there for filling my hungry stomach at night when I was a student in Tokyo. Hope Ken was popular then, and still it's good but many other new ramen shops recently invades the share of ramen popularity in Tokyo. In my opinion, Hope Ken recently lost its power in ramen market in Tokyo.
But Hope Ken ramen is still in my favorite ramen ranking. I often heard that Hope Ken ramen became a homemade ramen product, and today found it.
Taste is close to the real Hope Ken ramen but I didn't get my favorite flavor of it just as I used to enjoy. If I first tried this ramen without knowing real Hope Ken ramen, I would be pleased with the taste. It's a good tonkotsu ramen just like we have at some real tonkotsu ramen shops. I was not disappointed with the taste quality.
The ramen is about 300yen or 4 US dollars for 2 people amount in a bag.
BTW, the name, Hope Ken meas House of Hope. I'm enjoying ramen of hope ???
About 68% people answerd YES. It's about 10% down (if my momoery is right) from last year's survey. I don't know if this 68% figure shows bright life or desperate life for standard Japanese people.
I asked myseld about it, and my answer would also be YES. I visited many countries and lived in some other countries than Japan. I often thought I shouhd have been born in the USA or other Western countries than Japan, but now I confess that I can't imagine myself being in other countries than in Japan. That's natural because I was raised here and it's not hard to live here. Probably I would not choose Japan if I was born in other places.
But what interested me most in the answers was, among those who answered NO, there were many people who don't want to be born again wherever it may be. They gave some reasons for the answer and the biggrst reason was that the actual life is really hard. They think no more life is needed if the life would be again very hard like present life.
I agree with them a little. Certainly living human life is interesting and fantastic for me, but I needed to face with a lot of hardship in my life too. If my life always had both joy and pain, I don't know if I would choose my next life for the joy in spite of receiving the same amount of pain with the joy.
I answered YES, so my life might not be worse than some who answered NO. I like living in Japan. But do I choose any other countries than Japan if there were much nicer countries than Japan ? To this question, I still answer " I want to be born in Japan again". because I can't live without enough Japanese food and my language. Such a tiny reason for many, but it's a really heavy matter for me.
We had Takoyaki party yesterday at home. It means we made Takoyaki at home, not take-away ones from Takoyaki shop.
Now it's really easy to make gooda taste Takoyaki because all the necessary staff and equipements are sold at stores.
Most difficult part of making good takoyaki used to be proper pan with proper temparature and proper takoyaki powder when we were kids. Actually I don't remember we did it well. All the time, we had to eat bad taste takoyaki because we made it. After some miserable experiences, I stopped making takoyaki at home.
However, the pan is sold cheap at stores and the pan's temparature is already set right as it's electrically controled. We don't have to adjust it before making, so we can't fail in making. Also the power ( or takoyaki flour ) is also sold as TAKOYAKI POWDER, which is already blended with special ingredients for best taste takoyaki. We just add water as instructed, and cook it with octopus (tako in Japanese, also yaki means bake, pan fry or grill in Japanese) and cut leek, red vinegared ginger and some more staff by our favorite choice.
Then the result is always good !
Making takoyaki is really fun. It's a kind of food event for us. Okonomiyaki is also good but takoyaki is more like a fun food for me.
My wife bought some cakes for a little party at home. As I wrote before, we especailly don't celebrate Christmas at home, but it's not a bad idea to have some cakes at this occassion because I don't eat sweet things usually.
Japanese cakes are not so sweet compared to Western countries' cakes in my experience. Also the decoration of the cakes is cute as you see in the photo.
The cake in the photo are not specially nice one, but just average type of Japanese christmas cake. Price is about 2 to 3 US dollars for one piece.
Today I'm still alive. Maya's word fortunately didn't realize.
My Christmas Eve is just another day. I'm not religious so much, so nothing special for me.
But today I enjoyed with my dog in a park. He is very good at catching a ball even when the ball is in the air. He jumps and catches it in the photo. I'm really happy that I can live another day with him.
Today, I will have a Takoyaki Party with my family. If possible, I will try to upload the photos of Takoyaki later.
It's a short blog article about a Japanese snack food. Above photo is a rice cake of Japan. Taste is just like Japanese curry rice dish as curry powder covers the rice cake. This type of snack is a kind of long run merchandise because we often had the same one when we were elementary school kids more than 40 years ago. At that time, small shops around our schools used to sell this type of curry rice cake,and we had only 5 yen or 10 yen ( 5 cents or 10 cents, roughly) in our pockets for asking a small bag of curry rice cake. At that old time, 5 yen or 10 yen had value for buying something. Now 10 yen can buy nothing, though.
This taste reminds me of the old school days when we all were very poor. I still remember the conversation we had over this snack cake then, we were talking if we could go to ohter countries when we get older...no joke. Then, going abroad from Japan was a kind of dream story for successful life.
Time passed, but this taste is still the same. Today I found it at a food store.
At some special occassions, we often visit a shrine for praying. It's now at the end of the year ( also some say it's ending of the mankind by Maya's words). I went to a shrine today.
Japanese shrines have a gate with specially impressive form, which is called TORII. Going through the torii gate, we can reach to the main building of the shrines. This photo's torii gate is small one, also the shrine is small. At famous places like Kyoto, Nara, Tokyo or more places, big shrines' torii gate is really huge.
There are several meaning of this torii gate as far as I know. One of them, what I especially support it to be true, is that this is named because the watchers of the shrines stay on the top of the gates, and they keep their eyes on the people passing through it.
Tori means birds, and i means stay in Japanese. Torii so means that where the bird stays. Keeper of the shrine or Japanese shinto is believed to be crows, or the birds. So this gate is where the crows stays on to keep shrines safe from evildoers.
Old shrines always have very old trees as you see in the photo. Also besides the main building, there usually are very old and very tall trees, which are believed to be God Trees.
I become really holy in mind and it's nice to wipe something wicked ingering on me off my body and spirit. This is what I do when my sacred time comes.
I often can't decide which to eat for lunch or dinner. For me, choices for meals in Japan are really hard works in wide range of varieties. In that situation, it's sometimes nice to go to department stores or supermarket for finding a good bento. There are many take away bento shops in Japan and they sell hot foods but I prefer buying some at department stores or supermarkets although some of the bento there are not hot enough.
Recetnly the quality of those bento is really good. If you want to eat sushi or sashimi, it's still better going to sushi restaurants, however, it's no bad at all just for quick lunch or easy dinner at home if we choose them from supermarkets' food sections.
Among them, I bought Sushi Bento, deep fried oyster bento, Tonkatsu bento, shrimp tempura and yakisoba bento, and gyoza for side taste. It's good for my family lunch for sharing. As a result, everything was satisfactory enough.
If you stay or live in Japan, you will soon master how to use the food shops conveniently. But you will be sure to be at a loss which to choose from too many variations of bento.
I'm now trying to play Someday My Prince Will Come for my jazz band work. It's a famous tune and probably not so hard number for standard jazz pianist. Without a certain reason, I don't like playing it. I don't know why this tune is not suitable for my play style. Usually I master a tune in a week or so, but this song takes still more than a week. I want to throw it away but band work is a kind of team work. I can't.
In any case, I like playing my own songs rather than playing other people's compositions.
Anyway, I have to prcatice more without complaints.
For me, celebrating Xmas in Japan is a little strange because we Japanese mostly aren't Chrstian. However, Xmas is already a kind of year ending event for Japanese people. They buy beautiful cakes and enjoy parties with friends or families.
When I lived in NZ, people were quiet all through the Christmas day. Fot them, of course it's holly time and they spend the time with holly mind with families. But in Japan, people are enjoying the Xmas events at bars, restaurants, or with their families too. Streets are also decolated beautifully with illumination and Santa Claus designs. In Japanese Xmas, it's not especially related wtih religion.
Now we are about to have Xmas day soon. For me this season means just the ending of a year with fun events.
Foreign people often think Japanese living cost is high, which is not always true. Because of the strong Japanese currency, it's really expensive for incoming people after converting the money from outside. I've lived in the USA and New Zealand, I think Japan is not always ranked top costing country to live.
For example, today I had a dinner at a cusual but beautiful restaurat near my home. I spent about 700 Yen ( about 8 USD) for my dish, and that's all. It included Fish dish, rice, and a soup. In addition, FREE salad and food is included in the price. As you see in the photos, there are some salad vegitables and cooked Japanese vegitable plates. They are all free as ALL YOU CAN EAT. Potato salada, carrot salad, tofu and vegitable, bean splout salad, and some more are really decisicou when we have them with main dish we order. Again the price was only 724 Japanese yen. How can we say it's expensive ?
This restaurant is not a specail place here. Now Japanese restaurants are either casual and cheaper ones or deluxe and expensive ones. One thing I really like is that it's really tasty even if we choose the casual and cheaper places.
I also like visiting high class restaurants in Tokyo or such big cities. For example, I don't care spending more than 100 USD for one night sushi dinner experience because I know it's really wonderful.
Tday I wanted to write about some good places with low cost. It's not hard to find them.
I went for a short drive with my two dogs today to near historic heritage place in Japan. It's known as Shirakawa no Seki, which used to be a gate to go to Nothern part of Japan in Edo priod in 7th century to early 19th century. There are legendary remainings still in the small village surrounded mountains with tiny but mystic shrine on the top. Trees are really old and they stand with grand looking with twisting shape.
Besides the mountian, there is an old house of Japan. It's kept in the traditional building technique of Japan with careful maintainance work. As the photos, roof is made of straws or thin tree branches and the walls are made from clay with bamboo trees inside. Doors are made of wood and papers instead of glasses. In the entrance, floor is just the ground and we take off shoes when stepping into the house. Each room floor was tatami floor which was made by straws. A old fireplace is still remaining in the house, too.
This is just what my memory explains about traditional old Japanese house. Actually when I was a kid, this kind of house was already out of use in many places. But at my father's farm village, there used to be the same kind of house there. I still remember I stayed there and had food around the fireplace in the cold time.
Back then, Winter time of Japan was incrediblly cold in the houses being protected only by wood, clay and papers. There was not solid concrete walls or warm air conditioners. It's now hard to live in that old style of Japan but seeing this type house is a kind of good thing because all the memory then is still good.
There was not modern technique to escape from cold Winter then, but we actually had warm and bright hope for our future, that was a really pasionate dream which could warm ourselves up from the bottom of our heart.
Actually manu of the Japanese people lost intersts in politics at the last time elecftion. Last time, Liberal Democratic Party lost so many members by the historically miserable result of the election after their long time top status in Japanese politics history after the war. It meant that many of Japanese expected the change from the old structure of Japanese politic system. However, the newly selected party, Democratic Party, completely did the opposite things againt their promises to voters at the election. That was a huge disappointment of us.
Politicians are not working for nation of Japan. They are working for their own profit and for their strong finacial supporters. I think some of us already know it, but election right rests with all the people in Japan. But unfortunately the election is a theory of decision by majority. Most of them are easily influenced by media. This country will not be changed as far as media stays besides the powerful people, not for nation of Japan.
Usually I was watching result of election very carefully until the last time. But now I'm not concerned with it any more. Nothing will be different no matter what kind of political party will take place.
Today a TV program in Japan introduced this animation made by a forgotten comedian of Japan called Tekken. The work is called Furiko, which means a pendulum. I really really cried when I saw this. Tears dropped on my desk endlessly.
It's just an rough made animation, as you see, the pictures move a little aukwardly. But the story and picture expression are really touching and easy to understand how a couple of man and woman grow and die in the stream of time.
The man in the animation lives his selfish life by sacrificing his wife's heart when he was young, and at the end, he regrets a lot of what he did when he faced with his wife's last time of her life. He tries to stop the time because he doesn't want to end it before seeing his wife's happiness, but his wife let the time go as if she knew nobody can bring back the passed time even in the time of her coma.
At the end, they both go to heaven as they see all their life again.
I think I'm so old enough to feel this animation's story so sensitively. I have wife and I also think my wife helped me so much in my life. I wonder if my wife is happy. I have many things I should appologize about. People who are in the same age group with me mihgt have same kind of emotion when they see this animation.
This animation gave me a hearache and it made me think about my life too.
Originally, this was only animated work without music. After it became sensetional, the band, Muse, seemed to decied to use this animation for their song's promotion video.
Hayao Miyazaki, a renowned animation movie director, will release a new movie next year. This time, there is a very heartwarming news about it. Hayao Miyazaki and his close friend, Isao Takahata, will simultaneously run their works at theaters of Japan.
This reminds me of very significant moment of my life. As a fact, their works once were run at movie theaters in Japan. It's already more than 20 years ago.
Some enthusiastic fans might know that My Nighbor Totoro was released at movie theathers of Japan together with Isao Takahata's work, Grave of Fireflies. Now we might think it's too unrealistic to see both of their works at a time in the same theather because Totoro is a kind of heartwarming story with lovely families and Grave of Fireflies is deeply tragic story with desperate children in the war time. Totoro brings very happy feeling but Fireflies makes us bawl ruthlessly at the sadness of human. I remember how the gap of the two works were seriously deep at the theater. I didn't expect that because I naturally supposed the happy animation works on both of them.
Time proved that both works are real masterpieces. Now both of them are classic for animation lovers.
Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata will work again next year. Miyazaki's work is " Kazetachinu " and Takahata's work is titled " Tales of Kaguyahime ". Kazetatinu is hard to transrate into English but it may be close to say like " The wind is gone ". Takahata's Kaguyahime is a Japanese old tale. I also was told the tale by mygrandmother when I was a child. Detailed stories are not yet officially clear.
Miyazaki's work seems to be based on the old manga work that Miyazaki worked on Model Graphic magazine. The story seems to be about the young time life of a airplane designer. Miyazaki really loves airplanes. I think he might have come back to his favorite movie making just like he made many classics in his early times.
I'm not such an animation fan, but I'm a fan of Miyazaki films. I'm so excited to see this work at his really old age. Miyazki is over 70 years old. This work might be his last one although I don't hope so.
My hometown, Nasu, is in snow beautifully under the blue sky. In this Winter season, I love eating ramen.
Today I went to buy some good ramen at Seven Eleven close to my home. Recently new brand ramen competition is really hard among ramen makers, and they target some real ramen shops in Japan for making new Cup Ramen. Some years ago, cup ramen were strictly differet from dining out ramen places' taste, but for status brand making, some makers are enthusiastic negotiating with popular ramen restautants of Japan and actually some are produced in Japan.
First of all, Ippudo is a very famous Kyushu ramen brand with tonkotsu soup and thin noodles. Ippudo brand cup ramen is now also a very popular one in Japan. Also Santouka ramen has its cup ramen product, which is also sold at convenience stores or food shops in Japan. Both Ippudo and Santouka are also well known in New York or LA because they have popular branches in both cities.
Telling about the taste, Ippudo cup ramen is rated high. It's natural that cup ramen taste is not equivalent to the real one, but actually it has a taste and flavor sense to let us remember the taste of real Ippudo ramen. I like ti very much. However. I don't go for Santouka's cup ramen version. I love Santouka ramen at real restaurants, but its cup ramen version is far from my expecting taste on Santouka brand.
Both are sold at 7-11 or many of convenience stores in Japan, if you love ramen, it's worth trying.
Ramen shelf is everywhere at convenience stores in Japan. Photo is taken at small 7-11 nearmy home. This ramen shelf is very small compared to food stores like super markets in Jaapn. You will see tons of ramens there !
Again today, I went to have sushi. But today's choice was Kaitenzushi( kaitensushi) or sushi train restaurant. I'm not sure how you call this type sushi place in English but asctually rotating belt conveyer's sushi train is seen in many countries nowadays.
In Japan we call it Kaitenzushi. Japanese language often change the pronounciation into the easy way, for example in this case, the original words are Kaiten ( rotating) and sushi and when they got together, it becomes as Kaitenzushi for easy pronounciation. Of course, we understand if you say Kaitensushi.
Like that, today's sushi place I went is called Genkizushi ( originally Genki Sushi). Actually in Hawaii where I once lived in, there is Genkizushi there but in Hawaii they call it Genkisushi. That's maybe becuase American people would not understand if the word, Sushi, is not included correctly.
Anyway, I had sushi at Genkizushi restaurant. This is one of famous rotating sushi train restaurants in Japan and the fish stuff here is very fresh and tasty even if it's rather a sushi place of lower price.
My favorite here is hokkaido fish combo as above photo. Urchin, Scallop, shrimp, and crab are all very delicious. Also the fatty tuna here is fantastic with very reasonable price.
Genkizushi or this type of sushi train restaurants are everywhere in Japan. You should not underrate them because the price is lower. Now competition among sushi train restaurats are really severe, so they always carry the very high standard fish stuff. Otherwise, they can't survive the competition of sushi industry.
I like having sushi at both this type place and traditional type place with sushi cheff at the counter table. Some decades ago, the difference between them were really big. But today, I like both. Of course traditional type ones are really good, at the same time, this modern sushi train places also give us really satisfactory level of sushi.
I was satisfied with sushi at Genkizushi today, and the cost we paid for sushi was less than 2000 yen ( about 28 US dollars) for my wife and me, two persons.
Snow started from December 10th. Today (11th) it was just like the photo. It's not such much snow as this area's standards go, but the first snow is really fun for me and for my dog. He, my dog, loves playing in the snow too.
Today was just another day for me except the snow. I had sashimi and fried oysters for my dinner at home. Dining out is my favorite entertainment but home dinner is also a good relaxation on a casual time like today.
If I'm asked what my best food in Japan is , my answer would be either Sushi or Ramen. It's really hard choice for me because there are so many kindsw of foods in Japan. I just have to judge it according to the frecuency of my meal choice.
If it's only by frequency, I'm sure ramen becomes the top. But it's not possible to kick out Sushi out of my best food list.
Actually, there are mamy good sushi places in Japan and in my nighbour too. One reason I love sushi is that I can take the seat at the counter table and enjoy sushi and conversation with the sushi cheff.
I often understand how the sushi restaurant is really nice by the talk with the cheff. Good cheff are always caring in detail about the sushi stuff, so they soon answer what the best one for the day is. Also watching the cheff works over the glass food case, I understand how they are treating sushi stuff with care. In that sense, sushi cheff are always watched by customers. What a hard work.
Once I build a good relation with the cheff, I like to enjoy the cheff's recommendation.
However, in such busy cities like Tokyo, they are always too busy to talk with us. That's why I sometimes visit my nighbor sushi place for relaxing and enjoyable conversation about sushi. To be honest, I think Tokyo is the best sushi place in Japan as we know that sushi was raised in Tokyo in the history too. If you try sushi for the first time in Japan, it should be in Tokyo or such big cities. Most of the busy sushi places are really fantastic. I don't live in Tokyo, so when I'm in Tokyo I don't hesitate to choose the busy places for my sushi meals.
Today, I was very pleased with the sushi restaurant in my neighbor. It was again a very good sushi dinner experience with everybody there.
Today we had a little snow in Nasu. Trees are decolated in white with snow, which is really beautiful. My dogs are having fun in the garden as opposed to their usual lazy attitude in warm house rooms.
Maybe because it's really cold, we decided to have hot food ! It's chinese at Rin, as always.
We can't miss Mapo Tofu dish when we need hot one. Rin's hot dish is really fantastic and this mapo tofu is much better than what I had in China. Of course, for local Chinese prople, their best one is the Mapo Tofu at their place. But I really love this Mapo Tofu, although I tried same dish many times in Tokyo or Yokohama, or in other countries, I would choose this one for my best.
My wife ordered Tan Tan men, or hot chinese noodle as photos. To be honest, this one is hotter than Mapo Tofu, more correctly speaking, this Tan Tan men makes our tongue shiver and taste sense get fainted.
Both Mapo tofu and Tan Tan men are really hot and we often think no more this hot ones, but after one week or sometimes, we again need that hot food to come back to Rin.
As today's appetizer, we had Gyoza or dumpling. Again this is amazingly good. It's not the standard type of Japanese gyoza, but I have to admit that this is one of the best gyozas I've had in my life.
For lunch today, we had the best choice.
Tonight's dinner was Udon at home. More than 10 years ago, I didn't want to eat Udon at home because it was not good. Actually I tried to search for good udon pack at any supermarkets or food shops in Japan, but in vain anytime.
However, recent revolution on mail order changed this idea completely.
I can order the Sanuki Udon being far away from Shikoku, where Sanuki udon was born. Also the preserving technique of rare udon noodles are amazing both in packaging and in transporting it to my home. Thus, I can have the real Sanuki Udon at home now.
Tonight Udon was really good. But it costs ONLY 100 yen or so for a poerson. Unbelievable !
After udon, I took desert, Japanese orange or mikan.
Mikan is really different from American orange ( California orange or something like that). Mikan is smaller and softer than those of many other countires. In NZ, where I used to live, there was similar orange called Mandarin, but it was not exactly Mikan either.
Mikan is soft and very sweet. It's easy to peel off the skin, so it's Japanese (probably) most popular fruit food, I think.
Mikan is a kind of symbolic food of Japan in Winter. We have always had mikan in Winter on the tables, desks, or on the kotatsu in my memory.
This year, mikan's price seems lower than past years becasue of too much harvest. I can't go without mikan every Winter !
I'm trying to play a Bossanova song called Black Oepheus.
This song remained in my head for a long time since I first listened to this number by Sadao Watanabe and a brazelian musician, Toquinho so long time ago...maybe it was early 1980's.
Staying in Nasu, especially the night time is relaxing with calm environment. In Nasu I want to enjoy Bossanova like music. In urban cities like Tokyo, a little energetic music like rock or fusion jazz could be OK, but here in resort place, rock music is not needed for me.
I've not seen Sadao Watanabe's face for a long time but it's easy to imagine how he got older. Also, I wonder what Toquinho is doing now.
I found a beautiful collaboration play of black orpheus of these two guys.
By the way...yesterday I saw a strange news. Australian prime minister said that mankind will become extinct soon in this month, December of 2012. She seems to believe Maya's legend and she, as such a important person of such a top position of a country, announced on the radio of Australia that we wil perish.
i know some poeple, or not small number of people, also insisted this prediction from several angles of studies.
We don't have time before we disappear if the prime minisiter is telling the truth,
I don't do anything about it, but just in case...Thank you and my life was really good.
Today's news said that Washington state of the USA would eliminate the anti marijuana law and marijuana would not be prohibited any more in the state of Washington. What does it mean ? Recent USA is really strange for me. News also said a few days ago that many of the states of the USA want to be independent from the USA. Are you really healthy, USA ?
I loved "marijuana music" when I was young in high school. Sgt. Pepper or Thedark side of the moon were really stimulative for our generation. That strange feeling like " we do something prohibited " excited us. Apparenlly Beatles, Pink Floyd, or some influential rock groups were using drugs when making music. I've never experienced marijuana (honestly),so I don't know if marijuana is delicious or not ( no joke). BUt I can imagine it would be exciting to use it somehow in our life or in making music because it's prohibited.
The feeling "being prohibited" makes marijuana special essence for our life.
But marijuana seems to be released open sooner or later in the USA. It might be a good chance for me to try it for the first time in my life. I need to plan my trip to USA. Let's trip !!
The reason for this article is that I ate Edamame today. Why do Izakaya often give us edamame as otoushi, or a kind of cover charge making appetizer food ? I've been enjoying Izakaya since I became a college student in Tokyo, it means this unique custom of Izakanya, giving us edamame for the first food, has never been changed for such a long time.
When I lived in other countries, I liked hanging out for food and drinks at night. I always missed something at bars overseas, which was EDAMAME !!!
In Japan, I have edamame just for a trivial food to start drinking beer. At the time in other countries, I noticed edamame is really needed to decolate drinking atomosphere and make my mouth get ready for beer. I'm certainly edamame addicted when I drink beer.
It's not especially delicious food at all, but I, or many of Japanese, need edamame for night time booz.
Meanwhile in summer time, I often have edamame with beer and I thinkedamame is really delicious then. It's such a simple food but edamame surely has something important for our izakaya culture.
Interestingly, I recently sometimes hear that people from UK or USA say that edamame is their real favorite food. Unbelievable ! But if it's true, do they like drinking with edamame ? Or do they simply like edamame as a food ??? It's such a mystery for me.
Come visit me in Nasu ! Let's have beer with edamame !
There is a beautiful outlet mall in Nasu, which sells my favorite fashon brands like Coach, Brooks Brothers, Banana Republic, Dunhill, Hush Puppies, and some shoe brands too. Nasu Outlet Mall is not so busy with many peolpe compared to Karuizawa, or Odaiba outlet malls. Also we can walk dogs inside the mall, so dog lovers like mne like this place very much.
I bought some clothes for Winter. This place really helps my life in Nasu.
After the outlet mall shopping, we went to lunch for pizza. Although the pizza place is reputated good in Nasu, I don(t especially like the taste of the pizza restaurant. Tokyo has much better pizza restaurants than Nasu area we live.
I'm not so craving Italian food in my life, but pizza is my wife and mother's favorite. It was a good day for us all to share fun time with loving 2 dogs.
I like my life in Nasu, but I also have one missing thing in my Nasu life. That's curry restaurants. In Nasu, there are many types of good restaurants but it's really strange that there is no curry rice restaurant in Nasu. We can have curry at family restaurants like Gusto, Cocos, or Denny's around Nasu resort area. However, those places don't meet my curry request, sorry.
I'm a heavy Japanese curry fan. I also love Indian curry, but lack of Japanese curry rice in my life place is a serious problem. When addicted with curry rice, I have to drive far to fill my appetite for curry rice.
Some foreigners in Japan sometimes write blog articles about COCO Ichibanya Curry shop in Japan. I think Coco Ichibanya is the most famous one in Japan, actually the numbers of chain restaurants of COCO ICHI are so many in Japan. Recently Coco Ichi goes out of Japan to open their branches in LA or in Honolulu.
Anyway, rather than talking about world wide network of Coco Ichibanya, I just need MY COCO Ichibanya near my home ! It's hard job for me to drive my car to have their curry up to Koriyama city or Yaita city from Nasu. Actually I do often drive to either of the shops ! I'm craving curry all the time......
What I like most among Coco Ichibanya menue is HIrekatsu Curry ( Fillet Cutlet Curry ) as seen in the photo. Tender pork katsu and combination with rice and curry sauce is my ideal dish for lunch !
A few months ago I could not hold my demand on Coco Ichibanya, and that I wrote an email to headquaters of Coco Ichibanya company requesting seriously they open a new branch in Nasu, or in Shirakawa city. And then I can have good curry whenever I need to. Their answer was not good enough.
My journey for better curry rice is still going on.
Just a trivial blog article for today.
I got back home.
To fill up my hungry stomach, I asked my wife some onigiri. At any convenience stores in Japan they sell onigiri. That's why recently most of us Japanese eat onigiri so often. We can buy them anytime we get hungry no matter if it's midnight.
I like onigiri, but I don't remember eating onigiri often when I was a kid like I do recently. Onigiri was for special occassions like lunch ( bento ) at school, excursion of school, like that, I ate it when we needed handy food with us. Onigiri was a homemade ( mother made) food for any students then in Japan.
Today any food stores sell onigiri, which made onigiri close to our daily life.
I love onigiri of 7-11, Lawson, Family Mart, or any onigiri sold at department stores' basement food floors. But I'm sure that I will want my mother's onigiri or my wife's onigiri if I was about to pass away and if my last meal could be onigiri.
Onigiri has inside staff like plums pickles, grilled salmon, seaweeds, salmon eggs, cod eggs, and recently they often use meat (pork, beef, or chicken) for onigiri. My favorites are grilled salmon and grilled cod eggs. By 7-11 Japan's statistics, the most popular one seems to be tuna & mayonaise onigiri. It's unbelievable for me, it's not Japanese onigiri any more. I know I'm too old to accept the change of times.
I once lived in Hawaii. There in Hawaii, onigiri is very popular. That's mainly because lots of Japanese went to live in Hawaii more than 100 years ago, and they brought Japanese food culture to Hawaii then. So there are many Japanese food related cooking in Hawaii still now. Spam musubi in Hawaii is probably created by idea of onigiri of Japan.
There seems to be a very popular onigiri store called Iyasune Musubi in Hawaii. Reading the reviews of American people at Yelp, some say that the rice of Iyasune onigiri is very soft and moist, and they even say Iyasune is probably using special technique to boil rice softer. Interesting. But I think it's wrong, Iyasune is using Japanese rice, not American rice or any other countries' but Japanese one. That's the biggest reason for soft and moist rice. I've tried making onigiri by using other countries' rice many time ever, but alawys no good result because the rice was not proper for onigiri's texture.
Iyasune in Hawaii is run by Japanese women, it's natural they use Japanese rice there. So the custommers can taste the real onigiri made by Japanese women. Yelp's reviews about the onigiri of Iyasune are extremely high rated. I want many of the reviewers to come to Japan for the real onigiri taste, if possible. I supopse it's much better in Japan.
By the way, what the difference between onigiri and musubi ?
Answer is " all the same ". Just the words are different but both mean the same rice
balls. Onigiri, Omusubi, and Musubi all mean the same rice ball food of Japan. It's just Japanese language use differences. If I expand more on it....it would take more time to explain. Sorry.
Anyway, I now want to eat onigiri !
Today I had a day trip to Tokyo on business. Usually I go to Ginza or Shibuya for my business partner meetings but today's meeting was in Asakusa.
(*photos used here are taken in Summer of 2012)
Asakusa is still remaining old and trraditional face of Japan and Tokyo. They who were born in Asakusa often say that " I'm edokko !". This means they are proud of themselves having been raised in this area. Edokko is an old Tokyo word, still being used sometimes nowadays, and it means kid of Tokyo. Edo is a word of old era of Japan, and Edo means Tokyo in that era. So they called that era " edo jidai, or edo era ". Edo jidai started about 400 years ago by Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and it continued until the modernization of Japan started in Meiji era ( about 150 years ago ).
Asakusa is a good reflection of that Edo time and Meiji time of Japan. Although nearly everything is newly built after the war, some old parts of this town like Sensouji ( photo) are still existing here. But the most important part of old remainings is the spirit of the people living here. Actually I, Japanese, too feel a little different when we visit Asakusa from my nature. Asakusa people are active, cool in talking, and behave like anything-goes nature persons. They don't care triffle things, and they love people's communication. My hometown also loves personal friendship but not that active like Asakusa people.
For my interest, I tried to walk through the old path of old drinking bars (Izakaya). All the small Izakayas are street bar style when it's warm, and it's really fun to stay there being drunken under the Sun or Moon. Food menue and drinks are all really cheap. Aagin the people of the Izakayas are really active and fun, also the custommers here also drink much, eat much ( even if the strange foods are offered), and talk much too.
To be honest, I firstly hesitated to check the Izakayas there because all seemed a little strange and scary for me. But once we sit down and start drinking, the world around us changes soon. It's just the Asakusa street bar world !
I think most of the foreign people would not like the Asakusa street Izakaya because they might look a little dirty and out of fashion. It's true that we Japanese feel the same there, but it's also trie that we can feel ASAKUSA SPIRIT there.
The Izakaya street doesn't represent all the Asakusa at all, but enjoying the atomospher of local people is certainloy one aspect of Asakusa experience for me.
But agai, I don't recommend this experience to all the visitors here. Actually it's not today's bar stayle at all.
Asakusa has some really good traditional Japanese cake shops ( Wagashi shops). Especially, Umezono and Funawa are my favorites. Umezono specializes Zenzai, which is a cup sweet with Anko paste and Mochi. Funawa is especially famous for its Imoyoukan, which is a potato youkan cake. Both have long history and so many fans in Japan.