I am a bit annoyed that although it is the middle of November, I am still writing some posts about my stay in Japan in October. I really should hurry up! I try to post something I encountered in Japan that does not occur to me in England. And this was one of those things.
I like gardening and I particularly like growing something edible. I have tried planting various things and some become successful and some are completely failure. As I mentioned before I learnt that Okra/Ladys’ Finger is the biggest No-no plant in London and another I gave up even before trying is this plant.
This plant was in my mother’s garden. I was looking forward to being there when they harvest it. Do you know what this plant is?
The main reason I went back to Japan this time was that my family had a Buddhism memorial service called ‘Hohji (法事)’. A Monk visited our home and gave us a prayer service. It lasted about 30 minutes to an hour. It was not that long but you had to be seating on a ‘Tatami (たたみ)’ mat and that was the toughest part of it. We of course sat on a cushion ‘Zabuton (座布団)’ but since I’ve been living in the UK for a while now and not used to seating on my leg … My legs became numb. The monk told us to sit in any position we felt comfortable and followed by telling us that he knew somebody who had broken her/his bone because s/he had tried to stand up and stumbled due to numbed legs. It was a hilarious story that we thought a little too extreme. Anyway we finished our prayers, thanked and said good-bye to the monk. None of us broke our bones luckily.
Before the service we had a special lunch for the day.
One of the things I was looking forward to when I went back to Japan was of course ‘Manju (まんじゅう)’ the Japanese sweet. I can make some by myself but I just wanted to try some very good ones that I cannot find in London.
As I mentioned previously in “the Taste of Autumn” we are sensitive to changing seasons in Japan and ‘Wagashi (和菓子)’ the Japanese sweet is no exception. At the very beginning of Autumn the colour/pattern/ingredients of Japanese sweets have been already changed into Autumn theme.
In the heart of Nagoya in Japan I found a very old-fashioned ‘Ramen’ shop in the basement of a building. Ramen shops in London try to look fashionable (and charge more) but all the Ramen shops used to be like this shop in very retro style when I was a child. It looked so nostalgic and I could not resist going inside …
What is ‘Autumn’ for you?
Autumn in Japanese is ‘Aki‘ and written as ‘秋‘. The character is made from two parts. The left part shows what it is connected to and in this case ‘禾 (Nogi-hen)’ means the character is something to do with ‘Crop’. The right part is ‘火 (Hi)’ which means ‘Fire’. So by combining two parts together the character means ‘Drying Crop (by Fire)’. Japan has a culture of growing rice plants for many many years and we harvest it in Autumn. Traditionally we dried cut plants by hanging it in the field for weeks before threshing grains so it does make sense that Autumn is the time for ‘Drying Crop’ before a cold winter comes.
In Japan Autumn is described in several ways. We say Autumn is for Harvesting. Autumn is for Reading Books, Autumn is for Arts & Excercise. However, the most important thing about Autumn and we should never ever forget is that Autumn is for ‘Taste’ and ‘Appetite’.
The Taste of Autumn – ’Matsutake’ mushroom and ‘Kuri’ chestnuts
The 21st of September was ‘Respect for the Aged Day (敬老の日)’ this year in Japan. It was one of the National Holidays for showing our respect and care for elderly people.
Bento on ‘Respect for the Aged Day (敬老の日)’
We ordered some Bento from a well known restaurant for my mother on ‘Respect for the Aged Day (敬老の日)’. The Bento was particularly planned for elderly people with the idea of 1. Easy to eat 2. with good source of various nutrients and 3. of course it had to be good quality food. We made a clear soup called ‘O-suimono‘ to go with it.
The ingredients and decoration was made in an Autumn theme. The amount of food was just enough ‘Hara Hachibunme (腹八分目）’ (‘Hara’=stomach, ‘Hachibunme’=80%) for us. It means moderate eating up to 80 percent in stomach is the key for a healthy life.
I apologise that I could not post regularly recently whilst I was staying in Japan but I am back in London now and hope I can get back on track. My stay in Japan was mainly for a family matter but I made some small trips and had some good food experiences in my spare time so I am going to publish some posts from today.
Red Spider Lily ‘Higanbana (彼岸花)’ along Yakachi River
So, my first catch-up post during my visit in Japan is about the little trip I made in September to see this famous area that was covered with Red Spider Lilies ‘Higanbana‘ (Lycoris radiata) which is also called Cluster Amaryllis in English. 3 million flowers were literally clustered around in this vast area along the bank of Yakachi river in Handa, Aichi prefecture.
It was just a magnificent view of a red stripe of flowers spreading as far as you could see.
I am in Japan now. Because of some technical issue (I don’t mean Japan is technically behind though) I have not been able to post as often as I would want to do.
“Autumnal Equinox Day (秋分の日)”
The 23rd of September was our national holiday “Autumnal Equinox Day (秋分の日)”. After this day the length of the daytime gets shorter than the nighttime day by day so this was officially the end of summer.
Still it is quite hot and humid here. The daytime temperature now is just below 30°C so it is almost the same as the hottest summer day in London.
In the garden Okra is still flowering and we can harvest some. Okra is one of the vegetables I wanted to grow in London and gave up after trying for a few years. It does sprout and gets cotyledons – the first leaves but … never reaches to the point having true leaves. So, I am happy to see the plant growing here. It’s been a bit late but some Peanuts plants are also growing in the garden here. I am looking forward to harvesting home-grown Peanuts sometime soon.
They look delicious, but you cannot eat them?!
This is the last post on the Report of my visit to Japan. It is also supposed to be the post for Day 4 (yes, I am a little bit behind) of the ‘Blogging101’ so I am adding an element I haven’t done yet.
We Japanese say “Eat food with our eyes”. As well as being tasty Food has to be colourful & beautiful.
Looks delicious but not edible
You might know there is a unique Industry in Food Business in Japan. It is Food Model making for window displays. In my childhood they were everywhere. Almost all restaurants had them at their entrance. The purpose is simple. They show what the foods of the restaurant look like, the kind of ingredients the dishes have and most importantly they are there for attracting customers!
It’s been nearly three months since I started my blog. I am slowly getting what I have to do as a blogger but in order to do it properly I am going to follow the instruction of “Blogging 101” & “Photo 101” for the next few weeks. Today is Day 1, so let me re-introduce myself to you.
Who I am and Why I am here?
I am Japanese and live in London. I like creating things, anything visual but particularly FOOD. I love eating and making food. So did you guess? Yes, I am a Food blogger. I post what I make & eat or show you something I think interesing.
As a Japanese foodie I would like to introduce you to Japanese food other than just Sushi. I am passionate about making Japanese Sweets. They are very different from any western sweets. Many of them are Dairy/Egg/Gluten-Free. I have been planning to post ‘How to Make Japanese Sweets’ for a while, however, I had to rearrange my plan to post starting from the very basics. So it is taking a little bit longer but don’t worry I will start posting very soon.
Supermarket in my Home Town, Japan
I just came back from Japan and my blog is in the middle of the report on Visiting Japan, so for another assignement ‘HOME’ I introduce to you the Supermarkets in my Home Town in Japan.
There are three supermarkets near my mother’s house. They are all ordinary sizes and nothing special in Japan. However, what you find there is a feast for the eyes.
‘Sashimi’ always looks so fresh & very inviting in Japan.
Guess what this is?