Monthly Archives: August 2012

School Lunch August 27-31

School is back, and with it we return to our weekly review of lunches in Okinawan Schools.    This week was cut a bit short by Typhoon 1215 and the Kyubon holidays, but we did have two days of school. Tuesday August 28 Milk, barley rice, baked fish fillet, vegetable stir fry, clear soup with root vegetables. Today’s meal is not the one planned for the day.  Although the typhoon was well past by Tuesday, the strong winds created high

Okinawan Obon (Kyubon)

This week marks the start of obon in Okinawa.  Unlike in mainland Japan, where obon occurs in July or August, this special period occurs in late August, on the 15th day of the seventh month of the old kyureki calendar.  As with jurokunichi and the recent harvest ceremony umachi, Kyu Bon follows the calendar of the old Ryukyu Kingdom. In 2012, Kyubon falls on August 30, 31, and September 1. Bon, or Obon is a three-day event with roots in Buddhist and Confucian teaching that spread from China.

Typhoon 1215

This weekend Typhoon 1215 is hitting with a lot of force.  You can check out the path and information in English on the Japanese Meteorological Administration’s website. It’s interesting for me how many natural disasters Japan is prone to.  Mainland Japan gets a few every year, and even more in the south around Okinawa.  Most of the time, typhoons aren’t a big deal because buildings here are meant to withstand earthquakes and strong winds.  The yellow circle in the picture above

Osaka Castle Part 2

Back in June, I covered some of the grounds and parks surrounding Osaka Castle.  Today, I have pictures from inside the grounds and keep.  Osaka Castle is full of history, but can become quite crowded as well.  When I went it was in the midst of Golden Week, and the crowds meant a long line to enter the keep and almost no chance of seeing any of the displays.  Although the peak of the building offers great views of Osaka,

2012 Nishime Eisa

I’ve talked about Eisa before, but one of the great things about this Okinawan take on dance and drumming is that there are so many ways to do it.  Almost everything is up for grabs when it comes to unique community identity in Eisa performances.  This past weekend, I attended the annual Nishime sumo competition and Eisa on Kumejima.  Nishime is one of nearly 35 aza or neighborhoods on the island. As at the Gima Okinawan Sumo competition, the purpose

An Offering of Sake

The Japanese word for alcohol is known throughout the world.  Sake is not only the name of a specific type of drink, but is as ubiquitous as xerox was for paper copies.  Unlike in the West, where beer began as a food source with longer shelf-life than bread, sake had a higher purpose in Japan.  Like many aspects of Japanese Culture, alcohol was initially part of religious ceremonies.  As hand and mouth washing is still common at temples in Japan,

Daito Sushi Recipe

Daito Sushi is a specialty of the Daito (Borodino) islands in Okinawa prefecture.  The islands are located 320 kilometers east of Naha and the mainland.  I had the privilege of living on Kitadaito for three years and enjoyed the fresh maguro (tuna) and sawara marinated sushi they are so well-known for.  I don’t have the super secret recipe they use out on the islands, if you want that you’ll have to go visit, but here’s a good taste of an awesome type

Kume Island Festival Roundup

This past weekend was the two-day annual Kume Island festival.  Due to a typhoon during its planned weekend, the festival took place on August 10 and 11.  There was a lot to see this year, and since it is the islands largest festival of the year, it provides a lot of unique insights into Japanese and Okinawan culture, along with a fun night for the whole family.  Check out the video blow for a quick look at some of the

Shopping in Japan

Shopping may not be instantly recognizable as an aspect of traditional Japan, but the art of  selling has long been part of Japan’s culture.  Looking back into Japan’s history, we can see the mark of consumerism in the merchant class of the hierarchical days of samurai rule.  When Japanese society was divided into the various classes, its sure to be noted the merchants were not accorded much honor, though they did have a group to their own. The samurai’s fall came in part because

Silver Pavilion Buildings – Kyoto

Last week, I shared some of the amazing sights surrounding the grounds of Kyoto’s famed Silver Pavilion.  Of course, the historic building is the reason most people travel up the winding, shop laden street to the gates of the building.  The Silver Pavilion started as the retreat of failed Shogun Yoshimasa in the midst of the Onin War (15th century)* and remains today as a cultural landmark. The Pavilion is a two-story wooden structure with wood tiled roof.  Unlike the

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