Sunday, July 26, 2009

Nigauri (苦瓜)

This vegetable is Nigauri. (苦瓜) It is so bitter taste. It is one of special products in Okinawa that an island or other islands in south area of Japan. We also call it "Goya" that is a dialect in Okinawa. Goya was not well- known and eaten in mainland a few years before, however, becomes popular now. We can usually buy it at any supermarkets.

Goya chanpuru is Okinawan cuisine and becomes popular among us. I sometimes cook it and so delicious. It is also very healthy food.
I recently heard that planting Nigauri at home is one of natural prevention for global warming. Vine of Nigauri is like a green curtain to prevent sunshine from getting in through window. It is strong plant and not difficult to nourish. We can eat the fruits. It is isseki nicho
(一石二鳥). 一石二鳥 means "kill two birds with one stone".
I like the bitterness of Nigauri. Goya champuru is a essential food for me in this season.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Firework 花火(Hanabi)

Rainy season is over in Tokyo and hot summer began at last.

Firework is one of essential entertainment for us in summer season. A lot of firework festivals are held in July and August around many areas of Japan. These festivals usually take place near the waterside. Most traditional and biggest festival in Tokyo is Sumida River Firework Festival . It is held on July 25th this year.
Sumida river is located on east area in Tokyo. We call this area "Shitamachi" 下町. Shitamachi is historic place in Tokyo and a row of Japanese traditional houses subsist there.

A lot of people go to the big event every year and enjoy dynamic and beautiful fireworks. Hanabi competition of this festival is a feature. 10 Hanabi companies compete this year. Various and original rockets 打ち上げ花火 (Uchiage hanabi ) bloom like flower in the sky.
Wearing yukata 浴衣, kimono for summer, is Japanese style. Yukata is remarkable Japanese item for young people now.

Uchiage hanabi is gorgeous, in contrast, sparkler 線香花火(Senko hanabi) is very tiny and not gorgeous, however, I like the small sparks and sound. (線香 means incense stick. However, this hanabi has no smell.) When I was a child, I used to play Senko hanabi or small hanabi near my house.

Hanabi disappears soon. We can never see same beautiful hanabi in the sky. Hanabi teach us the present and moment is very important.
If you visit Japan in summer, I recommend to see Hanabi festival and try to play small hanabi.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

島国 (Shimaguni) Island country

There are some battles of various nationalities in the world. I read or see about these world news in recent days. I feel sad when I know these facts.
Japan consists of a lot of small islands as you know and we sometimes say Japan is 島国 (Shimaguni). I think we can live happily without these conflicts.

However,culture or custom is subtly different by two areas, east and west, or 47 prefectures in Japan. Dialect, food culture or various customs as each districts etc.
There is a TV show that introduces differences of each prefectures. I like to see it.
I can know various difficulties and am surprised at them every time. It is like 47 nationalities live here though Japan is a small country. Especially there are a lot of different food cultures in Japan.

Your impression for Japan might be different by places you visit in Japan. This diversity is our feature.