Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Japan is covered with heavy clouds

By the time every school is off for a month-long-vacation, the rainy season throughout Japan is supposed to be over and we were going to be ready for a sunny summer. But this year something is different. The seasonal rain front normally would have subsided by this time of the year but this time it remains over western Japan.

According to the meteorological agency, the humid and wet air from the East China Sea makes thick and wet clouds over northern Kyushu are and stimulates the rain front. This humid air is blocking a high pressure area over the Pacific from covering Japan. As a result we have a longer period of rainy days than usual and what was worse, the rainfall has been quite heavy and has brought about serious natural disasters such as huge landslides and floods mainly in western part of Japan.

In some area of Kyushu, the rain poured so hard in a short period of time and recorded more than its monthly rainfall.

Nagoya, where I live in, locates just about in the center of Japan but still we've had rainy days over this weekend and it pours so hard all of a sudden sometimes with a thunder.
Many people including me believe this is not a simple matter of natural disaster.
Man has been disturbing the principles of the nature. That brings about crucial negative phenomena here and there on the earth. How far are we going?

We're sorry for those people in Kyushu area who were damaged, threatened, injured and were killed by this wild rainfall. Hope that the weather will be settled down pretty soon. We don't want any more people injured and dead.
(all the images are from The Japan Time on Line)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Newborn cicada

Every summer I run into the moments of a grub's casting. Usually casting begins in the evening when it gets dark. It was so interesting for me to find one here that a little grub starts its casting early in the evening when I went to the mail box outside to pick up a evening newspaper. It must be quite a job for him to come out by stretching backwards first and before he falls off, he stretches forward and reaches to his previous body he has just casted away.
It is said that Cicadas in Japan live only two weeks in the trees while they live underground for seven years until they come outside on the ground.
Casting is such an exciting moment. Even its little wings are still wet and shrinked. His round and large dark eyes are cute against his white body. By the time the wings get dry, the color of a newborn cicada turns to dark. Then it's time to fly. Good luck! Live up your life!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How I enjoy myself after good-bye

I usually drive my husband to the airport when he goes out of town on business abroad. After he checks in at the airline counter, we have coffee together then say good-bye each other at the gate. Just after I see him off at the gate, I feel just empty. He's gone for about two weeks. Well, let's get back home. There would have not been any reasons to stay at the airport any longer? Oh, oh, wait a second. As I had talked about this airport before, it has many functions besides an airport itself. Why should I make myself enjoy to cheer me up. After I saw my husband's jet taking off, I started with strolling around for window shopping.

Would you like to see those 26 pictures one by one. Then, Click here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Once in a life time event but---

Every one was so excited about solar eclipse.
But owing to a bad weather, it was not possible here in my area to see solar eclipse.

Every TV program is broadcasting on live .

How exciting!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Yay, Unagi Day!

(one famous eel restaurant in my city)

This year, Doyo-no-Ushi-no-he(Midsummer day of the OX) fell on July 19th in Japan. Many Japanese in groups and families visit the local famous eel restaurants and eat unagi(eel) with rice. At eel restaurants, unagi are grilled on the charcoal and dipped into a heavy, special made sauce of their each secret and this process are repeated until they are done. In fact, this “tare”, a special sauce differs from each restaurant and that counts in deciding which restaurant is best.
Mmmmm, this heavy" tare" is a heavy mixture of all different ingredients based on soy sauce, sugar and other are all different from restaurants to restaurants and the recipe has been kept secret.
I know many visitors from abroad are stunned to know we eat eel but in fact you’ll love it when you try. I love love love unagi. Of course, you can take them out from a restarant and a department store.

But why are we so much absorbed in having it on this day?

Doyo” is the period of 18 days before the beginning of every four season on the lunar calendar. And today when we talk of “doyo”, it widely refers to the “doyo” of summer which brings about the hottest and hardest climate throughout a year. (by the way, “ushi”(ox) is a sign which refers the order of year, month, date and time based on the ancient Japanese zodiac cycle.)

People in olden days tend to follow an old saying that if taking some food of which names start with “u”, they have little chance to get sick during this hottest season.
(HIRAGA Gennai)
And there comes another story of one famous inventor of that era. His name is HIRAGA Gennai. He made one suggestion to one owner of the eel restaurant having a trouble on running his eel restaurant during hot summer with few customers. This famous inventor suggested that the owner should put an ad saying “Eat Unagi on Doyou-no-Ushi-no-he and you’ll be in a good shape during the hottest season.” Yes indeed, “u” for Unagi! So people love this and since then the custom has been enjoyed up until today. Eel has a good, stamina-providing nutritious balance, and it is ideal for this time of year, when people tend to lose their appetites because of the heat.
My family of course, went out to have unagi at one of the unagi resutaurants one week in advance when my daughter came home. It was sooo delicious.

(all of the pictures from two restaurants web sites)

Friday, July 17, 2009

The last rain of the rainy season

This is from my cell phone camera. There are puddles here and there in our garden. The moss gets so refreshed though. It's been raining pretty much since this morning. The sky is gloomy. The weather is humid and damp while the rain lets up but then the rain starts pouring again with a thunder. Cicadas in our garden have started buzzing while the rain lets up. The real summer will be with us pretty soon.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What do I do to relieve stress?

My blog friend, Dionne asked us "What do you do to relieve stress?" in her recent blog post. It's fun to read what her blog friends answered to her question. Dionne was talking about how much water eases her stress. The way she explained the water is just beautiful along with her awesome illustration and photos. You can read her here.

Well I hardly have a chance to stand on the shore to look at the ocean. But I'm pretty sure standing in front of the ocean listening to the sea make my stress relieved. How it would be nice to stand on the shore at night to hear the waves under the moonlight. I also love to liesten to the soft rainfall. It sounds as if the rainfall is washing any trifling matters away from my thoughts and makes me feel so refreshed. Spending time on someting creative is another way being free from stress. So I used up almost all my evening time on making this image of ocean. Well, it looks quite weird but handling Photoshopelements 2(wow, this is old!) gives me a good chance to change my mood.

Monday, July 13, 2009


These colorful star shaped small candies is called Konpeitou(kon-pay-toe). Konpeitou is usually 5 to 10 millimeters in diameter. Each piece is covered with tiny bulges, which occur in the cooking process. A word of konpeitou came from "confeito" in Portuguese. It's now one of the Japanese traditional and popular sugar candies which everyone knows. But as you see this word came from "confeito" in Portuguese, it was first brought to Japan by Portuguese merchants while Japan secluded herself from any other countries but Portugal and the Netherlands. Konpeitou was very rare sweets at first since we didn't know the technique to refine sugar and eventually konpeitou was a very precious sweet in those days and so they were often brought to the Imperial court people and the powerful landlords by Portuguese merchants or some Jesuit missionaries as the gifts before its making process was widely prevailed in the country. In fact the whole process of making tiny konpeitou requires time and delicate techniques. Nowadays there are many kinds of shops that makes konpeitou but there is only one long-standing shop in Kyoto that handmakes all kinds of tiny konpeitou and is a purveyors to the Imperial House of Japan.
Lucky me! because this store locates very close to the university where my daughter goes to in Kyoto. In fact she was home over this weekends to spend time with us. She brought the box of konpeitou especially arranged for Tanabata. Aren't they lovely! Too lovely to eat them.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Blackberries in the same bowl

This year again, my husband's mother picked up a plenty of blackberries at the corner of our garden.
I took a picture for posting , but it seems that my taste of choosing a bowl is not very different every year.
This year too, I put blackberries in a glassware without considering what I used last year and look at the picture I posted last year. The same! Well then I don't have to write about my husband's mother, either.
Anyway picture wise, it may not be so exciting but fruit wise, it is so good to have something fresh from our garden every year. I made it into a blackberry sauce which goes so well with yogurt.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

July 7th Tanabata

On July 4th we celebrate Tanabata. Tanabata( the Star Festival) is held on the evening of July 7. Its origins belongs to an old Chinese legend that the Cowherd Star (Altair) and Weaver Star (Vega) lovers were separated by the Milky Way and they are allowed to meet just once a year - on the seventh day of the seventh month. (in some other area, they have it in August)
The legend goes as follows:
A long time ago, TEN-KOU, the god of the sky, had a daughter called ORIHIME. Everyday she wove cloth for the Gods with a special machine called TANABATA.
TEN-KOU was worried because his daughter worked every day and did nothing but weave. So he introduced her to a guy on the other side of the river named Milky Way. His name was HIKOBOSHI. He took care of cows. When they met each other, they fell in love immediately, and spent all their time together. As a result, all the cows became sick and the gods' clothes became worn out, but there was no new cloth to make more.
This made TEN-KOU very angry and he stopped ORIHIME from meeting HIKOBOSHI anymore by taking her to the other side of Milky Way. This made the two lovers so sad that they couldn't work. TEN-KOU also felt sorry, so he decided to let them meet each other once a year on July 7th if they worked hard. Now, they work as hard as before and look forward to seeing each other only once a year.

Traditionally, people wished the sky would be clear on that day so the two could meet over the Milky Way. If it rained that day, the water level of the river Milkey Way got too high and could not be crossed. Eventually they have to wait for another one more year. Isn't it sad but romantic!
Though the legend was brought to Japan from China, at first it became a popular event among Imperial court people presenting one another his poem and then it was gradually modified and widely celebrated hundreds years ago among local people in various areas as the present style we celebrate Tanabata in Japan.

Today at many shopping malls and department stores, they prepare big bamboo trees and colorful papers for Tanabata Day.
Children and adults write their own wishes on narrow strips of colored paper and hang them along with other paper ornaments on bamboo branches. We place in the backyards or entrances of their homes wishing that our dreams and wishes come true.
( on the children's floor at the department store )
In advance before Tanabata, kids at kindergartens make their own Tanabata decorations and bring them back home. At this time of the season, just before going into the summer vacations, many kindergartens have the parents day and we come home together along with each Tanabata bamboo decoration.
Yes, as you see the date on the photo above, these two pictures are ones of my two children. I just can't believe that they once were sooooo cute. My son in the pictures was 5 and my daughter was 3 . She was so happy to visit her brother at his kindergarten. Long time ago-----yet sweet memories.

Monday, July 06, 2009


Lenorenevermore gave her readers such a great recipe for a watermelon cocktail  in her "Americana" post.
As a matter of fact, when I read her post, I kept two watermelons in a refrigerator. (one I bought from the shop and the other my neighbor kindly brought me on the same day)
Wow, such a nice timing that I ran into Lenore's blog on a watermelon cocktail.
I wanted to make a watermelon cocktail out of simple drive that I wanted to get the space back from two large watermelons in the refrigerator. Following Lenorenevermore's recipe, I cut a watermelon into small pieces taking seeds away as many as possible then put them in freezer. Then put them into a Cuisinart to blaze and it did a beautiful job. I added lime juice, sparkling water and next I should add a shot of gin!!! I stopped. Where is it? It should be at home. Yap, I knew my husband kept "Tiny Ten" next to his "Balveney". I added a shot or two? or whatever into two glasses of ours. Done? Nope! Lenorenvermore said "add a fresh little mint". I ran to our garden to pick up some mint leaves and put it into each glass. Perfect, isn't it!
Mmm, it was tasty and refreshing. My husband was pleased to see what I brought to him.
Thank you Lenorenevermore for a great hint for my refrigerator being free from a large watermelon. I keep the rest in the freezer and I can make some more glasses of watermelon cocktail.