Monthly Archives: January 2007

Natto Rhapsody

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     A TV program said on January 7th that you could become thin within only two weeks if you ate two packs of natto every day. Natto is fermented soybeans and is one of traditional Japanese foods, which is well-known for its nutritional value. Despite the value, natto is quite cheep. You can buy three packs of natto (one pack holds 50g) for less than 100 yen.

     All you have to do for a diet is just eating two packs of natto every day! If you keep going on the diet for two weeks, it’ll cost only 900 yen! Next morning of the televising, natto vanished all over Japan. Many people especially women seized upon the diet! The cases in which natto was usually sold at any stores had been empty for about two weeks since the TV program was telecasted.

     Those people who were able to get natto stirred it dreaming their ideal figure, and those who couldn’t get any natto looked about for one desperately. Incidentally I belonged to the latter…

     The phenomenon, however, didn’t last long. The natto diet was concocted. The fact rose to the surface on 20th. It was a flat lie! The TV production made up a likely story for getting good audience rating. The TV program finished and the people concerned were dismissed because of the deplorable affair.

    Many women were danced. Many natto makers were leaded by the dance. People were only danced to natto rhapsody…

Sen-no-kaze-ni-natte: Do not stand at my grave and weep

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     A song entitled "Sen-no-kaze-ni-natte" in Japanese are now popular. It is sung by a classical tenor named Masafumi Akikawa and the CD is a great hit. The other day, its sales became the top among all single CDs. It was an important chapter in the music industry because it was the first time that a CD of classical music song  became the number one.

     At first the CD was not a good seller, but it started to sell like fun after Masafumi Akikawa sang it at Kohaku Uta Gassen (Red and White Song Battle), which is an annual music show on New Year’s Eve. Yes, indeed, I was touched to listen to his song at that time. 

     His song "Sen-no-kaze-ni-natte" is a translation of this well-known poem " Do not stand at my grave and weep" into Japanese. The original poem is written by Mary Elizabeth Frye in America in 1932 when the mother of a friend of hers passed away to console the friend.

     The original poem:
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.

    The Japanese song’s title "Sen-no-kaze-ni-natte" came from the third line of the poem "I am in a thousand winds that blow."

     I think the poem or Masafumi Akikawa’s song may ease the grief of people who lost someone. I haven’t lost anyone yet, but I was really touched and wept when I listened to the song although the poem said "do not weep".

Fujiya Scandal

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     It was on 11th that that unbelievable news spread. The news was that Confectionery Fujiya had used old milk in its cream puffs. Fujiya is the third largest western style confectionery in Japan. It was founded in 1910. They lost public trust before their 100th birthday which was close at hand.

     Even the news was bad, but one after another Fujiya’s evildoing surfaced. The company used other ingredients which passed their use-by dates besides old milk and shipped their products which contained unacceptable level of bacteria knowingly, and often falsified the dates when you can enjoy the food. What’s more, they seem to have a special rule called "three seconds rule". Even though they drop food on the floor, they sell it if they can pick it up within three seconds by the rule.

     According to the report on Fujiya, they kept on using old ingredients after the bad custom was revealed last November in-house examination. Rather, they kept hiding the fact and kept selling during the Christmas season. For them, their profit is more important than consumers’ health.

     Regrettably, it is not only Fujiya to commit injustice and hide the fact for pursuit of profit. I think the figure of the scandal is the same as the affairs of deceptive operation of design of earthquake-proof construction by Aneha, and of cheat of subjects  to be studied in high schools. Hiding wrongs is Japanese specialty. And in most of the concealment of scandals, some of the people concerned commit suicide after disclosure.  I hope no one die by Fujiya Scandal this time. 

Chorogi-Chinese Artichoke

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     I was in Tokyo during New Year’s holidays because some of my family lives there. I had an opportunity to eat something strange then. Look at this photo. I was really surprised at the shape of the red things at first.

     This worm shaped thing is the root of Chinese artichoke and called chorogi in Japanese. Chinese artichoke is a plant of the family of Lamiaceae in which mint and basil are included. In Japan people usually don’t eat the leaves, just eat the roots.

     I can hardly get the herb in Nagoya, where I live. I’ve heard that you can buy ones in the mountains. In Tokyo you may be able to get some because it is the center of Japan. But chorogi (Chinese artichokes’s roots) are usually eaten with black soy beans only during New Year’s holidays in Japan. The cooking is one of Osechi, which means traditional Japanese New Year’s foods.

     Each Osechi food has a special meaning. The black soy beans with chorogi are eaten for wishing for your health.

   Chorogi seems to be eaten in France as well. I’d like to try some French cuisines with chorogi someday.

The Observations on Long-legged Wasps

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     I think it is too late to write this now, but I am going to…That was a morning when a typhoon was on its way…

      I was in the balcony of my apartment to get the flowerpots from the fence because the gale warning in the morning of August 8th. A typhoon was on its way. When I moved a flowerpot, I found a long-legged wasps’ nest behind it on the wall! I was petrified. I thought all of the wasps were looking at me.  As soon as I put the flowerpot on the floor, I entered the room and shut the window. Then I came back to the balcony with my cellphone to take a picture of the nest!          

                            
      The wasps multiplied rapidly!
 I couldn’t be
in the balcony which was a dager zone! It started to look like a desert because I abandoned my plants. (I’m sorry!)

      Why didn’t I get rid of the nest? I was going to remove it imidiately for the first time, of course. But I changed my mind. There are some reasons  for it. One is that I read that long-legged wasps are gentle and seldom attack unless people provoke them and that they move out by November on the Internet. And I started to be interested in them while I was seeing them everyday!

       I started to like them when I saw they trying to protect their babies in a body. It was on September 10th when another typhoon was coming.

       I noticed that no wasps were at their nest on September 26th. I had thought they decreased gradually, but I saw some indeed the day before.

        After expecting some of them to the nest for a while, I took it off from the wall of the balcony…

       I don’t like wasps, but I started to think that at least long-legged wasps are cute. And I am interested in their behavior.

Shishi

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                                     Time flies! A new year has come without notice.. This is my first blog in 2007! Thank you for visiting here and reading!

      I am going to write about Shishi today. I love Shishi! I don’t know why though…
I think they are cute.

      Shishi is a happy symbol and also a charm. If you visit a shrine, you’ll find a Shishi at the entrance. There’re a pair of stone ornaments in most shrines, and the right one is Shishi. The left one is similar to the right one but not Shishi, it’s called Koma-inu. Koma means Korea and inu means a dog. That is it means a Korean dog. I don’t know what is the present kind for the Korean dog.

     Shishi doesn’t look like at all but it seems to come from a lion. On New Year’s day, a dance called Shishi-mai is performed all over Japan. But you can see the lion dance in not only Japan but also all over Asia. Shishi is not a culture peculiar to Japan. I don’t know how it’s called in other countries though. It is said that Japanese Shishi-mai comes originally from Chinese lion dance.                            

      Okinawa is one of prefectures in Japan, but it is famous as a district which has customs peruliar to it. They ususally put a charm called Shisa (It is said that Shisa is a dialect of Shishi.) on the roof or the wall. It seems that all of those Shishi, Shisa and other Asian countries’ similar symbols originates from the lion in ancient Orient. It is said that the Sphinx in Egypt is also embraced. That’s interesting!  In Western countries, gargoyles seem to has something to do with them.

     
                                               You can get the time-honored charms for only 100 yen
recently! I had thought to buy one at a 100 yen shop,
but I didn’t and made  one with paper clay instead! It looks
like one of my Nepali
friends…How has he been?  

     Anyway I wish this year wonderful for all of you!
Look at my special Shishi which resembles the Nepali friend! It may bring good luck to you!