Monthly Archives: July 2012

Culture in an Age of Globalization or Things We Make

Japan, like the rest of the world, is changing fast.  Since Japan has such a long, isolation guided history, there are a myriad traditions and cultural aspects unique to each community.  With the spread of globalization, however, the crack that started with Japan’s opening in the Tokugawa era has become a flood of change and consolidation. It is true that Japan still lacks many unique traditions and culture, but it’s also clear that changes are causing dialects to disappear, festivals

Cabbage and Tofu Chanpuru

Today marks the start of my fifth year in Japan, and since school is out and there won’t be a School Lunch post this week, I thought it only proper to revisit my very first blog post on More Things Japanese.  Back then I did a recipe for Goya Chanpuru.  Today, I bring you another, more common version of this Okinawan favorite. Ingredients Small block of Tofu cut into large cubes 1 small cabbage 1 carrot 1 onion 1 green

Schedule for the 2012 Kumejima Festival

The Kume Island Festival is the largest matsuriof the year. It is a two day event that takes place in August and as with most Japanese festivals, is a time for celebration and thanksgiving. On Kume Island, the festival has developed into a huge mix of food, entertainment, and fun. When **Update** Due to Typhoon 9 the Kume Festival has been postponed until August 11/12. For 2012, the Kume Festival is scheduled for August 4th and 5th. Saturday: 5p.m. to

Why Japan Lacks a Sandwich Culture

Japanese food is great.  Before I came to Japan, I knew of teriyaki and sushi, but little did I realize how much  variety there truly is.  Over the past few months I’ve been blogging each week about the different school lunches we get, and while not all the food served is Japanese, it can give you a good idea of the range in Japanese food. Not convinced?  Here’s just a few Japanese foods: Tempura Tempura is a simple flour based breading

The Last School Lunch Before Summer

This is it.  The last week of school lunches before students go to summer break and I go back to eating convenience store bentos (lunch boxes) for the next month.  I’m going to miss the variety and relative healthiness (and standardized portions) of school food.  Since students aren’t in school, I’ll be working at my local Board of Education.  Most other teachers will alternate summer vacation days with work at school.  When they’re in town they’ll likely alternate between bentos, going out

A Day at the Docks

In some parts of rural Japan, or at least on small islands, days off are a unique chance for families to spend time together.  Students are often gone from home from seven in the morning until seven at night, and are even gone during many weekends for school sports and clubs.  When they aren’t participating in school related activities, they’re often studying (or playing with their friends for those less educationally oriented).  For parents, the scarcity of jobs combined with

Marine Day 2012

July 16 2012 is umi-no-hi or Ocean Day in Japan.  It is a public holiday that is uniquely significant given that Japan is an island nation.  Although the holiday has a somewhat erroneous history, in modern times it marks a day for the people of Japan to think about the wealth of the sea and its importance to Japan culturally and economically, while also giving thanks for the ocean’s harvests. Many municipalities celebrate with ocean related activities.  Northern Okinawa hosts many events

School Lunch in Okinawa for July 9-13

Monday July 9 Milk, wakame rice, shredded vegetable stir fry, skewered meatballs, and mozuku miso soup, miso cookie Today’s meal had a variety of sea plants featured in the cooking.  In the rice, shredded wakame, a type of seaweed, gave a little extra flavor to the usual white rice.  In the soup, another common local seaweed, mozuku, complimented the rich miso flavors.  The stir fry  had a multitude of vegetables, including dried daikon (white radish) and konnyaku (a jelly made

Glover Garden Nagasaki

Nagasaki is a city full of history.  As the home of Dejima Island, it was one of the first Japanese cities to be influenced by foreigners.  When Japan finally did open,  many entrepreneurs from around the world traveled to the city to take part in new opportunities.  One of them was Thomas Blake Glover from Scotland.  Upon the top of a hill he built a house that still stands today, along with several historical buildings and gardens. The Glover Garden (pronounced closer to

Summer Sounds

The transition from Spring to Summer is interesting for me in that it is marked by nearly the same thing as they were back in Arizona.  When we traveled up to Sedona to camp for the summer there were always cicada humming away.  In Japan, too, semi (蝉) or cicada mark the end of the rainy season and the start of summer. The large black bugs show up in trees and gardens, and their shells can be found on nearly

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