Author Archives: moshimoshimo

About moshimoshimo

I'm Japanese. I love cats, coffee, reading books, eating snacks, taking naps and doing Tai Chi♪

Bitter 758 Coffee: Why don’t you try “Nagoya” coffee?

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An interesting article caught my eyes when I opened the newspaper (The Chunichi) on August 30th morning:

Bitter 758 (Nagoya) Coffee ~ A long-established company and Nagoya Institute of Technology “blend” coffee together~
Ito Coffee Shokai, a long-established coffee beans wholesale firm in Higashi-ku, Nagoya, and Associate Professor Takanori Ito (the environmental design) of Nagoya Institute of Technology’s Graduate School have co-developed coffee featuring its strong taste like other Nagoya’s local food, such as miso-katsu (fried pork with sweet soy bean paste) and tebasaki (spicy fried chicken wings). They have named the coffee “758 (Nagoya) Coffee” and are going to sell it on the top floor of the Nagoya TV Tower on 30th (Yasuyuki Ichikawa)20140830_142038

     It tasted strong and bitter when I sipped the coffee, just as it was intended. The coffee’s feature is its strong taste and bitterness. They insisted on making the coffee stronger and bitterer than usual ones. “We’re very proud of releasing this new coffee,” said Aiko Ito, one of the coffee company executives. Ito Coffee Shokai being established in 1951 is one of the oldest coffee beans wholesale companies in Nagoya. This project began with Associate Professor Ito’s approach to them to create new taste coffee to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Nagoya TV Tower. They researched Nagoya citizens’ taste with three types of coffee in July and August. As the result, about 80% of the subjects chose the bitterest one as “Nagoya taste.” Why do Nagoya’s people like bitter and strong coffee? According to Mr. Toshiyuki Otake, a freelance writer who knowing well about the culture of Japan’s coffee shops, said, “People tend to like the strong taste of miso, or soy bean paste and so on, in Nagoya. Bitter coffee matches strong flavor food.” Associate Professor Ito presumed that they might feel like they had gotten their money’s worth because of the extra content that gave the extreme taste as people in the Nagoya area tend to be prudent. 20140830_141012

     Hmm…They are going to sell the coffee on 30th…30th…Oh, it’s today! I realized it, and left for the Nagoya TV Tower right away. Why? You’ll get the answer when you read under this blog’s title. Yes! I love coffee! I wanted to try the new coffee as a coffee lover. The Nagoya TV Tower finished its role as an electric wave tower in 2011, since when it has been used as a sightseeing attraction. But it is still a symbol of Nagoya. Nevertheless, I had never ascended the tower until that day…So, I thought it would be a nice opportunity to go there, too. 20140830_134920-a

     Actually, there were two other big events in the area that day: Domatsuri and 24 Hour Television. Nippon Domannaka Festival a.k.a Domatsuri is the largest dance festival in central Japan. Many people get together for the event from all over Japan and dance and dance and dance! On the other hand, 24 Hour Television is a kind of charity program. Because of those events, it was very crowded around the tower. 20140830_140048

     There was sanctuary above the hustle and bustle. I saw many people on the top floor of the tower, but they were enjoying the scenery over coffee calmly. The view from the top was fantastic. And the Nagoya taste coffee was also nice. It was not as strong or bitter as I had imagined possibly because I am a Nagoyan, myself. By the way, the coffee’s name “758” is read “na-go-ya.” 7 can be read ‘na,’ 5, ‘go’ and 8, ‘ya’ in Japanese. It is a kind of play on words. Ito Coffee Shokai is going to sell the coffee beans for 758 yen per 200 grams at their shop soon!

The 66th Mainichi Shodo Exhibition Tokai: You have to calculate to make something look beautiful…

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IMG_0001     Are you interested in calligraphy? Actually, I am not so much either writing or appreciating letters. But I like the atmosphere of its exhibitions. This might sound contradictory but calligraphy exhibitions have both energetic and calm airs. It was the end of last month when a friend of mine and I went to see the Mainichi Shodo Exhibition at Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art. My friend’s sister showed one of her calligraphies at the exhibition, too. IMG_0002

     It was the 66th Mainichi Shodo Exhibition. They began in 1948 three years after the end of World War II. I think they decided, despite many difficulties to hold the exhibition in the chaos of the post-war period, when people were still struggling for their lives. They also struggled to hand over the torch of Japan’s calligraphy culture to the post-war generation. 毎日

     There are many kinds of calligraphy in Japan. In fact, the Mainichi Shodo Exhibition has nine categories: Chinese Character I (more than 21 letters), Chinese Character II (3 to 20 letters), Japanese kana Character I (more than 3 Japanese waka poems or more than 5 haiku poems), Japanese kana Character II (1 or 2 Japanese waka poems or 1 to 4 haiku poems), modern poetic calligraphy, large character calligraphy, seal engraving, wood carving, and avant-garde calligraphy (they are not “letters” anymore…) The exhibition had 8 rooms and more than 1200 works this year.

     To tell the truth, I cannot understand them when I look at calligraphies. I cannot tell a big difference between one which has received a prize and another one which has not. They look almost the same for me as letters written in black ink on the white paper…So, I usually walk around the big exhibition place, looking up at calligraphies with my mouth open, and then get tired and become a zombie two hours later. But the situation was different this year. I joined a guided tour. 2毎日

     Some judges picked up some exhibits and explained them. Especially, Mr. Tosen Sato’s lecture was interesting. According to him, the most important thing is to think about the composition carefully. In his case, it takes him nearly half a year to decide the structural outline for showing a work at an exhibition. Then he writes letters on the paper only two or three times. He said, “You don’t need to waste much paper,” and showed some classic works by an ancient calligrapher. There were many lines on the examples like engineering drawings. He studies many things, such as angles, from those classics. I was very surprised at his lecture because I had thought that they must have written letters from their hearts…It seems that you have to “calculate” to make something look beautiful…Some calligraphy works looked different after the guided tour!

The Tai Chi Workshop: These 88-year-old ladies would be able to deflate their age to 70!

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20140816_104129     Now Japan is the one of the top countries for long life expectancy. The average life span of Japanese people is about 84 and of Japanese women reaches over 87. But I’m wondering how many people over the age of 70 are healthy and live satisfying lives in this country…20140816_112514

     I attended a big meeting of Tai Chi during the Obon holidays. It was held at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium on August 16. About 600 people gathered at the event and most of them were over the age of 65. The participants were divided into 10 groups and studied some actions of Tai Chi. I was able to study many things through the workshop.米

     At the beginning of the event, there was a ceremony in which two 88-year-old ladies received the kotobuki prize. Kotobuki means offering congratulations or longevity in Japanese. The ceremony was to celebrate their 88th birthday. The age of 88 is special in Japan. The Chinese character representing rice looks like the number 88 written in Chinese. You know, rice is the diet and the symbol of life in Japan. 20140816_134624

      The recipients looked much younger than their real age of 88. Their posture and expressions were beautiful. They would be able to deflate their age to 70. As you know, Tai Chi is effective for improving the functions of your heart and lungs and muscular strength. If I keep on doing Tai Chi, I might turn 88 healthily like them.

     By the way, I used the word Obon above, but do you know it? Many people take a kind of summer vacation in mid-August in Japan. It is called Obon holidays. Obon is August 15 and most companies give their employees some holidays including the day. Obon is not a national holiday, but interestingly is dealt with as a holiday. That is why the public transportation schedule is Sunday’s one around the day and most public offices and hospitals are closed. 20140816_150452

     This Obon day is believed by Japanese Buddhists to be the day that the spirits of the dead return to their family. So, basically Japanese people go back to their hometown and spend the holidays with their family including the ones who have already passed away. But young people have tended to spend the holidays for themselves not to meet their family recently. That is why many elderly people were able to attend the meeting…But they did not look sad at all. They looked energetic and were enjoying doing Tai Chi!

The Night Zoo: Where is your father?

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20140815_190022     To be honest, I do not like to go to zoos or aquariums so much. I do not feel happy to see animals imprisoned. I feel rather depressed. But I do not deny their importance of existence. They deal with protecting endangered species, and provide opportunities to observe creatures directly, especially to children. They make children happy, and make their family also happy. I was frisky as well when I was a little child, shouting “That’s an elephant!”

     I who had been avoiding visiting zoos for a long time went to a zoo last month. What brought me there? It was the “Night Zoo.” There is a zoo named Higashiyama Zoo in Nagoya. They opened at night during the obon holidays. That was the first time in three years. They usually close at 5:00 p.m., but opened until 8:30 during the period. It was a rare opportunity to be in the zoo at night, and they had not held the event for three years. Besides, it was not raining. That was why I decided to go to the “Night Zoo.”20140815_190319

     We had thunderstorms in Nagoya area in mid-August this year. So, they had to close the zoo many times during the Night Zoo event period. But it stopped raining in the evening when I went to the zoo that day. It was terribly hot and humid in the zoo, which was filled with swarms of people. It was quite dark in the zoo for the same of the animals. So, there was no music, either. But the atmosphere looked like a summer festival. Children were cavorting. 20140815_190639

     I expected to hear lost children announcement many times, but I never heard even one. Instead, I heard mothers’ and children’s conversations several times:

     “Where is your father?”
“Donno.”
“You should’ve taken care of him!”
“Why me?!”20140815_185832

It seemed there were many lost fathers in the zoo that night…

     In the dark park pond, many couples were pedaling the swan-shaped boats. No lights, no music. They just needed an intimate space where they could be alone. I understand that, but the pond has a jinx: Couples who ride thsese boats in the park will break up soon…20140815_191109

     Animals looked tired. If I were an animal in the zoo, I would cry out, “I’m tired! Go home, humans!” In the darkness, I was not able to see many animals. Instead, I watched many people. It was so crowded and dark that I did not have anything else to see. Anyway, I enjoyed an extraordinary summer night.

A Chinese Medicine Class: You are a part of this universe.

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CAM00373-a     “You shouldn’t try to go on a diet in summer,” said Prof. Yang Wei-ping seriously. I was attending a lecture about Chinese medicine at Aichi Shukutoku University last month. The theme of the class was “healthy summer eating habits.”

     Prof. Yang is from Kunming in Yunnan Province, Southwest China. Kunming has one of the mildest climates in China. That’s why it is called “Spring Castle.” My town, Nagoya is incredibly humid and hot in summer and very cold in winter. So, I assumed he is having a tough time here, but he isn’t. He is a Chinese doctor. He has a broad knowledge for surviving harsh weather conditions.

     There is an idea of “Tao follows nature” in China. That is, it is essential for living healthily and longer to follow nature. From the point of view of Taoism, today’s Japanese diet seems to be crazy. There are a lot of out of season vegetables and fruits which were grown with a large amount of pesticide, meat of animals which were given antibiotics, and many products with added artificial preservative in grocery stores. Japanese people rely on this kind of food industry. CAM00376

     Prof. Yang mentioned five key words for healthy eating manner: warm, mild, soft, little, slowly. That is, you should eat a small amount of warm, soft and mild tasting food slowly at each meal. If you have something hard, you should chew it well until it becomes soft. This eating manner is good for your digestive system.

     On the one hand, in Western medicine, doctors start medical therapy on people after they catch diseases; on the other hand, in Eastern medicine, doctors start treatment before people catch diseases. If you are not in good condition, such as having a headache, stiff shoulders, back problem, or dizziness, and go to see the Western doctor, most of you will be told, “I don’t see any problems. Let’s see how it goes.” But Eastern doctors will regard those symptoms as signals that your internal organs are not working well and start to treat you earnestly. They believe that it is too late to treat patients after they are sick. 漢方 en

     China has the yin-yang principle. Heaven is yang, and the earth is yin. Human-beings take the air from heaven and food from the earth. The Chinese character, which means energy, is made up of the symbols for ‘air’ and ‘rice’, the latter representing food. That is, you get energy from the air and food, and you become healthy with your respiratory and digestive systems working well. You are a part of this universe. You cannot be healthy if you forget about it and ignore natural laws.

     As I told you above, it is very humid and hot in summer in Nagoya. The temperature is over 30 degrees every day. So, people tend to have something cold. But inside the buildings and trains are air-conditioned, and it is sometimes very cold. It means that you make yourself cold both inside and outside. It is bad for your digestive system. If your digestive and absorptive function does not work well, your immune system will weaken. This problem is not only in the summer. It will affect your condition until next spring. That is why you should eat wisely to become or stay healthy. You should eat something warm and avoid cold drinks in summer! Ah, beer and ice cream are calling me from the refrigerator…What shall I do?

The Early-Morning Sumo Practice: You should have done it that way from the beginning…

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CAM00379     “You should have done it that way from the beginning…” murmured Sakanabe, a sumo wrestler. I was observing an early-morning practice of sumo in Nagakute on July 26. A sumo stable called Tagono-ura-beya was staying at Daiyu-in Temple during the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament in July. Taeko, one of my friends picked me up at 6:45 in the morning, and then we went to the temple to watch sumo wrestlers practicing outside.

     Four young men were training when we arrived at the temple. About 15 people had already been there and were watching their performance keenly. The number of spectators and journalists gradually increased. Most of them came with the aim of looking at Takayasu, who had a chance of winning the tournament as a Japanese and lower position wrestler. Non-Japanese wrestlers have been winning the cup for eight years, and all of the champions except for one were yokozuna (the first-rank wrestlers) or ozeki (the second-rank ones). CAM00388

     The four young wrestlers were practicing hard but sometimes they smiled at each other. Their expressions changed suddenly when three other wrestlers appeared at the sumo ring. Those three in white loincloths were wrestlers in the senior division and three times as big as the youngsters in black sashes. The young people had strained looks. One of them hastily went to take some water with a dipper and then came to the biggest and oldest wrestler, Wakano-sato, to greet him. He offered Wakano-sato the water deferentially, saying, “Good morning.” But Wakano-sato did not accept the water and said nothing. Then another young man did the same thing, but Wakano-sato did not accept the water from him, either. Surprisingly, another one did the same thing! I thought, “Hey! Wakano-sato doesn’t want water now! Can’t you tell that?” Probably, it is a tradition or something…CAM00392

     Two of the young wresters, Sakanabe and Taka-saito began to practice. Takayasu was stretching and the second-rank wrestler, Kiseno-sato was training outside of the ring during their practice. But Wakano-sato was sitting down and staring at them. Taka-saito was throwing himself against Sakanabe again and again. Finally he was about to leave the ring, saying “Thank you.” Then Wakano-sato opened his mouth. “Do it again.” Taka-saito was stupefied and stood rooted there. He could not seem to understand what had happened for a while. Sakanabe nodded when Taka-saito looked at him.

     Then Taka-saito’s crash course began. He threw himself against Sakanabe and then was turned over. The same thing was done with Wakano-sato’s word, “Again.” It was repeated over and over. Taka-saito could not stand up quickly. He was panting on his knees. But Wakano-sato said, “You’re slow. Get up quickly and do it again!” Takayasu and Kiseno-sato kept on practicing without any expressions. But the other young wrestlers tensed and were doing muscle training frantically. The sense of tension hit the audience. The spectators were just looking closely to what was happening with bated breath.

     Suddenly Taka-saito’s eyes changed. He tackled Sakanabe with every ounce of his being. Sakanabe murmured, “You should have done it that way from the beginning…” Wakano-sato nodded and Taka-saito was released from the special training at last…CAM00409

     After that, Sakanabe throw himself against Takayasu for a while. Then Takayasu left the ring with many journalists and the early-morning practice was over. Kiseno-sato and Wakano-sato did not enter the ring at all…

     In the evening when I turned on the TV, Wakano-sato happened to be about to fight against his opponent. He defeated the adversary. I was happy to see he win somehow. Unfortunately, Takayasu and Kiseno-sato lost their fights…Hakuho, yokozuna, or the first-rank wrestler, from Mongolia won the tournament. But Takayasu received a fighting-spirit award. I hope the four young wrestlers, especially Taka-saito, who had a crash course, will become high-rank wrestlers and play important roles in the sumo field someday soon.

The Bangladeshi Curry Class @ Aichi Summer Seminar 2014 : Will I be able to greet the summer next year?

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CAM00359-a     Oh, no! Hold this class next summer, too! Please!

     I was in the kitchen of Takakura High School of Economics Nagoya University on July 20. It was a cooking class of Aichi Summer Seminar, which is an annual event held by private schools in Aichi Prefecture. Aichi Summer Seminar is also known as “The Dream School” because anyone can become teachers and students freely. You can choose and take any classes basically for free from more than 3,000 classes. It was held at some schools near Nagoya City Museum in Mizuho-ku from July 19 to 21 this year. The places change every year, but I’ve joined the same cooking class for five years. I like the Bangladeshi chicken curry in the class! CAM00363-a

     It was a very hot day when I attended the class. But the kitchen was very comfortable because of the air-conditioner. There were 20 people in the room. The participants were separated into some groups, each of which had about half a dozen people. I used “cooking” above, but there are not so many things to do in the class. You fry onions. That’s all. Oh, one more thing. You check the other teams’ progress. The room was cool, but we soon became hot and started perspiring a lot. All the teams began frying onions… CAM00364-a

     Actually I’ve already introduced the recipe in my past article. (Aichi Summer Seminar 2011) But I tell you how to cook the Bangladeshi chicken curry again here:

Bangladesh Chicken Curry Recipe   

Serves: 6

Ingredients: 750g           chicken drumsticks
                         2              onions
                    1 1/2tbs       ground ginger
                    1 1/2tbs       ground garlic
                      6tbs           salad oil
                    1 1/2tbs      curry powder
                    1 1/2tbs      salt
                                         some water CAM00368-a

1) Rinse the chicken, chop the onions, and grind the ginger and garlic.
2) Heat oil in a pan, fry the onions until brown.
3) Add the ground ginger and garlic, curry powder and salt.
4) Pour water, cover the pan, and cook it for about 30 minutes. CAM00369

     How easy! No.2 is the most important! You need to fry onions patiently! I was able to eat delicious curry and rice this year, too! Thanks! Teachers served Bangladeshi spiced tea and snacks. I had a really good time! But one of the teachers said to me, “We might not have this class any more…” What?! I really like this class! So, I asked her to have the class next year too. Summer will never arrive for me untill I take the class! Will I be able to greet the summer next year?