Belated New Year Card


In Japan, people begin to move to their hometown around the end of the year, stay with family, eat ozoni or osechi(New Year dishes) and exchange New Year Cards. Although, less and less people exchange paper cards these days. This year’s symbol(Chinese) is snake.

I had some topics to write here, and checking traffics every day, just my life was sort of chaos to write blog in English.

I hope I would update more often this year…

So, belated happy new year 2013!




Soundtrack of “Taira no Kiyomori” is Available

by [Z]ZAPAnetサーチ2.0

There are some people who are looking for “Taira no Kiyomori” information. It’s a pity it cannot be seen outside of paid channel, recently I found that soundtrack is available. There are two of them.

The drama is said that it has only low rates, but for me it’s very enjoyable.

The stations I stop by are often campaigning the trip to Kobe or Kyoto.

Statue of Kiyomori etc.


Stamp rally in Kobe.

More Kiyomori-related topics will coming up…

Japanese Cotton Handkerchief (Tenugui) Shop, Anzu

When I go to Kanazawa to go to clinic, sometimes enjoy shopping like this.

I was wondering what this shop was from the long time before. Actually it turned out that it’s Tenugui shop.

Kanazawa has lots of local and special veggies.

Displayed like this. Small bag (kinchaku) and cases for smartphones are also aveilable.

In Japan, sometimes “I’ll rest my bone” means “I’m going to take a rest”.

Although I didn’t have extra money to buy it, but after heard dyeing manufacturer stopped making this one, changed a mind. It’s so well dyed. It’s a shortest prayer in Buddhism, Hannya Shinkyo, in Japanese about 300 letters.

44 Daiku-machi Kanazawa City
Tel 076-221-1787

The Curtains of Green-To Feel Some Coolness

If you have ever come to Japan in summer, you’d be beaten by its humidity. Even in such a rural area full of green, everyday temps up to 35C this summer.

The other day, I’ve met MikeMark, James’ brother at the pub “The White Hart”. Mikehe told me that even it’s 40 C in Cyprus, because of low humidity not feel hot at all.

Anyway, to feel some coolness, ppl plant bindweed such as morning glory, goya (Okinawan vegetable) etc. Especially from the point of view of cutting sunshine, shading, or hopefully energy-saving.

I’ve seen lots the other day I walked in Kanazawa City. Here are some.

Lastly, our morning glory this morning, though still now so grown.

Gigantic Watermelons from Toyama – Joys of Summer

Today I’ve been to local shopping centre to return DVDs. Unfortunately I was 7 mins late, DVDs were treated as delayed, had to pay the arrear of 480 yen for the ones I’ve rent in 200 yen. Ouch! I’ve once paid 3000 yen! Such a money!

As it’s already so hot as 10:00am, went around the shops and found them.

Very big watermelon. Perhaps about 20 kg. It’s from Kurobe, if you know Toyama already, it’s a place of Kurobe Dam, and Tateyama Kurobe Alpen Route.

We have a custom of sending gifts (usually foods) each other in summer and winter, in my family between relatives. Former is called o-chugen and latter is called o-seibo. In such periods gift corners appear in shops.

One another shot.

We eat lots of watermelons generally in summer. But how long does it take if you get such a big watermelon?

Soma Nomaoi

Last weekend, Nomaoi was held at Soma City and Minami-Soma City in Fukushima. It was a festival I got to know last year after the quake and wishing to go. It has a 1070 year-long history since the era of Heike’s ancestor.

It was very hot and humid as usual as Japanese summer (over 30 Celsius is usual, sometimes over 35 C with humidity).

Official Website:
National Designated Important Intangible Folk Culture- Soma Nomaoi

From Asahi Shimbun. Click the link below and you’ll able to see the map and some pics, one of them was on their Facebook.

Nomaoi festival draws an evacuated family back to home

July 28, 2012


At this year’s Soma Nomaoi medieval re-enactment festival in Fukushima Prefecture, the “samurai clan” belonging to Toshihiko Umeda will gather for a joyous family reunion.

Umeda, 59, and his family, who had lived in the Odaka district in Minami-Soma, were separated after an evacuation order was imposed following last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake and accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

But the festival will serve as a vehicle for all the family members to get together for the first time in a while.

“Everybody has their jobs,” Umeda said. “So if it wasn’t for Nomaoi, there would hardly be a chance for all the family to come together.”

The centuries-old festival, where horseback riders don full body armor and stage mock battles, kicks off on July 28.

The scale of the festival was substantially reduced last year due to the March 11, 2011, quake and the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. But this year it will return to almost normal with more than 400 mounted “samurai” expected to participate.

Many of them, such as Umeda and his family, will return from areas to which they evacuated.

Toshihiko and his 81-year-old mother, Tsumako, live in the prefecture’s capital, Fukushima. Toshihiko’s wife, Yoshiko, 58, has evacuated to another district in Minami-Soma.

Kunihiko, 31, Toshihiko’s eldest son, who worked at a local equestrian club, has settled in Chiba Prefecture, to where his horse was evacuated. And Kunihiko’s brother, Katsuhiro, 28, moved to Ibaraki Prefecture, turning to an acquaintance for help in finding a job.

It marked the first time that each of the Umedas has lived outside their hometowns.

The Umeda family has taken part in the festival for generations. Toshihiko first participated when he was a second-year high school student. Kunihiko entered in his first year at junior high school, and Katsuhiro’s initial participation was in his second year of high school.

On July 22, Katsuhiro visited the horse-riding club in Chiba Prefecture where Kunihiko works, to practice riding. The younger brother rode a horse for the first time in two years.

“My muscles ached the following day and I had trouble at my workplace,” Katsuhiro said. “But I felt the old familiar sense of being shaken on the back of a horse.”

Kunihiko said: “I never wanted to leave my hometown, because I was surrounded by my friends and older members of Nomaoi. They had helped me since I was little. I don’t know when, but I want to return to my hometown.”

Probably this video was taken before the quake and radiation.

This one is for last year’s documentary with some English scripts. Horses were suffered by tsunami, injured or starved, too. Last year, the scale of the festival was significantly shrunk, and even it’s become bigger this year, still sightseers’ number hasn’t come back.

Professor Ryugo (Ryu) Hayano at Tokyo University, who is measuring Tohoku radiation actively just after the Nuclear Plant’s explosion, also attended to Nomaoi. Below is his album.

2012.7.28-29 Soma Nomaoi Private Pics

“Doyo no Ushi” Day

From Wikipedia

In Japan, mainly southern than Hokkaido, temps up to over 30 Celsius, something near 40 Celsius these days.

Today is “Doyo no Ushi” day. Doyo means before 18 days of Rissyu(first day of autumn in the old calender). Ushi means “ox”, you know Chinese Character or Zodiac. It’s today.

In Japan, although its custom is somewhat fading away, people eat eels which are soaked in “tare” (sauce, in good restaurant which has a long history) and grilled on warm rice – “Una don”.

In these years, many eels come from China. Today I’ll go out in the evening, perhaps will not be eating Unagi.

Japanese Historic Drama on Sundays and Toyama

On Sundays on NHK, they are doing historical drama yearly. This year “Taira no Kiyomori” in Heian era (lived 1118-1181). One of the first big two Samurai families. They were rivals and fought until one of them (Heishi=Heike, Kiyomori’s side)perished in 1185. Winning Genji took the power and made government at Kamakura in 1192.

Samurai (bushi) was at first guards of aristocrats. Then they became powerful, Heike flourished like aristocrats, in the bloom “If you are not Heike, you’re not human” one of the family member said.

This drama is complex and suffering of low rates, but in my Twitter timeline reputation is not bad. These days even NHK is using young actor/actress with short career to draw attention of younger generation, which discourages older generation. This time, hero KennchiKenichi Matsuyama (husband of Koyuki, who played in “Last Samurai”) and Hiroshi Tamaki (drama “Nodame Cantabile”) are doing well. Actors/Actresses of elder generations are far better.

I suppose low rates is because of complex plots and too many people appearance. I used to watch dramas like this as a pupil, but nowadays kids don’t. The language is old to understand for them.

New attempt is made, insider staff is tweeting the detail of the drama, and even one of the actors will tweet during the drama broadcast.

BTW, Heike is related with Toyama. Heike and Genji fought at Kurikara, between the border of Toyama and Ishikawa. I pass there by train once a month, it’s surrounded by not high mountains. There is the temple called Fudo-ji, according to their website their aim is pray  for  aborted fetus.

And more, after Heike was lost in the war, they’ve escaped and scattered everywhere in Japan. One of them was Toyama, called Gokayama, now UNESCO World heritage. Where my grandparents passed away 3 years ago were from.

The World Heritage- the Historic Village of Gokayama (Japanese and English, but in Japanese site you can see beautiful flash)

This is historical fork ballads called “Kokiriko”, there is men’s dance and women’s dance, and men dance with a sort of bamboo instrument called “sasara”. Their clothes are apparently not of farmers. It’s aristocrats’ one.

Here you can see the distinction of both dances. Among the lyrics, they are singing about discarding aristocrats’ hat and kimono, and becoming  farmers.

Still I regard here as my root, although it’s a bit difficult to visit for me, cause it’s hard to drive mountainside, and buses are a few. My aunt lives there running an inn , sometimes brings some souvenirs for us.

I ordered a name card like this, now waiting for arrival. If somebody personally know me but haven’t got name card reading this, maybe it’s the one coming to you…(the other side is in English).

(July 26th added: For foreign ppl, NHK is the paid channel. About 1 year ago, they made a payed archive only residents in Japan, and most of videos in the net were deleted. Maybe you’ll have to wait the DVD…)

Korean Boom, Korean Seasoning in Japan

Since 10 years or so ago, Korean culture has begun to flood into our culture. Dramas, films, songs and foods….

People learning Korean language have also hugely increased.

I’m not so eager to watch Korean love stories, which captured Japanese womens’ heart, nor Korean idols.

Just some food and serious films. Such as “Silmido“.

Today, I’ll introduce you a sauce I often make and store in fridge.

Just sesame is out of stock, before stiring.

My net friend, who is Korean-Japanese was not so precise about how much spoonful… something about that.

Ingredients: garlic(minced), ginger(minced), Japanese leak (minced), sesame oil, sesame, Korean red pepper(powder), soy sauce(there seems to Korean one exist) etc.

Each home has its own recipe.

In the plastic pack, Japanese-made kimchi, which my net friend calls as “fake”.

Yesterday’s lunch. Instead of Korean chilled noodle, made this using Japanese somen (thin noodles mainly eaten in summer).

Higashiyama – Old Town of Geisha

After leaving the washi shop, I headed to Asano River. It was the place kimono, Kanazawa’s original Yuzens were washed before sawn.

According to this blog writer, the remaining person that washing Yuzen in Asano River is only one now.

It looks peaceful but this river floods sometimes.

In my university days Higashiyama was not so famous to outside Ishikawa people I suppose, but then it was rebuilt for tourists, every time I see here on TV travellers in TV always go here.

Actually Higashi-Chayagai is the very small lane, but Higashiyama (literally, “east mountain”) is wider.

Many ordinary ppl live aside from souvenir shops or restaurants.

Most old houses are like these; of course made of wood.

Probably, not sure, it’s a very posh restaurant. “Ichigen-san”, first time customer would be refused.

And it’s a poster of Geisha Dancing Festival.

It was around twilight, some people were walking with their dogs.

Lights began to lit…

And at a shrine too…

As I walked quite a lot, on the way back to Kanazawa Station, took some rest on the banks of the river.

My souvenir. Natural salt made by authentic process in Noto Peninsula (North of Kanazawa). 500 yen.

It’s a shame because I took quite a lot of pics…