Monthly Archives: November 2008

Lomo Saltado



     The other day I took part in an interesting practice cooking. It was as part of an intro class of Spanish at a university. At the class the students learned how to greet, ask time and place, and order food at restaurants and so on in Spanish.

     The class was an introduction PeruHI352043-avian culture as well. Each student planned their own itinerary in Cuzco, practiced how to ask the way to places in Spanish with a map of Cuzco, and sang two Peruvian children songs. And we cooked a famous food in Peru in the class. It was lomo saltadoHI352050-a

     Lomo saltado is stir-fried sirloin and vegetables and served with French fries and rice. You slice sirloin, onions, ahi amaliyos or yellow peppers, and tomatoes, and fry them with oil. You chopped parsley and add it to the fry pan. You season it with salt, pepper and soy sauce. (In Peru they add chemical seasoning too.) You put the dish on French fries, and serve it with rice.   HI352052-a

     The number of students in the class was about 12. So we were divided into three groups and did practice cooking. At the practice cooking class, a Peruvian came to the classroom for teaching the dish. She is a friend of the class teacher, and is also a friend of mine. She is a really good cook. And I was very surprised to know most of us were great at cooking. Some were able to peel tomatoes with knife! Me? I tried, but gave up soon!

     About one hour later, we finished cooking and tried our lomo saltado and panettone with coca tea. HI352053^a

     The lomo saltado was wonderful! Panettone is a kind of fruit bread, eaten on Christmas in Peru and other countries. The bread was also nice. It was the first time to try coca tea, which was blended with mint leaves. That tasted interesting.

     We enjoyed chatting over those delicious foods and tea. We talked a lot of things, laughing and had a really wonderful time together. I think the class was really nice.HI352054 

     I tried to cook lomo saltado later at home. But I used chicken breast instead of beef at that time. So, it was not lomo saltado, might be pollo saltado. I used green peppers and chili powder because it is difficult to get ahi amaliyos in Japan. And I added a carrot for color. It might not be like Peruvian food, but that was also delicious!

An Interesting Lecture



     I had an opportunity to take part in an interesting lecture by an American lady ten days ago. She’s a poet, photographer, artist and English teacher. She’s written many articles in Avenue, a quarterly magazine on Nagoya in English. I’ve read her articles and been interested in her views and photos.

     She talked about her life, her experiences in Japan, and her vision. All of them are really interesting for me. I think she enjoys her life as freeman.

     She is originally from Portland, the U.S. and lived in Denver Colorado for more than 30 years. She has four children and six grandchildren. But her present partner is not their immediate family member. She remarried after about 15-year-her single life three years ago. Her new partner is also from the U.S.

     Remarriage is nothing new, but it was new for me to have seen a person who got married through a dating site. How modern! I thought Americans might more innovative than Japanese when I heard of the story. 

     But according to her, her family and her present husband’s family opposed their remarrying. I think it’s natural response for family members. My mother has been single for some years after divorce. I might get confused if she mentioned her remarriage. But I would accept her decision finally. So did their families! Now she has many grandchildren because her new partner also has grandchildren. HI352021

     Before getting remarried, they lived by themselves each other in other countries far from the U.S. After they got married, they decided to live in Japan. I think they did because for them Japan is exotic, still safety and is in demand of English teachers. 

     Japan from her eyes is really wonderful. She and her husband seem to enjoy their lives here in Japan. In her view, Japanese people are kind and Japan has own culture and they are fantastic. Of course, I was very happy to hear that as Japanese. But I think that she thinks so and enjoys her life because of her mind. She always thank to everything and is good at seeing the positive side.

     I have met some people from other countries who used to always complain about Japan and Japanese people before. According to them, Japanese people are unfriendly, Japanese rules are too strict, Japan is a boring country because it has lost its own culture and westernized completely.

     I thought their complaining kind of made sense when I heard of them. But I thought that they felt so because of their mind at the time. They left Japan with curse. They may be drifters who are looking for their ideal world. I think they won’t find it forever unless they change their mind. I think happiness exist in your mind, not somewhere faraway.

     Anyway she really enjoys her life with her loving husband. I’m sure that she can find happiness anywhere she is and anytime. She is planning to write books on her experiences in China and Japan and on Basho, who was a haiku poet writer after going back to the U.S next February. She has been very busy days for her business and her interests, but she looks so happy. I felt my spirit emerge at her lecture.

Romeo & Juliet in Nagoya


     Some of my friends asked to me to go to see a play together late last month. They said that their English teacher was going to appear on it. I asked “What play is it?” One of them replied, “Romeo and Juliet.”

     What? Romeo and Juliet? That famous Shakespeare’s one? Actually I’m not interested in Shakespeare at all. I’ve, of course, read some of his works before. It was, however, when I was a child, and those were ones translated into Japanese. 

     I said to them, “Don’t say he acts as Romeo or Juliet!” They replied, laughing, “Oh! He seems to play as a Pastor!” That’s fine, I thought. tikusa01_1

     So I went to see the Romeo and Juliet with some of my friends at the beginning of this month. The play was produced by Maidenagoya and held at the Chikusa Playhouse in Fukiage.

     I was surprised at the place because it was a round theater. It was the first time for me to see that kind of theater. It is not big, and probably its capacity is around 200 or something.

     A some-two-meter long rectangle-shaped object was set at the center of the room and was spotlighted. Soon after the play began, I understood that the object changes to different things such as a bed, alter, a bench and so on by the scene.

     Interestingly, the play of Romeo and Juliet was set at Japan in Meiji era, 1862 to 1912. In the play, Mr. Montague, Romeo’s father, is an American general and he came to Japan to train Japanese army with modern weapons, Mr. Capulet, Juliet’s father, is one of former feudal lords. Yes, Juliet is a Japanese teenager! Friar, my friends’ teacher’s role, is a missionary priest and teaches English to Japanese. Yes, Juliet learns English from him! HI352018

     That’s why, basically the Capulets speak Japanese, and the Montagues speak English. And Juliet and her nurse usually speak Japanese, but they speak English to Romeo and the priest. The play was English and Japanese.

     Sadly, it was really hard to me to understand what they were saying. I hardly could understand their English. They spoke Shakespeare time English such as thou, or thee. I don’t think I could have understood if they had spoken modern English, though…You know, with my English skills…

     Sometimes the actors switched the languages, but I couldn’t understand their Japanese, either…English speaking actors speak Japanese in English accent, and some Japanese actors spoke old style Japanese too fast and unclearly to catch even for Japanese… That is, I couldn’t understand the play linguistically. But fortunately, I am not blind and I know the story. So I enjoyed the play.

     I think the actors as Romeo and Juliet are quite nice. Juliet doesn’t look like Meiji era Japanese girl at all, though. After the play, one of my friends said, “Ah…I was moved to tears at the last scene though I knew the story and Romeo was not so good-looking…” We laughed at her confession.

     Anyway, the play’s tries, for example, the time and the place setting, the language, lighting and sound effects, were interesting to me. The time and the place reminded me of The Madam Butterfly. Probably if the play had been directed by Japanese, it would have become a completely different. It was also interesting for me to know a Western view of Japanese Meiji era through the play.

A Wonderful Autumn Day


     Many Japanese people think Cherry blossoms are symbol of Japan. And the way of their petals fall is sometimes linked with the spirit of Japanese samurai worriers.

     Cherry blossoms are short-lived. Their fragility makes many people kind of absent minded during the season for cherry-blossoms viewing. That’s as if they were ill of fever. After all petals of cherry blossoms fall off, people resume their regular lives.  HI352024

     So, do you know there’re cherry trees which bloom in both of the spring and the autumn in Japan? They are called shiki-zakura in Japanese. People can enjoy seeing their blossoms not only in the autumn but also for a while. They don’t have the fragility, many Japanese like, but people can enjoy seeing gentle pink colored cherry blossoms and beautiful autumn colored leaves at the same time! HI352028

     I was able to have an opportunity to go see the wonderful sceneries two days ago. There’s a small village called Obara-mura in Toyota City. It is well-known for shiki-zakura, the cherry trees bloom in the autumn too, and handmade Japanese paper. I visited the village with some of my tai chi friends on Tuesday. HI352034

     It was bad weather that day, but there were many tourists came to the area to see shiki-zakura. I was very surprised to see not only so many people and but also so many cherry trees. I had thought that there was an old shiki-zakura cherry tree in the village and people went to see it before visiting. But there are so many shiki-zakura trees in the village.  HI352036

     Actually the village has an old cherry tree of shiki-zakura as the special natural monument. According to some of my friends, there has been a kind of boost the village economy project for several years, and villagers have planted many of the cherry trees in their village for one of the strategies. Anyway, that was a wonderful experience for me to enjoy seeing cherry blossoms and autumn colors all together. HI352039

     On our way back to Nagoya, we dropped into another tourist attraction, Korankei. It’s famous for red and yellow colors of maple leaves in the autumn. The park is illuminated in the evening during the autumn festival. Beautifully autumn colored maple trees looked very mysterious under the illumination. HI352041

     There are many stalls in the park for tourists. We were able to enjoy the scenery over many delicious foods: goheimochi, or spread rice on a wood stick with miso, grilled sausages and fish. I had a really good time that day.

We were born on this earth



     Most of my friends have been very busy, doing many things. TM is one of them. She is one of my tai chi fellows and a member of a chorus in Toyota. I’d longed to see her singing onstage for a long time, and I got an opportunity last week at last.

     She came and handed an envelope to me when I was doing warm-up exercise before practicing tai chi the other day. I opened the envelope and found a ticket for a sing in which she was going to perform. HI352004

     The sing was held as the chorus’ 45th anniversary at Kaba House Hall in Toyota on November 8th.

     I was surprised to see the place because it was much bigger than I had imagined. There was a long line for entering when I arrived at the hall. I thought most of them might be their families of the members of the chorus because I saw many children and their mothers and fathers and grandparents. HI352005

     I sat in the front row and waited for the curtain. After a while, the chorus and came out and then the conductor and a piano accompanist also appeared, but their first song was a cappella. It was a suite entitled “hanga,” or print art, from “nanto-uta-asobi,” or songs play of a southern island, and has four songs: asa-no-inori, or morning grace; syukaku, or harvest; ikoi or relaxation; and yoki-na-musumetachi, or cheerful girls.  HI352007

     The chorus consisted of thirty not-so-young 😉 women, and some of them looked in their seventies or eighties. Amazingly, their singing voice was so powerful and energetic. Their voice was not drawn out by the piano obbligato at all. After the songs a cappella, I listened to sakura sakura, or cherry blossoms; chisana concerto, or small concerto; and garasu-no-me, or glass eyes. HI352012

     Each song was wonderful, but I liked the last song. It was a kind of monology by a doll with glass eyes. It said, “If God made human, human may be God for me because they made me.” The song made me think what human has done in the past…

     After a break, who came out to the stage were the pianist and the conductor, not the chorus. Then the conductor began singing after a monologue. HI352011

     He is a quite nice singer. According to the leaflet, he’s a professional singer and actor. He sang When You Wish upon a Star; gin-iro-no-michi, or a silver road; Country Road; and When a Child is born. While he was singing Country Road, the choral women appeared after changing their costumes. The stage was really nice. I was able to enjoy not only listening to songs but also seeing their performances. 

     For the last stage, the chorus changed into beautiful light blue colored dresses and then came out. They looked so lovely. The last music was a suite entitled kono-hoshi-no-uede, or on this earth. It has five songs: haru, or spring; chikyu-no-kyaku, or the earth’s guests; obento-no-uta, or a song of lunch box; hohoemi, or smile; kotoshi, or this year. HI352014

     The suite and other songs sounded kind of praise for the earth and thank to it. Actually the sing has a title: kono-hoshi-ni-umarete, or We were born on this earth. The chorus might try to give the message through the songs. I had a really wonderful time at the sing. I hope they will have their 50th anniversary sing five years later.

The Vagina Monologues



     That was a day at the end of October. I went out of the classroom with my teacher after class, when we ran into another teacher next classroom and her students in the corridor. The teacher next classroom saw my teacher and me and said, “Oh! All women should see this!” handing a flyer to each of us.

     The pink colored paper said “The Vagina Monologues”. What? Probably there was a puzzled look on my face as I saw the flyer. So she added that that was a play and she would be appearing on it as an actress. I said “Hmm. All women…?” giggling a little because I was startled at the sensational title, but she solemnly said, “I’m serious.”

     After saying good-bye to her and my teacher, I read the flyer while waiting for the subway.

     A Nagoya Players Special Production
     The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler

     Directed by Tomomi Yoshida

     “Vagina”… It never sounds like a word you want to say.

Over 200 women were interviewed about their vaginas. Based on these interviews, this play for all women has caused a sensation all over the United States.

About childhood trauma; about our own bodies; about genital mutilation that still remains; about rape, about childbirth; about violence towards women; about our happiness; etc..

Various episodes of women talk about what’s important. It’s a completely new type of play that includes tears, laughter, and some shocking truths. Let’s talk about what’s important: women and their bodies.

     Sounds interesting! When I told about the play to my friends after coming back home, some of them showed interests in it. And I would be seeing the play with three of them. The play was held from November 1st to 3rd at Nagoya City Youth Exchange Plaza near Nagoya Castle. We went to see the play on the 3rd.

     The play was consisted of “monologues” of many women performed by ten actresses. Each performance was set in an interview, where each actress replied as their roles to invisible and inaudible interviewer’s questions. That’s why the play is “monologues”.

     As like the flyer says, there were many women’s various episodes of their own bodies and lives in the play: humiliating experiences of a middle-aged woman whose ex-husband has perverted habits; an unhappy youth memory of an old woman in her 70s who describes some lower part of her body as a musty, damp, and locked basement vault; anger of a female soldier against the treatment for women in the military; constant anguish of sexuality humiliating abuse of an Arabic woman; and delight of the original producer of the play as she attended the birth of her family…etc

     It was a nice opportunity to see the play because it gave me to think about women’s body and me. Still now, I think, most parts of our society are patriarchal and it tends to be passive for women by their physical features. Women themselves tend to avoid talking about their bodies to even the same sex friends, especially about some certain part of their bodies-vagina. It’s because the part is easy to be linked to sexual matters, which are usually kind of embarrassing to talk. Most of us, however, were born into this world through the exact that place. Vagina is not disgraceful at all, is rather mysterious and sacred.