Saturday, May 31, 2008

Mito Komon - Jidaigeki

Elder people like to watch Jidaigeki in TV. Jidaigeki is a period play and a kind of entertainment.
The title "Mito Komon " is the most famous and popular Jidaigeki and character in Japan. Mito Komon is an actual person in Edo period. He is a member of Tokugawa family. Tokugawa family is the sovereign in Edo period. This program is series drama and periodically has been on air every Monday night about for forty years.
This drama is like road movie. The story is fiction and so simple. Mito Komon is an old man and has some followers. He travels with them around Japan masquerading as merchant party. Main followers are two strong bodyguards, Suke-san Kaku-san, beautiful ninja, Ogin, male ninja, Kazaguruma(pinwheel) no Yashichi and funny guy, Hachibei. Almost Japanese will know these characters.
They stay a town for a while and there is definitely a trouble there. He investigates it and the party heat bad guys. They are almost powers or officers (Daikan) in the town or village. They torment with the commoners or poor people.
The biggest highlight in this drama is a scene in last 10 minutes. Kaku-san put out "inrou" after battling with the villains. Inrou is a kind of small case with a crest. Mito Komon's inrou is "Aoi" (geranium) crest for Tokugawa Shogun Family. Kaku-san shouts showing this inrou to everyone, "Look at this crest. He is Mito Komon " Everyone has thought he was just a normal retired, however, the people including villains are surprised with confession and know that he is a Mito Kokon. After the confession, everyone grovels before Mito-Komon.
This climax of drama is always same but dramatic for the audience. They wait for the scene. That is to say, they want to see that justice always wins and villains are beaten.
One season of this drama is for half a month. If you stay in Japan for one year, you will definitely be able to see Mito Komon in TV.
This is the title song. (It is well known song for us.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Green Tea - Ryokucha

We frequently drink tea, English tea, Chinese tea, other leaf tea, etc. We customarily drink green tea, Ryokucha, every day.
A lot of kinds of green tea in vinyl bottle or can are sold in supermarket or convenience store. You will be surprised at the variation in Japan. We can drink easily outside now. It is a remarkable item of Japanese food culture. And it is essential for our life.
The taste is a little bitter but pleasant. Green tea is suitable for whatever foods, I think. I feel relief when I drink green tea. There are a lot of kinds of green tea, sencha, matcha, houjicha, genmaicha, etc. It is different for the use and how to enjoy. You can know this.
How to draw hot basic green tea.
  1. Put the hot water into the teacup. (This is to measure proper quantity for drink.)
  2. Put about green tea leaves of 3 grams per one person into the pot for green tea, Kyusu.
  3. Put the hot water in the each teacups into the pot. (This is to cool hot water.)
  4. Wait for a few minutes until the leaves are opened. Don’t shake the pot.
  5. Put tea in each teacups little by little.You can drink twice or three times by same leaves. If you draw tea at the second time, you should put into hot water. (You may not cool it.)
Normal Japanese teacup, Yunomi chawan, don’t have a handle. Because it is for feeling moderate heat to drink. Green tea oxidizes easily for shot time. So you had better drink soon.
We realize the good effects on green tea for our health again. It is very healthy drink. These are deodorized and antibacterial effects. If you have a chance, I recommend that you try it.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Now almost Japanese houses are western style, the room with carpet or flooring, sit down sofa, eat foods sitting down chairs, sleep on the bed, etc. However, there is one Tatami room in almost houses. I think that it is special for Japanese people.
We can relax better in Tatami room. In case of general Tatami room, there is a low table there. We sit on the Tatami mat and eat something or talk with family. When someone visits and stay in the Tatami mat, there is a special thin cushion, Zabuton and we arrange it.
You can see the life on Tatami room in old Japanese movies, for example Yasujiro Ozu film. It is comfortable to nap without Futon on Tatami mat on holiday. The hardness of it is suitable for a nap. The line of Tatami is sometimes marked on our face at a nap. It is very funny. However, Tatami mat is a token of calm Japanese daily life.Tatami is made from rush. New tatami is especially unique and good smell. When I walk on the Tatami mat, I feel calm. There is a proverb. New Tatami and wife is better.
When you would stay in Japanese style hotel, Ryokan, you would spend the comfortable time on Tatami room.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Kotodama - Otsukare-sama and Okage-sama

We often say that a soul (Tamashii) inhabits in the words and phrases. We call it "Kotodama"in Japanese.
There are some words of phrases that express thanks and appreciation. I show you two words, Otsukare-sama and Okage-sama.
"Otukare-sama" is used when co-workers go away from work or co-worker goes back to the office. We can say only “Otsukare-sama” to co-worker. Japanese “Tsukare” means tiredness. So we imagine the co-worker’s job will be so hard and he (she) probably must be tired after work. And we say “Otsukare-sama to the co-worker in order to express our thanks for their work. The word is very short. But it has the meaning of compassion or appreciation. It is used frequently and one of colloquial formula.
About another word, “Okage-sama” , we haven’t heard it recently in Japan. It is a greeting word and very Japanese like. I like this word. Okage in Japanese basically means the grace or help of all of things, Buddha or someone. We can say as good and bad meanings. When we have some troubles or disease and we could solve these troubles or the disease cures, we say it to someone as beginning words. Okage-sama expresses appreciation for all of things that bring the solution. I heard “Okage-sama” the other day in TV. An old farmer used this word for his abundant harvest in his interview. I have forgotten the word. I keep my mind that I live safely and happily now by the grace of all of things. It is by Okage-sama.
I want to say good "Kotodama" every day.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Southern All Stars

Now a lot of fans are sad to hear the news now. Southern All Stars is a very popular and super Japanese band. They declared the pause to play as a band recently.
The lead vocal, Keisuke Kuwata composed every songs and almost of them have been in the charts. We always call the band “Southern” (Japanese pronunciation is "sazan".) as abbreviated name.
“Southern” has played for 30 years and people especially love his love songs. The fans or not will have sung his songs once at Karaoke. I am one of them. He has husky voice. I like his voice. We are touched with the melody and his lyrics and our experiences overlap. His songs remind Shonan Kaigan (shore) and their various (sweet) memories for his fans. Shonan shore is one of surfing spot in Kanagawa prefecture near Tokyo . Some songs are based on this place. The fans used to go to the sea with boyfriends or girlfrend listening to sazan's songs in the car.
“Katte-ni Sindbad“ was a debut song and very sensational thirty years ago.
“ Itoshi-no Ellie” is one of the most famous song in Japan and was covered as English version by Ray Charles , “Ellie my love”.
“Tsunami” was super hit song in 2000. We are sad to not be able to hear Southern’s performance for a while, however, the songs are alive in our mind.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Taking off shoes

When we enter our house or stay in Japanese style hotel, we definitely take off our shoes.We distinguish outside from inside.
We think that the shoes are dirty. This means the ground outside is not clean. Therefore, we think entering the house putting on the shoes is dirty. I hesitate that I sit down the street or ground directly and putting on my bags or food on the ground. You might think that it is too nervous. Recent some young Japanese people do these actions without hesitating. I think it is not good manner. Almost Japanese will agree with my opinion.
Our houses have a space to take off and put on shoes in front of the door, is called Genkan and shoes box aside.
Japanese feel relief at first after taking off our shoes when we arrive at home and we can relax in our house. Taking off shoes is as if to release our tension or tiredness in daily life. I can't relax putting on shows in the house or room from a sanitary standpoint. We don't get used to put on shoes in the house or room .
Good manner for shoes is to arrange them to be able to put on the shoes soon and easily when you go out . If someone visits our house, we will arrange the guest’s shoes. Also, if you visit other people’s house, you had better arrange your own shoes.
I think taking off shoes in the house is good custom. Would you try to feel at home without shoes in your house ?

Sunday, May 18, 2008


UNIQLO is Japanese casual wear brand and chain store. This brand becomes popular for about a decade in Japan.
It’s like GAP, American brand. The goods are very reasonable and cheaper than usual casual brands. Seasonable special sales or campaign are constantly held. Design of shirts, pants, jeans are very simple and each shirt has a lot of color variations. It is convenience for us to buy favorite ones without constraint. Reasonable price and simple design are good points for the shops. Since we wear away these shirts by frequent washing soon, we can renew them easily.
Sophisticated advertisement is remarkable. Famous Japanese actors or models are used in the advertisement. The shops are always crammed with the customers. I have a lot of shirts.
UNIQLO shops are opened in USA, some Asian and European cities. Does people in these cities like this Japanese brand ?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Rescue Robots

Now two disasters occurred in Asia. They are cyclone in Myanmar and big earthquake in China. We feel as if these disasters are our own affair. Both situations are so terrible.
Japan suffers some disasters all the year. They are some typhoons before summer and frequent earthquakes. Many structures, houses, buildings, or subways in our cities are constructed in order to prevent these buildings from collapsing. We can’t have still disappeared the damages of disasters in spite of our advance provision for disasters.
After big earthquake of Hanshin and Awaji in 1995 (About six thousand four hundred people are died), we have researched activity for rescue and prepared various systems or supply. For example, rescue dogs, telephone services or the routes of relief.
Some rescue robots are developed in Japan recently. These robots have the newest technology and they are very useful for finding the people under the debris. I found the web site for the robots. The Japan Journal
Japanese government offered the support for China. Chinese government accepted it. I don't know these robots are used this time. However, I hope Japan helps the victims and contribute to the world.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Umeboshi is a preserved food. It is that a salted the fruits of Japanese apricot, Ume. We often eat Umeboshi. It is very healthy food and taste is super sour.
When we see Umeboshi and we just imagine the taste, our saliva exudes naturally in our mouth.The fruit is green and we call it Ao ume. After the flowers bloom, the fruits are gathered and we mainly make Umeboshi and Ume shu. After Ume is salted and stained by red labiates, Shiso, it is soaked in the sun and dried.
Ume shu is one of Japanese liquor. It is very sweet fruit liquor. There are two types for drink. One type is mixed with water and another one is Ume shu on the rock. I love Ume shu.
Umeboshi is traditional food. It was used as a fork medicine for a long time ago. It is included in disinfectant and antibacterial effect. When I have stomachache after eating something, I sometimes eat Umeboshi.
We often put Umeboshi in the middle of the white rice for the lunch box to not go bad soon. It is called “Hinomaru Bento”. Hinomaru is name of Japanese national flag. When we take the lid off, lunch box seems to be Japanese flag. The real reason to put Umeboshi in the rice is for antibacterial effect. Also we can use it in other food as special taste. The sourness of Umeboshi gets an accent of the taste. Japanese love Umeboshi and we will eat it forever.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Furoshiki - Eco Bag

We have to think about reducing garbage and wastes for the universe. Eco bag is recently more popular in Japan. When we go shopping, we are given vinyl bag for putting things in after buying. Japanese consume a lot of these bags and it is a problem for environment. We buy and use Eco bags to reduce them and this action is thought as the sign of thinking of earth. When we go to supermarket or convenience store, we say "No vinyl bags" to clerk at the register. (However, I often think it is a trend. Because some people buy expensive these bags of brands and are satisfied. I doubt they are really thinking of environment.)
Anyway, it is important to do something for environment conservation. But there was a traditional custom in Japan. It is Furoshiki. Furoshiki is a square cloth and we used it as the material of wrapping. A Furoshiki has a lot of various ways to use. I bought a book of Furoshiki and large Furoshiki. It is very light and simple. Very convenient ! Only a cloth ! This is global Eco system. I found the website in English. You can try Furoshiki Bag.

This is my Furoshiki. The design is Hyotan (Gourd).

Monday, May 5, 2008

Kodomono-hi (Tangono-Sekku) - Children's Day

Today is Kodomono-hi and national holiday in Japan. Kodomono-hi is traditional event for children, especially boys.

As Hina-Matsuri (March 3) the parents celebrate growth of their sons. Kabuto (Japanese helmet) is decorated in the house. And Koi-Nobori are hung out. Koi-Nobori is like flag that is shaped a carp (Koi). When Koi-Nobori wave in the blue sky, They seem to swim up a river.
As traditional custom, the parents measure son's height each year marking on the pillar. They can check their growth by the mark. There is a children's song of this custom. However, I don't know if this custom continues.

Since I am a woman, I don' t have special memories. However, I eat Japanese special sweets "Kashiwa (Oak) mochi". Mochi (rice cake) with anko (azuki beans paste) is wrapped in Oak leaf.
I enjoy eating it every year.

I hope all children will grow up healthfully in future.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Culture of Other Countries

I have enjoyed two Italian cultures, painting and film, yesterday.
Especially Tokyo have a lot of art museums, concert halls, galleries, etc. Many festivals or special exhibitions for culture of other countries are held here. We can always enjoy these events.

The National Art Center was opened last year in Roppongi. This museum is designed by a Japanese famous and international architect, Kisho Kurokawa (He was died last year.). I went there to see the exhibition of Modigliani. The museum is so modern and space is so wide and the furniture of natural materials is used. I liked it. And the exhibition was so nice. A lot of people enjoyed this exhibition.

Post card of my favorite picture

I went to Italian Film Festival 2008 in the afternoon. We can 11 Italian films for 6 days in the festival. Some Film festivals like this are often held, too. We can see almost Hollywood films anytime. Also we can frequently see popular some films of other countries in movie theater nowadays. I saw a Italian film, "Centotiodi" that my friends recommended. It was so interesting and I thought it was philosophical film. And I could know the Italian people, life and culture. (Every audiences were given a packet of dry spaghetti of Barilla. What spaghetti will I cook ?)

Anyway, Japanese people can always enjoy different cultures.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Now Takenoko is in season. It is eaten in some Asian countries and so delicious. Boiled Takenoko is moderately tough to eat. Takenoko Gohan (Rice) makes me feel spring. Takenoko has strong and special scum (Aku). We have to eliminate the scum before eating. However, we can buy Takenoko without scum easily at supermarkets.
Bamboo (Take) is so familiar plant in our life for long time. Taketori Monogatari is the old story that was written in the beginning of 10 century.We have used Take as furniture materials, cups, toys, skewers, musical instrument, canteen etc.
Takesumi ( Take charcoal ) has various effects for purification of the air and water, elimination of humidity or deodorant. Takesumi emits minus ions.We can often see Bamboo forest (Chikurin). Since the roots is very strong that they can break through the asphalt of the streets near the forest. I like Bamboo forest in summer. Because it is so cool in Bamboo forest and atmosphere get quite. We feel relaxed.
Bamboo grass (Sasa) is a kind of Take and has very thin branches. Sasa leaves were used as wrapping tools for food at old time. And children made a boat of leaf and they float the boat on stream or river. Sasa is essential for Panda to live. (Only a panda in Japan, Ling Ling was died for senility the day before yesterday.) We use Sasa at Tanabata day , the Star Festival. (July 7)
Anyway, take is essential plant for our life.