Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Edible Fujisan

Here you are! Senbei(sen-bay)! ----- Japanese traditional rice crackers baked and brushed simply with sweet soy sauce or additionally coated with green seaweed or crystal sugar , sesame, red pepar----- In fact there are varieties of flavor. Besides flavor, there are varieties of shape as well such as a square, a circle shape or other modified shapes.

Recently my daughter brought a bag of senbei as a souvenir when she visited Shizuoka Prefecture which is famous for Fujisan(Mt. Fuji), a symbolic mountain of our country. She found a unique shape of senbei at a store.

You see, how these senbei look like Mt. Fuji! Just pleasant idea to take an advantage of a prefecture being at the foot of this symbol of Japan.

Delicately they are coated with different taste toppings. Guess what each senbei represents? Yes they have a reason for this. Not being coated in random. Look at a picture of Mr. Fuji above. You see an answer.
Amazing! Each represents the four season. Mt. Fuji senbei covered with white snow on top, one with trees of which leaves changed colors into red, one with green leaves in spring and presumably with no sprinkle on senbei representing summer. How do you like this idea?

It surely added casual topic to our tea time.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

January 17

(image from Yomiuri Online)

Seventeen years have passed since then.

The disaster took away more than 6,000 lives ,
which left a great sorrow and grief in their families and friends.


we will share the prayers again today at the exact time
when the Great East Japan Earthquake took place last March.

My thought is with them throughout the day today.

also my previous post in 2005

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reunion on Facebook

(young peer group of various nationalities)

It was in 1980 when a total number of 60 or more Rotary International ambassadorial scholars from the world got together at Georgia Southern College in Georgia, US. It was for an orientation for us to get prepared for the following school year to fulfill an ambassadorial task as well as an academic purpose.  Two months was long enough to develop our life-long friendships. We shared lots of time with studying and attending activities prepared by the Rotary. We were much concerned about why we were there. We had enough time to talk about various topics such as our own concerns, country, culture, politics, academic interests and so many. We were just so frank to expose ourselves into a unique community and eager to understand the differences.

Of all my close friends, including me, none of us applied to the same universities in the US. It meant we would have little chance to meet again. That brought us about a desperate moment of good-bye at a municipal airport while carrying a large luggage and going through a gate for each destination in the US at the end of summer.
If Apple or Windows had been there with us those days, it would not have been such a sad farewell. I think they arrived in a society a little bit late for us.
Since then, many had failed to keep in touch with one another except one or two.

Now this is what happened last fall. Owing to Facebook, we were united again! It was really amazing and dramatic. The only thing to do was that you just type out a friend's name in a friend search box. Then, look what you got there. Like we drew a fishing net, we found out familiar faces one after another. Sometimes we had to ask others in the Internet whether a profile picture we saw was exactly the one we had been looking for. Yes, it has been 30 years. It sometimes was not easy to tell. But most of the time, this kind of anticipation turned to be a big scream of joy at a computer screen. "Bingo! We got you!"
This way, now we had 17 members in our Facebook group all from different continents on earth.

(right click to open this in a new window for a larger image)

We're now seriously thinking of the whole reunion in person somewhere in the world not on Facebook anymore . In a timely fashion, in May, the Rotary International will have the International Conference in Bangkok, Thailand. Ahead of the main conference there will be also the Rotary Alumni Meeting for granted students. It would be nice if some of them can get together during the event. Yet, taking the mileage indicator into consideration, Bangkok might be too far for some of us. The choices are Argentine, Belgian, Brazil, Egypt, Finland, France, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico,Thailand and USA. Wow! I don't have any idea.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

In the 7th morning of the new year

(image from Wikipedia)
Yesterday it was the 7th day of January 2012. It was the day for Japanese to have a traditional meal called "seven-herb rice porridge." Seven days have passed since the beginning of the New Year and we've been enjoying eating and drinking quite a lot with families and friends. Now many people are back to our usual life after a long holiday. It's time to give our stomach a rest for something simple and good for digestion. So here what it is. "Seven-herb rice porridge."
Speaking of seven herb, if you ask your Japanese friends, they might not be able to name all of them. Some are not familiar to us any more. So for my own sake, here I wrote down the list below:
Seri (water dropwort, Oenanthe javanica)
Nazuna (shepherd's purse)
Gogyō (cudweed, gnaphalium affine)
Hakobera (chickweed, stellaria media)
Hotokenoza (nipplewort, lapsana apogonoides)
Suzuna (turnip)
Suzushiro (Japanese white radish)

While cooking rice porridge, I prepared all these vegetable cutting into slice or dice and just before rice porridge done, I put all of them onto rice in a pan and steamed for awhile. Done. Here you are.

I love this custom of eating this rice porridge with herbs in the 7th morning of the new year. It has been widely accepted as a good fortune as well. I learned that this custom begun way back about 1,200 years ago in the ancient aristocratic society to ward off the evils at the beginning of the year. Noways we have this meal wishing for our good health and longevity.

Yesterday I used brown rice for porridge and we had it along with several side dish to go along with plain taste of rice porridge such as "umeboshi" pickled plums, "tsukudani"fish boiled in soy sauce & sugar with ginger and other spices and other tasty local products.
Dig in before it gets cold!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The First three days of the New Year

(snapshots from my New Year's holiday)

We had a very moderate weather during the first three days of 2012.
How are you enjoying your New Year's holiday at your place?
Hope you had a very special First day of the New Year.

On the first day of 2012, my husband's mother came back to us from her nursery house for a short visit. Before her, having our daughter back home from Yokohama at the end of December, our whole family got reunited again. Though my mother-in-law didn't speak much as she used to, she seemed that she enjoyed having Osechi (authentic food especially for the first three days of the New Year) together which I cooked all by myself taking three days to complete just in time. In fact, having the New Year is definitely the most hectic time for every housewife what with cleaning a house and with cooking in advance. Yet the New Year's holiday is the most exciting festive event in every family all through the year.

On the first day, we went out to our neighboring Shinto shrine to pray for our healthy and happy year. Getting a happy charm and drawing a sacred lot to tell my fortune of the year was such a fun. In fact the fortune I got said "Excellent luck!" How lucky me! Shopping arcades adjacent to shrines and temples were crowded with people which I loved to enjoy strolling along busy streets while picking some sweet dumpling or other traditional sweets from some popular food stands.

The New Year's Holiday is the biggest event on a calendar in our country. Many people move between their home and their parents living in the remote cities for a happy reunion.


This trip meant a lot this year especially for those whose hometown located in Tohoku. Many lost their loved ones, many lost their home and many still don't have a place to settle down due to the tragic earthquake and tsunami. Yet people looked so happy to be back where they belonged to for the sake of their family bounds and friendship.

"Happy New Year to every one! May this year bring all of you lots of happiness and good health! "

You may like to read this one, too.

(the last two images are from the web news)

Monday, January 02, 2012

Happy 2012

So many things happened in 2011-----
good things and bad things.
The nightmare fell onto us on March 11th .

The rest of the world was just kind and thoughtful to us.
Thank you the whole world for gentleness.

May the year of dragon bring much power & peace to people in disaster areas.
And let's find out what else each of us can do for them.

Happy New Year !