Monthly Archives: March 2012

Kastella Cakes

There are a lot of different types of omiyage in Japan, but perhaps one of the most famous is Kastella Cakes.  Castella is a type of  fluffy sponge cake with roots in Portugal that is now a specialty of Nagasaki.  One brand in particular, Kastella, is famous throughout the country.  During our school trip, we purposely stopped at the Kastella factory just to get omiyage for the students and teachers back home. The original Kastella flavor is honey, but there

School Lunch and Sobetsukai Food

Thursdays are my usual day to post about the previous week’s food in Japanese Junior High and Elementary Schools.    The Heisei 23 school year is out, however, so below last Thursday’s Meal I’ve included some pictures of the kinds of food served at the more formal school sobetsukais I attended. Thursday March 22 Milk, millet rice, baked salmon, sesame dressed spinach salad, dashi soup, satsuma potato mochi This meal was on the high side of Japanese, and was decent

Zamami Festival and Fire

Japan is known for its Festivals, and they do indeed hold special significance in Japanese Culture.  Festivals are celebrations of the harvest, be it land, sea, or in general.  They are opportunities to give thanks and to pray, to relax, and most of all to socialize and develop stronger communities ties.  Just about every community celebrates at least one Festival every year, and often many.  I was lucky enough to catch one of Zamami Island’s festivals in August a few

Chahan Recipe – Okinawan Fried Rice

This version of Chahan is an Okinawan take on fried rice. Like many Okinawan dishes it is heavily influenced by Chinese cuisine. Modern Chahan also often has an American influence in the addition of spam as a low-cost protein. Below is a yet quick take on this Okinawan favorite. If you feel up to the challenge, try my Advanced Chahan recipe. Ingredients 3 servings cooked white rice 1 piman (green pepper) 1 tamanegi (onion) 1 package frozen vegetables 2 large

Regional Linguistic Differences ね。

In America there are often different ways to say the same thing, depending on where you are and where you’re from.  At a recent sobetsukai, the fact Americans call cola various things in different areas was of high interest to many of my co-workers.  I had to explain about the fact that ‘pop,’ ‘soda,’ and ‘soda pop’ were all valid, but generally used in different areas.  The thing I had to explain was, that while there are regional dialects in

Zamami Island – Okinawa

Zamami Island is one of the Kerama Islands just west of the Okinawan mainland.  Like many of the Okinawan Islands, it boasts beautiful beaches and sea life, and is a popular tourist destination for fishing, whale watching, and to observe sea turtles.  If you’re interest in visiting Zamami, be sure to check out a website developed by a friend and English teacher on the island.

School Lunch March 15-21

Thursday March 15               Milk, barley rice, sliced beef stir fry, mixed meat dumplings, Chingensai soup This one is high on the Japanese side of things, even if beef and meat was not a normal part of traditional Japanese foods. Friday March 16               Milk, neapolitan spaghetti, sauteed beans, fuwatto ichigo (strawberry) mochi You might think the mochi saves this meal from being completely foreign, but the filling helps make

Byodo-in Temple – Uji Kyoto

The Byodo-in Temple is located in Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture.  It is located near Kyoto city and is a great place to see if you have the time.  The main part of the Buddhist temple is the Phoenix Hall, which is featured on Japan’s 10 yen  coin.  There is also a smaller replica of this hall in Hawaii.  Here are a few pictures from a trip I took there.

Ancient Tales of Yomitan Village

Theater is just as much a part of Japanese culture as Broadway is a part of America.  It certainly is no longer the main form of entertainment, but it is an important one.  There are two major types of Japanese theater.  Nou is masked performance, while kabuki was geared more for the masses with song dance and drama. I was fortunate to get an invitation to view a version of kabuki currently playing around Okinawa.  The play is titled 読谷山花織の宴 (untanza

Inkan: A Japanese Signature

How do you prove something is original?  In the West we still rely on signatures, though with the decrease in the usage of checks and with digital new digital technologies, perhaps even that is fading away.  In Japan, the inkan [seal] takes the place of signature.  Much as seals were used by royalty in England and many other counties, in Japan inkan are used as authentication.  Nearly every official document must be marked by a registered personal seal.  In addition, there

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