Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ume 梅

I found ume tree today. Ume (Japanese apricot) is a flower and blooming now. The bloom is about 30 % . A flower is very small, however, it is very beautiful.
Sakura is very famous for Japanese flower. Ume is modester than Sakura. The color is white and pink. We can use the fruit as liquor "Ume shu". Also we eat the fruit as traditional preserved food. This is Umeboshi. It is very sour and unique taste. I want to mention Umeboshi some day.

I took some photos. I hope you enjoy beautiful flower.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Japanese animation and Manga is popular in the world. "Sazae-san" is well-known character in Japan. Author is Machiko Hasegawa and this comic strip begun about 60 years ago. The story is based on two families, Isono and Fuguta family. They live together in same house. Now Sazae-san is TV series and on air for 30 minutes every Sunday. I had seen it when I was a child every week and many children watch it now.
"Sazae-san" is no special effect like "Pikachu" or no violence. It has humor. It describes normal Japanese family life, office, school, or holiday, etc. The charasteristic is all character's names. They are related to marine name. For example, "Sazae-san" is a main character and housewife. Her name "Sazae" in Japanese means turban shell. Her family name is "Fugu"ta. "Fugu" means is blow fish. Other main family members are:
"Masu"o (Trout) He is her husband and business man
"Tata"o (cod) , her son
"Iso"no family (stony shore)
"Nami"hei (wave) , her father
"Fune" (boat) , her father
"Katuo" (bonito) , her younger brother
"Wakame" (soft seaweed) , her younger sister
And "Tama", a pet cat , His name has no marine name. I don't know why.
Each stories are very heartwarming and simple. We can laugh naturally. Parents can make their young children watch without hesitating. And adults can laugh and enjoy it enough.
After the program is over, we think that tomorrow is Monday and new week will begin tomorrow.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Okinawa is one of prefecture in Southern area and consists of some islands. Culture of Okinawa is unique compared to the main island of Japan (we call Hondo it). All of the culture, lifestyle, food, music are very interesting for Japanese and very popular as sightseeing and resort. It is known as longevity.
Okinawa has complicated history. It was battlefield and people in Okinawa, even citizen, fought against American troop during World War Ⅱ and experienced a lot of tragedies. America occupied it after the war and it was returned to Japan at 1972.
Now some American troops are stationed there. People are annoyed with many problems of American bases. Noise of air force planes, criminal matters for American soldiers or cost for transference of base etc. About a week ago an American soldier was arrested as rape. Similar cases happened there a lot times in the past. It is a serious problem in Japan and the case is frequently reported by mass media in Japan.
American troops matter is controversial issue for all of Japanese, too. Japan must consider about our security guard and decide our principle. We choose to live under the umbrella of American troop or not.
Okinawa is surrounded beautiful blue sea. It is a paradise in Japan. On the other side, influence of the war still remains in spite of passing more than a half of a century after our defeat.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Nabe Ryori

What do you eat in cold winter ? We, Japanese want to eat Nabe Ryori (cooking) in winter. Nabe means ware (earthen) pot in Japanese.
Nabe Ryori has a lot kinds. The simplest Nabe is Mizu-taki. We put many ingredients into hot Dashi water. After they are boiled, we dip them in Ponzu. Ponzu is sour soy sauce. If you have eaten "Shabu Shabu", I'd like to recall it. You can put anything , vegetables, fishes, meat or Tofu. We take them out of big one pot one by one. Mizu-taki is OK to only prepare these ingredients and sauce. Very simple.
Some people, friends or family gather around one table and one pot. And we can eat and enjoy it at same time. Also the sound of boiling is comfortable and I can feel happy. It is excellent for party in cold winter. We often say " Today's dinner is Nabe Ryori . " or "Let's have Nabe party ! "
After we almost finish to eat the boiled ingredients, last pleasure is waiting. We call it "Shime". We put boiled rice or Japanese noodle "Udon" and soy souce or Miso as flavor in hot Dashi water. It is so delicious. We can enjoy different plate twice.
Nabe Ryori makes our cold body warm and we feel satisfied. It is symbol for good relationship for family or friends. And we feel our happiness during eating it .

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Figure Skating

I personally like figure skating. Figure skating has been for Western countries sports for a long time. However, Asian skaters compete with other skaters in final stage now.
Japanese skaters, Daisuke Takahashi and Mao Asada got a gold medal in 2008 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Korea this week. I can’t believe Asian, two Japanese skaters could win. Though high ranking skaters did not take part in this competition, I couldn’t imagine Japanese skaters can win. Takahashi and Asada got high points for technical elements and artistic impression. Their skating fascinated audiences. Elegance and posture of Western people is superior than Asian. Long leg and shapely body etc… We had always inferiority complex for Western people. However, Japanese posture changes now.
Daisuke Takahashi is strong skating and has technical talent. And he is famous for elegance straight line step. His short program in this year is excellent.
And Mao Asada is very popular in Japan. She is still 17 years old and her good rival is Korean skater, Yuna Kim. She is very beautiful skater, too. Mao is like a ballet dancers on ice.
In Torino Olympic game, Shizuka Arakawa won as first Asian female single skater. Japanese were enthused with her skating in Japan. After Olympic the competitions were on air in TV. Japanese people can cheer Japanese skaters at home. Also Japanese skater, Miki Ando won in 2007 World cup.
2008 World cup will be held in Sweden. These skaters will take part in. If Tkahashi and Asada could win, they would be real world champion.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Why is this title “Mac”? You might think Mac is not Japanese company. Yes, It is American computer company as you know. Recently Japanese young people have i-pod series. I see a lot of people who are listning to the music by I- pod in town. I have I-pod Nano, too.
The style of these products is just Japanese taste. Japanese makers, SONY, CANNON, SHARP etc. have manufactured a lot of merchantable products until now. The features are very small size, light, simple design, high quality and technology. These concepts of Japanese makers were reasons to fascinate customers and make a hit with other countries people. Electric industry is one of symbol of our technology. However, I-Pod series are popular among Japanese people so far. And they will be a kind of threat for Japanese electric company.
Now I have an interested TV commercial and frequently see it in TV. This is updated Mac’s note PC, Macbook Air. The thickness is very thin. I thought it was SONY’s commercial at first. Also I thought instinctively Japanese people liked this PC.
I recently went to Apple Store in Ginza, a town in Tokyo. A lot of people were there as my expected and tried to touch keyboards. This Macbook Air will be popular in Japan in near future.
But, Japanese makers can’t accept the situation with their arms folded. They will innovate and generate new products considering Japanese nationality. I hope…..

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Chocolate Battle

Plenty of ladies are flooded in chocolate shops around St. Valentine day ( I think that this is conspiracy of Japanese chocolate makers.)
The day is that women give chocolate box to boyfriend to confess their love in Japan. However, custom of St. Valentine day was changing some decades ago.
Working women gave some co-workers in their belonged section. Of course, they had no affection for co-workers. It is like an appreciated feeling for them. We call the chocolate “Giri - Choco”. “Giri”(義理) in Japanese means duty or obligation. Women have bought a lot of cheap chocolates for them.
Now the trend is changing again. A lot of women buy for themselves. However, the custom for giving to boyfriends is unchangeable anytime. Many special chocolate shops, not only Japanese makers but French, Italy, or Belgian famous makers and shops of famous chocolatairs are opened around only St. Valentain day. Many girls and women crowd in front of chowcases. Especially famous chocolates are so expensive. It isn’t price for a piece of chocolate. But it is true that there are a lot of kinds of delicious and high quality chocolates that we can’t buy as usual. (I love chocolates !)
So the shops frame a plan to attract women. They will buy sweet chocolates thinking someone this week. ( It might be themselves.) This is as if chocolate battle.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Food Crisis

Japanese food culture is threatened with imported agricultural products or processed foods. It now is a very serious problem in Japan. Recently two agricultural chemicals were found in frozen dumplings. It is a big topic in Japan. A lot of people who ate those dumplings are victims. Some people are seriously sick now. Cause is currently unknown and we are investigating.
A lot of frozen products that are sold in supermarket are made in China, therefore they are produced in Chinese factory and imported in Japan. Because production costs, mainly personal costs in China are very cheap.
The problem is depending on other countries for our food; vegetables, fruits or processed food. The rate of self-sufficiency in Japan is very low. Japanese farmers are decreasing and rural young people come to urban center. It is a problem.
I have mentioned that “Japanese food culture is excellent “ several times in my blog. However, I think this situation is very shameful for Japanese people. We have to produce our own food and current situation about contaminated dumplings is a chance to think about Japanese agriculture and our food culture. It might be our last warning.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


It snowes in Tokyo.
Today is Setsubun that we do a ritual for sweeping demon and wishing our health. We scatter dry soyneans inside and outside our house shouting two phrases. I explain basic ritual. When we scatter beans outside, we say "Oni-wa Soto" twice. When we scatter them inside, we say 'Fuku-wa Uchi" once and we throw them into the room.
Oni-wa Soto means our wish that demon would desappear and Fuku-wa Uchi means another wish that happiness would be coming to our house in the future.
We do same ritual in each rooms. Sometimes one man dresses up with mask as a Japanese demon "Oni" and we hit them against Oni. We call this ritual "Mame-maki" (Scattering dry beans) in Japanese. There is a custom that we eat scattered same number of beans of our age after Mame-maki.
The children's voices, " Oni-wa Soto " and "Fuku-wa Uchi" will reverberate through the snow this year.