Monthly Archives: May 2012

Katsu Don

Katsu don is now a classic lunch dish in Japan, that while not very traditional, has almost become a kind of Japanese soul food.  When Japanese people want a quick, hearty meal at a restaurant they’re likely to order curry, a noodle dish, or katsu don.  Katsu is a fried pork cutlet. Traditionally, most Japanese ate little or no meat, so the dish was developed after the Meiji era when Japan was opened to the wider world.  A don, however, just

More on Japanese Roofing

Aside from a childhood obsession with Legos, I’ve never really been huge into architecture and building, yet something about Japanese style roofing has always caught my eye.  I did another post on roofs in Kyoto and one on clay that showed a bit about how roofs are put together in Okinawa and Japan, but a recent trip to the Shikina Royal Gardens gave me the opportunity to learn more about how Okinawan roofs were made while at the Udun Palace. The first part

Udun Palace – Okinawa

Last Wednesday I took you on a virtual tour around the Shikina Royal Gardens in Naha.  You might have noticed a glaring omission, there were almost no buildings among the pictures.  Though the gardens are beautiful and expansive, the main attraction of Shikina is the pond-side Udun Palace.  The palace is an expansive building built as a second home for the Ryukyu Royal Family. The building was also used to house visiting dignitaries from China who came for the crowning

School Lunch May 1-9

Thursday April 26                 Milk, chahan, shrimp and vegetable dumplings, harusame soup This meal was from last month, but thanks to Golden Week and two Ensokus it never saw the light of More Thing Japanese.  So I’m including it here.  Chahan is one of my favorite meals and this one was no exception. Harusame is a thin clear noodle made of beans.  It was in a broth with hakusai and mushrooms. Monday May

Shikina Royal Garden

The Shikina Garden dates to the end of the 18th century and the Ryukyu Kingdom.  A UNESCO registered World Heritage site located in Naha City, Okinawa, the gardens are a located on large grounds with a multitude of historic buildings, views, memorials, and sights.  I was lucky  enough to be introduced to this less known historic landmark during my Golden Week trip to Naha. The grounds are the site of the largest second residence of the Ryukyu royal family.  There

Naha Hari Dragon Boat Races

Okinawa is Japan’s southern most prefecture.  Its comprised of around 160 islands* some of them very close together.  Since Okinawa is a set of islands and has such a long, rich history, it is no wonder there is a strong maritime tradition.  The Hari or Dragon Boat comes from Chinese culture and is one of many cultural items adopted by the former Ryukyu Kingdom.  The old country used the over-sized canoes to get between islands.  Over time, competitions between neighbors overcame war and

Spring Ensoku – The School Outing

Every Year students around Japan have days specifically set aside for school outings.  Unlike western field trip that usually have some sort of cultural theme, Japanese Ensoku are usually geared towards giving the students time outside to enjoy nature.   Elementary Elementary ensoku are usually comprised of a walk to local landmark or park where students play, eat, and learn.  The walk is a physical activity that gets the students outside and allows them to visit local areas in a

Spring Birds in Okinawa

The weather is warming, and with the Sugarcane harvest over, many birds come to the Okinawan islands.  Since spring is mating season, many of the birds have been far more apparent than usual as they show off.  This blue bird is a male Blue Rock Thrush that likes to hang out around my garden.  He was dancing around in a pattern, moving through three different spots continuously.  It’s mate is grey and loves to eat worms from the Gaijin’s Garden. I also

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