Monthly Archives: April 2012

Golden Week

Golden Week marks a string of holidays around the start of May in Japan.  With three official days off, many people take the opportunity to use a few of their precious vacation days (nenkyu) to travel or otherwise relax for an extended period.  This year, the holidays fall on Monday, Thursday, and Friday, so with just two days of nenkyu one could easily go on a 9 day trip.  This has made the Golden Week holidays one of the biggest

Philosophers’ Path Roof

Roofs in Japan have always fascinated me.  I think it is probably because I grew up in Arizona where they are all brown and a lot are flat.  Even modern Japanese roofs tent to maintain an interesting aesthetic appeal, yet change by region.  In Okinawa, for instance, many are made of clay. These roofs are along Kyoto’s Philosopher’s path.  The path is a long, scenic walkway, that is a great and free way to see the city.  I was lucky with this shot, getting

School Lunch April 19-25

Thursday April 19                 Milk, barley rice, meat balls, gourd stir-fry, miso soup, apple jelly This week had a delicious stir-fry with combu and kanpyou (dried gourd shavings).  The miso soup had enoki (long white mushrooms with small caps), and seaweed.  The meatballs were Japanese-style with a slightly sweet sauce. Friday April 24               Milk, Okinawa Soba, Chingensai and beansprout salad, orange Here’s an Okinawan classic.  Soba are buckwheat

Tokashiki Beach

Tokashiki Island is located west of the Okinawa mainland in Okinawa Prefecture. It’s a mountainous island with diverse opportunities for travel.  One great stop are the white sand beaches that allow for snorkeling, camping, and hiking to isolated spots for rest and relaxation.  Here are a few pictures from a trip during the month of August.

Making Miso Onigiri (Riceballs)

Onigiri are the original Japanese fast food.  An onigiri is simply a rice ball.  Like bread to westerners, onigiri is the go to food on the move.  Its portable, easy to make, and contains plenty of calories.  Today there are a lot of different types of onigiri in different shapes and sizes.  Here’s a deliciously easy version that will take you a step or two past plain rice.  Its also something you can make with the left over miso after

Clay in Okinawa

Every culture has its own history of art and tool development.  One of the most interesting things about Japan, is that it has such a long and isolated history.  The fact that for much of Japan’s history it was culturally isolated, means we can find answers to some of today’s questions in the relics of the past. There are many questions, but if you travel through Okinawa Prefecture, you might find yourself wondering about the red roofs, the shisa lions,

Kitadaito Island’s Phosphorous Mine Ruins

Three hundred and twenty kilometers from the Okinawa mainland, two small islands sit alone in the South Pacific.  The Daito Islands, one time the Borodinos, have a short history, having been settled only 100 years ago.  Still they made it in time for both world wars.  Kitadaito is the smaller of the two islands, and boasts one of the most unique blendings of culture in Japan.  During the war, Kitadaito was settled mainly to harvest phosphorous.  It never became a

School Lunch Apr 12-18

Thursday April 12                 Milk, yakisoba, fried pumpkin sandwich, vegetable soup Yakisoba is a common Japanese dish, especially during summer bbqs.  Usually soba (buckwheat) noodles are used, but often spaghetti is used instead.  Yaki means fried or baked, so the dish is fried noodles.  Usually vegetables are fried on a large pan.  Meat and noodles are added and a slightly sweet sauce added just before serving.  The pumpkin sandwich sounds a bit strange, but

Mabuni (Suicide) Cliff Okinawa

There are books written on the subject of World War II, of the horrors and reasons, so I won’t go into it here.  Still there are places throughout Japan that remain a testament to what happened in the hope future generations do not repeat the same mistakes.  One of those places is in Okinawa and is called Mabuni Cliff. Located in Southern Okinawa, Mabuni cliff remains a reminder of the dangers of war-time propaganda, which helped make Okinawans and the Imperial Army

Japanese Chicken Curry Rice

It may not look like the most appetizing, most beautiful dish among Japanese cuisine, and Curry Rice is one of those foods you never really hear about outside of Japan, but almost every kid here holds it dear.  When I was studying Japanese culture, I heard about sushi, miso, and teriyaki… but never about curry.  Curry really isn’t a native Japanese food, having roots in India, but like many aspects of Japanese culture, its been adopted, changed and Japanized.  Curry Rice has become

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