Category: Japan

Overprotected Kahoko (Japanese Drama Review)

Overprotected Kahoko (Japanese Drama Review)

I am watching this Japanese drama and I cannot recommend it highly enough.  If you want to watch just one drama for this week, make it this Jdrama.

It has everything: laughther, pathos, angst, first love, being rejected, nuclear family, children who had flown the nest coming back to roost, ungrateful family members, desperation, filial love, everything.

Overprotected Kahoko is a story about a girl who in normal circumstances should be confident and knew how to navigate the world or at least her surrounding environment with independence and boldness typical of young adult.

Kahoko is 21 years old and in her last year of university and at this point should have a job to go to after graduation.  But Kahoko is a different sort of girl.  She has the pureness and innocence of a 12 years old.

She was overprotected by her parents, especially by her mother.  The mother does everything for her.  She was Kahoko’s human alarm clock, she wakes Kahoko every morning, she cooks and makes the girl’s bento for school, she was the driver, she takes Kahoko everywhere.  She also chooses all of Kahoko’s clothes and what to wear each day.  Kahoko relives her life everyday by watching from her library of videos of her ‘growing up’ everyday.

One day Kahoko met a young man, a young painter who is rather ‘upset’ with the world, how unfair the world is.  He lectured Kahoko about her ‘princess’ complex and its effect to Japanese progress.

Their relationship is so cute.

There are so much going ons in this drama as it is a nuclear family with maternal and paternal family members are having issues of their own.  But kudos to the actress playing Kahoko, she looks so pure and innocent, she is so watchable.

I can’t wait for episode 5.

Dokushin Kizoku (A Swinging Single) Japanese Drama Review

Noble Bachelor

Dokushin Kizoku (A Swinging Single) Japanese Drama Review

As a Sunday treat, I am watching a Japanese romantic drama called Dokusjin Kizoku, I am not really sure what is the exact translation in English but this drama is also called A Swinging Single as well as Noble Bachelor.

This drama is really quirky.  I love it.  The noble bachelor is Mamoru Hoshino (Tsuyoshi Kusanagi), the president of a film company.  He is a confirmed bachelor as he can’t abide living with a woman.  He said that if he does get married, they have to live in connecting apartment of even better separate buildings. 🙂  He is eccentric with a fetish for polishing his many pairs of leather shoes.

He was currently living with his ‘homeless’ brother, Hoshino Susumo (Hideaki Ito) who is undergoing a divorce proceeding.  He is a bit of a womaniser, thus, his wife is taking him to the cleaners.  She got the house, the car, the savings and asking for more compensation.  Susumo works in the same company as his brother and is in charge of the business side, in which he excels.

The woman that these brothers are attracted to is Yuki Haruno (Keiko Kitagawa), who is a young scriptwriter.  She too is wary of marriage.  She is a modern woman who does not want to be tied to doing housework.  She wanted to pursue her ambition.

Having said that, she still believe in romance.  She was surprised to hear Mamoru saying that being in love is like having a temperature of 40 degrees centigrade, which is being out of your mind, mentally incompetent and must not make decisions like buying a house and getting married. LOL

Susumo is a bit jealous of his brother.  He aspires to be the president of the company but deep down he thinks his brother is really better suit.

Audrey Hepburn singing the background music, Moon River, adds poignancy to the film.  Love it.

The only thing about this film that makes me uncomfortable is that both brothers, who are both adorable, are attracted to the same woman.

During Yuki’s birthday both brothers tried their best for her. The look on Momoru’s face seeing Yuki being snogged by Susumo is just heartbreaking. 🙁  Finally Momoru’s fallen in love and it was so sad.

Yuki ended up dating Susumo but she remained rather attached with Momoru.

Momoru felt that to forget his feelings for Yuki, he needed to do something drastic.  That is he allowed himself to be persuaded by his aunt to go on a blind date and get married.

The last 10 minutes of the whole series shows that Momoru and Yuki are meant to be.  At last they finally shared a tight embrace and a kiss among drying fish! 🙂

Must See Japanese Dramas (JDramas)

Yoko Shimada (Japan)

Must See Japanese Dramas (JDramas)

Japanese dramas have their own niche.  It is as popular as the Korean dramas internationally.  Some say that Japanese dramas are the best among the lot. 🙂

Well having watched various dramas from South Korea, Taiwan, China, Thailand and even the Philippines, Japanese dramas I think are the most cerebral and the most arty. They are shorter as well.

When you are watching a Japanese drama, you’ll find the ending as not as predictable as its counterparts from the above countries.

Perhaps this is the reason why many of Japanese dramas are remade by the other Southeast Asian countries.

Anyway, my list is not complete, a work in progress, and not in any order: –

  • Hana Yori Dango
  • My Boss, My Hero
  • Age Harassment
  • Papa to Musume no Nanokakan
  • Nobuta wo Produce
  • 5-ji Kara 9-ji Made

  • Nodame Cantibile
  • Attention Please
  • Fragile
  • Seisei Suruhodo, Aishiteru
  • Dokushin Kizoku(Swinging Single)

Tamagoyaki Recipe

Tamagoyaki, photo by Carol Elep

Tamagoyaki Recipe

Tamagoyaki is a Japanese egg roll.  It is pretty easy to make with practice.  This is just like the Korean egg roll.

Below is a recipe from www.japanese101, where a video of how to make it is easily available.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Mirin (or 1/4 tsp sugar)
  • 1 tsp oil

Instructions

  1. Mix eggs, salt, soy sauce and Mirin in a bowl.
  2. Heat a pan at medium high temperature and add oil. (A rectangular Tamagoyaki pan is best, but a round pan can work as well.)
  3. Pour a thin layer of egg mixture in the pan, tilting to cover the bottom of the pan. After the thin egg has set a little, gently roll into a log. Start to roll when the bottom of the egg has set and there is still liquid on top. If you let the egg cook too much, it will not stick as you roll the log. Now you have a log at one end of the pan. Pour some more egg mixture to again cover the bottom of the pan, with the roll of egg at the end. After the new layer has set, roll the log back onto the the cooked thin egg and roll to the other end of the pan.
  4. Repeat adding egg to the pan and rolling back and forth until the egg is used up.
  5. Remove from the pan and cool for 3-4 minutes.
  6. Slice the ends of the log off and then slice the log into 1/2″ pieces. You should see a nice spiral pattern in the cross section of the egg.

Sukiyaki Soup Recipe

Sukiyaki Soup, photo by Cristy Miclat

Sukiyaki Soup Recipe

Sukiyaki Soup is a Japanese hot pot dish, a winter soup in fact.

INGREDIENTS
  • ¼ kg. beef loin, thinly sliced (if you happen to live near a Japanese supermarket look for beef intended for shabu shabu or sukiyaki) 🙂
  • 1 red onion, sliced finely
  • 1 stalk leek, sliced
  • 4 shiitake mushrooms, stalk removed
  • 1 clump enoki mushroom, trimmed
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and sliced diagonally
  • 200 g udon noodles, fresh or prepare according to the packet’s instructions
  • slab of tofu, cut into cubes then browned on a pan or grill
  • 1/2 napa cabbage
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup sake
  • 1/2 cup dashi
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup mirin
METHOD
  • In a large casserole, arrange the beef slices, onion, leek, carrot, shiitake and enoki mushrooms, udon noodles, tofu, and napa cabbage.
  • In a separate pan, pour in the water, soy sauce, sake, sugar, dashi and mirin. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and leave to simmer for a couple of minutes.
  • Just before serving, pour the bubbling broth into the casserole and let the rest of the ingredients simmer in the broth until cooked.

Enjoy with the family and friends

Forest Bathing @ Hampstead Heath

Wood shack at Hampstead Heath, photo by PH Morton

Hampstead Heath, photo by JMorton

I love this Manet-like impressionism photo at Hampstead Heath by PH Morton

Forest Bathing @ Hampstead Heath

Forest bathing has become an accepted form of relaxation and stress management in Japan.  It was started in the mid-80s.

But what is forest bathing?

It involves going into a woody land or forest, a green space, and hike leisurely; relax and breathe in all the freshness and negative ions, the so-called air-borned vitamins’, given off by the surrounding trees and plants.

Let all the stress of the day melt in the comparative embraces of the forest.

In London, there is a woodland called Hampstead Heath, a 320 hectares of open, green space perfect for forest bathing, among other things.  It is a place for a great family bonding.  There are numbers of ponds, there is even a ‘secret garden’ which is architecturally excellent.  It also covers a natural swimming pool for ladies and also for men, there are the Parliament Hill, the Kenwood House, Highgate pond, etc.

Be astounded at how great Hampstead Heath is, when it is just 6 kilometres away from the very busy bustling city centre of London, the Trafalgar Square.

It is a place for biodiversity: human meets natures and wildlife in a capsule of forested heath.

So Londoners, now the weather outside is no longer frightful, put on your walking shoes and have a forest bath!

 

Masks

 

Masks, photo by PH Morton

Masks

#1 Noh Mask

#2 Zo-Onna Mask

#3 Hannya Mask, represents a female demon

#4 Hanakobu Akujo

#5 Uba

These masks can be currently and readily admired at the V&A Museum, East Asian gallery.

Masks are used for protection, disguise, performance and entertainment.

The above masks were Japanese and were sculpted from wood.  They were based from the 14th century classical Japanese theatre called Noh which was much loved and patronised by the Shogun, supreme military leader.

Soft Shell Crab Tempura

Soft Shell Crab Tempura, by Arnold Gamboa

Soft Shell Crab Tempura

Soft shell crabs are just the normal typical everyday edible crab.  In a life of a crab, it undergoes some sort of moulting where it sheds its old tough tight casing and develop a new one to grow into. The new casing  is soft and this is when the is crab taken into the kitchen to delight the tastebuds of the gourmets for a soft shell crab

Ingredients

  • 2 soft-shell crabs
  • 85 g  plain flour
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1/2 sugar
  • 200 ml carbonated/sparkling water, chilled
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • oil for deep-frying

Method of Preparation:

Make up the tempura batter by mixing the flour with the salt and sugar.  Gradually add the chilled sparkling water.  Stir until there are no lumps.  Don’t go on stirring and daydream. 🙂 Note: over stirring will create gluten, which will make the batter stodgy.

Using a large platter, spread the panko bread crumbs.

Power up the deep fryer and heat the oil to 180ºC

Dip the crab into the tempura batter, ensuring all parts are covered.

Roll in the crab into the platter of panko bread crumbs. Cover every nook and cranny. 🙂

Shake gently and drop the crab into a deep fryer and let it sizzle until crispy all over.  This should take about 3-4 minutes.

Carefully fish out the crab and let it cool over some kitchen paper towels, which will absorb excess oil.

Repeat procedure with the next crab.

Enjoy with some green salad.

🙂

Egg Rolls Recipe

I have been seeing lots of egg rolls as a side dish in many Korean and Japanese drama.  It looks so good that I thought I should try making some.

It is fairly easy to make and quite quick as well.  Just remember to cook these under very low heat to give you a chance to manoeuvre the egg pancake into a fairly neat roll without burning it.

Egg Rolls Recipe

Ingredients
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon green part of spring onion, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper for seasoning
Instructions
  1. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl, beat in the milk and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Whisk until combined and no lumps are left, otherwise run into a sieve to remove any remaining lumps.
  2. Add in the carrot, onion and spring onion and stir until combined.
  3. Lightly oil a medium size frying pan or a pancake pan over a low heat.
  4. Pour in half of the egg mixture into the pan, when half-way cooked, slowly and carefully fold the omelette into a roll using a flat spatula and a pair of chopsticks (if available) and push it into the left side of the pan. As a space is created from the omelette roll, pour in half of the remaining egg mixture to it.  When the consistency starts to set, connect it by rolling it to the first batch, thus creating another layer.  Finally pour in the remaining egg mixture; do the same, roll in to make a stack.  Just imagine making a Swiss Roll. 🙂
  5. Transfer to a chopping board and slice into bite size pieces.

Enjoy!

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