Author Archives: moshimoshimo

About moshimoshimo

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

Oden and Aji de Gallina: I enjoyed the belated Christmas party with the Japanese and the Peruvian food!

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xmas1      Today’s topic is an event at the end of last year, although March has already started…. I visited a Peruvian friend, Rosario, with two of my Japanese friends, Michiyo and Sachiko, on December 26th, the day after Christmas. We had a belated Christmas party. xmas2

     We got together at 9:30 in the morning and started cooking Japanese and Peruvian food together. The Japanese one was Oden and the Peruvian one was Aji de Gallina. Oden is a kind of stew with fishcakes, daikon raddish, boiled eggs and so on in soy-flavored broth. This time we added some Chinese dumplings to the Oden. Amazingly those dumplings went well with Japanese Oden! Aji de Gallina is a sort of chicken curry. ‘Aji’ means hot chilli peppers, ‘de’ of, and ‘gallina’ chicken. xmas4

Aji de Gallina (Serves: 4)

Ingredients:

500g chicken breast
500ml water
1 onion (chopped)
2 tbs oil
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
3 slices of white bread (without crust)
4 boiled eggs
Parmesan (grated)
Milk
Aji Amarillo (Peruvian yellow chilli pepper paste)
Salt and pepperxmas3

1) Boil the chicken breast and shred them. (Keep the broth.)

2) Heat the oil in a pan, fry the onion, garlic with Aji Amarillo, salt and pepper.

3) Add the broth and heat.

4) Add milk soaked bread to the pan.

5) Put the shredded chicken into the pan and boil with some Parmesan.

6) Serve over rice and/or potatoes with black olives and Aji Amarillo if you like. xmas5

     Neither Oden nor Aji de Gallina have anything to do with Christmas, but we enjoyed cooking, chatting and eating together at the belated Christmas party!

Good-bye, Ricky…I’d like to see you after improving my English skills someday!

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   ricky1

      It was snowing on December 18th. If I had had nothing to do, I would have avoided going outside in the heavy snow. But that day was special for me. In the morning my private English teacher Ricky was supposed to introduce me to a friend of his as another teacher before he left Japan. In the afternoon I was going to have a farewell party for him, and in the evening I was going to attend his band’s last gig. Therefore I went to the café in spite of the snow. It usually takes about 30 minutes to the place by bus, but it took me nearly one hour to get there due to the snow that morning.ricky2

     Ricky and I were at Komeda, a famous chain of coffee shops in Nagoya. We talked about many things, looking out the window at the snowflakes, sipping hot coffee and eating some toast and boiled eggs from their “Morning Service.” Most coffee shops in the Nagoya area have this “Morning Service” and give you some food for the cost of a cup of coffee in the morning. After a while, Ricky’s friend Anthony joined us. I was relieved to meet him because he looked very gentle and friendly. ricky3

     Then we went to a friend of mine, Hisako’s house, where Ricky’s farewell party was supposed to be held. It had stopped snowing by the time we arrived at her place. Unfortunately, most of my friends decided not to attend the party because of the snow, but two of them came. To tell you the truth, I would have liked to have a much bigger party for Ricky! But the small party was very nice and cozy with Hisako’s cordial homemade dishes.ricky4

     Around two o’clock, Anthony and Ricky left Hisako’s place. Anthony had to go to his school, and Ricky needed to prepare for that evening’s concert. I went home after clearing up after the party, and then went to Juke★Box, the music studio, in the evening. They have a party room and you can have a small party and a concert there. Ricky’s band “Los Tres” usually rehearsed at the studio. In fact, I myself often practice playing the drums there. ricky5

     Los Tres was a rockabilly band consisting of three musicians: Ricky, the vocalist and the keyboardist, Antonio, the vocalist and the guitarist, and Sally Fat, the bassist. The name Sally sounds female, but he is a man. I had wondered what the band would do after Ricky left Japan, and was shocked to know that they would disband. Antonio was also going back to his home in Spain soon! Not only me but also the staff at the studio were surprised at the sad news. So they served many kinds of food and drinks for free as a farewell.ricky6

     The concert was fantastic! Ricky, Antonio, Sally Fat and the drummer played energetically and their music fascinated the audience. Anthony came to the party after his job during the interval. “Oh, we have the same name!” After Anthony and Antonio greeted each other, Anthony borrowed Antonio’s guitar and sang a few songs. That was also great! I had a wonderful time, but the end of the party meant I had to bid farewell to Ricky… Good-bye, Ricky. Thank you for your lessons. I don’t know when I can see you next time, but I’d like to see you after improving my English skills someday!

Maru-chan is Great!- An English Class Party

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     “Michael?”10644226_10152864428677356_7465040322612952079_o
    
“Oh, Maru-chan!”

     All of the people including me were surprised and watched the two men who were glad to see each other again. That happened during the English class party on December 9th.

     I took an English class at Chukyo University for three months from last September. Although I joined class in the middle of the course, I became the organizer of class party in November. I did not know where to have the party because I was a stranger around the Yagoto area. But one of my classmates kindly offered to help me look for a good place to have the party.

     10470852_10152864428822356_7059506429380459043_oAfter class she and I were strolling in a dark alley, where there were many kinds of shops. Their illuminations were luring us. We were checking menus outside and peeping inside at each restaurant. All of a sudden, a man’s voice called from behind us. We turned around and found a man in a white cook coat standing with a big smile in front of a building. “Why don’t you come to my restaurant?” he said. It was the first time I met Maru-chan.

     We checked his menu. It was nice and reasonable. We decided to try some food and to check inside. All of food was very nice and the atmosphere was also good. We made a reservation for our class party when we left the restaurant: Nude-R Yagoto.10700757_10152864428902356_581425881724085529_o

     It was a chance meeting! The man who appeared from the kitchen saying “Michael?” was Mr. Maruyama, a.k.a. Maru-chan, the chef, and Michael was my class’s teacher at Chukyo University. According to Michael, he and one of his friends Paul used to frequent Maru-chan’s former restaurant in Sakae. But suddenly the restaurant was closed several years ago. Since then Michael and Paul had been searching for Maru-chan but had not been able to find him until that night.

    10857239_10152864428762356_4366614944756609720_o Michael was in a good mood due to the nice wine and delicious food, but he became merrier after Maru-chan appeared. My classmates also became happier to see our teacher’s big smile and praised me. “Wow! Well done!” Actually, I had not done anything, though…

     All of the food Maru-chan cooked was very nice and Michael shouted “Maru-chan is great!” All of us enjoyed the food and talked about many interesting topics. Of course I had a great time, too!

Kanreki Celebration! : My Tai Chi Teacher’s 60th Birthday Party Makes Me Very Happy!

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yjimage      Do you know that people celebrate their 60th birthday extravagantly in East Asia? It is called Kanreki in Japan. Kanreki means the completion of the 60-year-cylce of the Chinese lunar calendar. People who turn 60 are sent something red to wear by their family and/or friends in Japan. This is because newborn babies used to wear red clothes as the color was believed to repel evil in this country. After 60 years it is believed that people complete a full cycle and return to the starting point, so they ware red clothes. DSCF0810

     Why am I writing about this tradition? My Tai Chi teacher reached her 60th birthday and there was a big celebration for her at Sir Winston Hotel in Yagoto at the end of November. She looked gorgeous in her RED dress at the party!

   DSCF0811  Actually, when some of my teacher’s students started planning it half a month ago the party was supposed to be small with only several people. But it eventually became big enough to use a banquet room in the hotel because 60 students from her five classes got together to celebrate her 60th birthday! 

     The atmosphere of the party seemed like a wedding reception. Many of the items in the room had the word “Wedding” on them. But there was only one exception: There was a candle blowing ritual by the teacher instead of the usual wedding cake cutting ceremony. DSCF0861

     The participants enjoyed talking to other classes’ students, their congratulatory speeches, and delicious food. Of course, so did I! But I could not remain seated at the table because I was the party photographer and had to move around during the party. DSCF0880

     料理 After the party I spent more than one week making a special photo album with more than 30 pages for my teacher and souvenir cards for the participants. They appreciated it and gave me many gifts later: lots of cake, money, coupons, message cards etc. I was greatly impressed by their consideration, especially my classmates’ surprise! They bought me a big lunch!

    I usually have lunch with them at the schIMG_6294 ool cafeteria after our Tai Chi class. It only costs around 400 yen or so. But they insisted on having lunch at a restaurant in a department store nearby that day. I did not know that they had been planning to treat me as a ‘thank you’ until we were about to leave the restaurant. They stopped me taking out my wallet and told me in chorus that they would pay for me. I was very surprised! My Tai Chi teacher’s Kanreki celebration made me very happy!

Jazz Concert at a Buddhist Temple

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saikoji1     A Jazz concert at a TEMPLE?

     I was very surprised to hear from the deputy head priest of Saikoji Temple in Toyohashi that he was organizing a Jazz concert at the temple, but decided right away to join it because it is rare to have opportunities to listen to Jazz music at temples in Japan. saikoji2

   Incidentally, Saikoji Temple is famous in Mikawa area for an event called Tori-no-ichi. Tori-no-ichi’s literal meaning is the Rooster Fair and a market selling lucky charms for business, especially decorative rakes called Kumade. Actually, the day before the concert was Tori-no-ichi. So, a big Kumade rake was displayed at the temple.

     The concert was held on November 23rd. I was very surprised again when I entered the temple because the room was packed with little children. saikoji3

     This is the right place, isn’t it?

     A Jazz concert was certainly held at the temple. It started solemnly with the priest’s greeting to the audience under gorgeous golden decorations. It was a concert indeed, but it was different from others I have experienced. saikoji6

     First of all, there were no seats in the room. The audience could sit down on the floor anywhere they liked. Actually, they did not need to sit down. If they wanted to stand up, they could. Secondly, they were able to do anything they liked, for example, dancing, running around, and even making sounds! So many of the children were holding something to make a sound, such as maracas made from milk cartons, percussion instruments made from empty boxes, or rolled-up newspaper. Actually, I did not know until that day that the purpose of the concert was to cultivate children’s artistic expression.saikoji5

      The musicians were Minoru Yoshiki, the bassist, Noriyuki “Knocky” Nakahashi, the pianist, and Syuji Mori, the tenor saxophonist. Once the music began, the children got excited and started to express their feelings freely. Some clapped their hands, some ran around, some hit the floor with rolled-up newspaper, and some played their handmade instruments. I think this freedom of expression was because children are not bound or fixed by rules. But meanwhile, adults like me are limited by many restrictions. I would need gallons of alcohol if I needed to let my real self out…saikoji4

     Interestingly, the bassist and the saxophonist moved around in the room while playing, though, keyboardist could not move around. The concert had no separation between the stage and the audience, but had a free atmosphere. I had a great time at the temple!

Nagoya Castle’s Castle Gates and Watch Towers 2: Watch Towers

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     1403058_10152815111282356_7611750469628211205_o “I said JUST eleven!” Professor Miura said, looking at Chris from the corner of his eyes again.

     Professor Miura is a specialist in castle architecture at Hiroshima University. Chris Glenn, the famous radio DJ and samurai expert in Japan, was interviewing him about Nagoya Castle’s gates and watch towers. It was November 15th and I was attending the lecture. 1513753_10152815111457356_992569869806058203_n

     The number eleven, Professor Miura mentioned, indicates the number of watch towers in Nagoya Castle. Watch towers were the buildings for looking out, the strongpoints of defense, and arsenals before the Meiji Era (1868).

     “I said JUST eleven!” Professor Miura said again. The whole room was filled with giggling. You know the reason if you have read my former article (Nagoya Castle’s Castle Gates and Watch Towers 1: Death Box). Actually, almost the same thing had happened a few minutes previously when he mentioned the number of castle gates in Nagoya Castle. He said “I said JUST six!” at that time.

     10155448_10152815111777356_721926655084910360_n “Why did you say JUST eleven?” Chris asked him, rolling his eyes. Professor Miura nodded approvingly and said, “There were more than 80 watch towers in Hiroshima Castle and Okayama Castle. Kumamoto Castle and Himeji Castle had over 100 watch towers! Therefore, the number of watch towers in Nagoya Castle was extremely small.”

     Actually, two more watch towers were planned to be built in Nagoya Castle. But Osaka Castle, which was the enemy’s stronghold, fell in 1614 before all the watch towers were completed. That newfound victory is why the foundations for those watch towers remain unbuilt-on.

     Interestingly, the designs of the watch towers in Nagoya Castle are all different. Their size, style, shapes of roofs and windows and everything are diverse. Professor Miura gave a funny example to illustrate this uniqueness. “Imagine all the fighters in the Japan Self-Defense Force are different.” Oh, I see…1939566_10152815111937356_3404223952661816583_n

     One big difference between Nagoya Castle’s watch towers and those of other castles except for its diversity is their largeness. Each tower is as big as other castle’s main buildings (donjon). After the lecture, the participants had a rare opportunity to tour one of the watch towers. It is called Seihoku-Sumi-Yagura, and used to be the main tower of Kiyosu Castle, which was the castle of Oda Nobunaga, one of the most powerful feudal lords in the Age of Provincial War (the 16th century). That is why the watch tower is also called Kiyosu Yagura.

     10430362_10152815111882356_7696285545257231049_n Kiyosu Castle was demolished and its main tower was reconstructed as one of the watch towers in Nagoya Castle at the beginning of the 17th century, when Nagoya Castle was built. I do not know the reason but the present main tower of Kiyosu Castle is a replica of Inuyama Castle’s main tower…

     Although the number of watch towers is very small, the scale is more impressive than other castles due to the capacity of Nagoya Castle’s watch towers. Moreover, Nagoya Castle had a series of huge roved corridors which surround the main enclosure of the castle. It was called Tamon-Yagura and was also a gigantic store-room for weapons and armor. The width of the corridors was about six meters and the dimensions were equal to more than 300 watch towers from other castles. Unfortunately, this has not been rebuilt yet after it was burnt down by air raids during the Second World War. 1618320_10152815112082356_4570931935487098778_o

     I wrote in my previous article that enemies could not enter through the castle gates or other places. The reason is the existence of this huge series of corridors. It was impossible to break into the main enclosure of the castle through the strongest gates and the roofed huge corridors at that time. Actually, the corridors had a disconnected fireproof compartment, and the idea of fire protection was introduced to castle architecture for the first time in Japan. Not only its military preparedness but also the concept shows that Nagoya Castle was the most advanced architecture in Japan in the 17th century.

   10257195_10152815112942356_8133282589992585861_o   Professor Miura shouted, “Nagoya Castle should be rebuilt to its original style including Tamon-Yagura! It is Nagoya City’s duty!” Yeah! I would like to see the beautiful appearance of Nagoya Castle with the legendary Tamon-Yagura!

Nagoya Castle’s Castle Gates and Watch Towers 1: Death Box

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     1506169_10152815110842356_4771654284456702730_o  “I said just six.” Professor Miura said that with a sidelong glance at Chris. “I said JUST six.” He repeated.  

     It was November 15th. I was attending a lecture on Nagoya Castle. The lecturer was Professor Miura of Hiroshima University. He is a specialist of Japanese castle architecture. The MC was Chris Glenn, who is famous as a radio DJ and samurai expert in Japan. This lecture’s theme was the gates and watch towers of Nagoya Castle. 10714011_10152815110922356_443045128408129985_o

     “Okay…what does JUST six mean?” Chris noticed that Professor Miura had repeated the phrase and asked him. Professor Miura started explaining it with satisfaction…

     “As I said, there are JUST six castle gates in Nagoya Castle. This number is very small. For example, Himeji Castle has 19 gates. Why does Nagoya Castle have such a small number of gates? Because it didn’t need so many gates due to each one’s strength, such as Masugata-Mon Gate.”

     “Oh, yes. Death Box…” Chris nodded.

     1658130_10152815111102356_1262957222292603576_o Masugata-Mon is a box-shaped gate. Once enemies entered the box, they would be shot to death by ambushing guards. No one could either move through or return alive from the gate. That is why Chris called the gate “Death Box.”

     The present main gate of Nagoya Castle, which was rebuilt after the World War II, is a replica of the gate called Fujimi-Yagura from Edo Castle. But the original one was a “Death Box.” So Professor Miura was shouting, “That gate is not a part of our castle! We should rebuild the gate to its original appearance!” Yeah, he is always passionate about Nagoya Castle… 10688258_10152815111187356_6083034233513872565_o

     The other gates were also strong. The gate called Omote-Nino-Mon is also known as Kurogane-Mon, which means “iron gate.” It was made from iron just as the name suggests and was about 21 centimeters thick, protecting against not only bullets but also cannon balls in the Edo period. Ninomaru-Ote-Nino-Mon is a gate with a big roof. This type of gate is called Korai-Mon. Korai-Mon were excellent at preserving the construction materials against deterioration because of the weather and its unique shape was to allowed archers to shot arrows.

      Therefore, the reason there were only six gates in Nagoya Castle, is each gate was much stronger than the other castles’ gates. But you might think, “But enemies can enter the castle from other places.” Actually, they could not. I’ll write about that next time.