Category: Japan

Kakiemon Elephant

Kakiemon Elephant

This Kakiemon elephant is on display at the British Museum.

This is apparently made between 1660-1690 in the Kakiemon style.  Kakiemon is the first to create the enamel porcelain.  What is interesting about this sculpture is that the artist has never seen an elephant.

You might have noticed that the elephant trunk in the photo is pointing downward.  There is a superstition in the east that pointing downward is for good luck.  In the west, it is the opposite.  It should be upward.  Another case of east and west not meeting.  LOL

What do we know about elephants?

  • Their gestation period is 22 months, 2 months short of 2 years pregnancy.  Ouch
  • Their life span is between 50 – 70 years but their was a recorded one of 82 years of age.
  • There are two types of elephants:

Asian (Indian) Elephants which smaller in stature, smaller ears and only the male have tusks.

African Elephants are larger with larger ears.  Both male and female have tusks.  They are               also  less hairy than the Asian elephants.

 

 

 

Ashi Girl (Japanese Drama Review)

Ashi Girl

Ashi Girl (Japanese Drama Review)

After Overprotected Kohoko, Ashi Girl is my new Japanese drama to follow.

I have just watch the first 2 episodes with English subtitles and the 3 one in a ‘raw’ form.  Well it was that good that I had to watch it even if I only barely understand it.  🙂

Hayakawa Yui is  a 16 year old girl, who lacks motivation in her studies.  She is a bit of a tomboy, the one thing that she excels in was PE (Physical Education) more specifically, running.  She can run so fast that  everyone comments that the only fast thing about Yui are her feet.

Yui lives with her house-husband father, a doctor mother and a brainiac younger brother.

One day, Yui went into her brother’s ‘boy cave’ to call him for dinner but found him looking like he was about to commit seppuku, which is better known, I think, as harakiri (belly cutting/suicide).

The brother told her immediately that that was not the case but he has invented a way of going back into the past.  He wanted to send all the bullies from his school to the warring era of the Senguko period.

Her brother showed her the device, which was the knife he was holding, that would send anyone to the past.  Before the brother could warn her to be careful, Yui unsheathed the knife, which catapulted her into the Senguko period.

She was so hungry that she was about to eat fungi growing in the forest.  But warned by a rather handsome young man that the mushrooms were poisonous.  Yui fell in love.

The young man happens to be the crown prince.  He was Hagi Tadakiyo.

Despite her school uniform, the men thought she was a boy and she got recruited to be one of them as a foot soldier.  They thought she was Yuinisuke, the son of one of the villagers.

When she got to the village, Yuinisuke’s mom pretended that she was her long lost son.  The mother knew immediately that she was a girl and she sort of protected her.

From then on, she met a lot of adventure but her raison d’etre was to be closed to the crown prince.

She was back into the present by the second episode.  She found that she was missing the crown prince.  She dreams about him all the time.

So in the third episode, she opted to go back to the past and save the crown prince, who was said to have only 6 months to live according to history books.

Ashi Girl is apparently a manga story.  I have to admit that it is really quite endearing to watch.  Yui and the crown prince are so cute.

So looking forward to more adventures of these two.

I think this drama is composed of 12 episodes.

 

 

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.

I say Japanese dramas are quirkier and often have original and unexpected take on life and love.

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: –

Ramen Loving Girl

It is a simple story and comprising of 4 short episodes.  Koizumi is an attractive, quiet high schooler, who is an ace ramen eater.  She would travel for hours to find the best noodle shop.  Koizumi together with schoolmates Yu and Misa ate ramen from restaurant to restaurants.  They tried level 5 spicy ramen, pineapple ramen, creamy ramen, sweet ramen and more.  Along the way, they met the Jirokians, disciples of the Jiro Ramen Restaurant, which apparently was mentioned by a British newspaper, The Guardian, as 50 Restaurants to Eat at.

 

Fragile

I love this medical drama.  It gives you a different perspective about hospital, doctors and the medical profession.

According to the lead character, it is not the doctor but the pathologist that diagnose illnesses.  It is the pathology department that go into what disease a patient is suffering from by looking into the blood and other samples.

Really worth a watch

 

Age of Harassment

This is a very enlightening, provocative and politically correct drama.

If you a gainfully employed, you must watch this drama.  It tackles typical instances that can usually happen in an office that are just sometimes taken for granted but shouldn’t be.

A lot of those “that is true’ moment in this drama.

 

My Boss My Hero

A really funny and engaging school drama.

It is about a 27 years old son of a Yakiza/Mafioso who is rather intellectually challenged.  The Don, father, forced him to return to finish high school at least if wanted to be the next mafia boss.

There are so many hilarious scenes and also there is a heart to this drama.

 

Seigi no Mikata

This is a real gem.  It is a story of a 15 year old girl and her ‘trials and tribulations’ suffered from the hand of her older sister.

Her sister is rather cruel to her and yet despite this the older sister’s actions always end up with a positive effect, which made her more vain and yet popular.

Totally recommend this!

 

Sengyou Shufu Tantei

This drama actually is very memorable not only because the lead woman Fukada Kyoko is so pretty and the two male leads are gorgeous.

No, the drama actually tackles marriage, love, trust, fidelity and forgiveness, amongst other.

Serina is married to Fumi, who works in a large corporation.  Serina is a stay at home wife who is utterly devoted to her husband, that often she would confess that she is her husband’s shadow and proud of it.

Fumi’s work is competitive and stressful and involved pretty late nights duties.  His chief, a woman, started seducing him.  Before too long he was attracted to her.

Serina on the otherhand secretly started working for a detective agency as an assistant to Jinnai, who developed feelings for her because of her innocence and purity.  Jinnai gave Serina self-worth and confidence.

Despite Fumi’s cheating, Serina loved him with all her heart.

It is an enjoyable series.  Well recommended.

 

Jiu

I have just finished today (2 Sept 2017) this drama series.  It was first shown in Sept 2011 starring Meisa Kuroki as Isaki and Mikako Tabe as Kadokura.  These two girls where like chalk and cheese.  Isaki is a detective and was super fit and get defeat most of the men in her team.  Kadokura is a very girly detective (she got the moniker of Miss Cannes because of her winsome appearance) but very intuitive.

Together in their own way tried to get Jiu, a blond haired, white suited mysterious man, who was involved in kidnapping.  He suffers from Stockholm syndrome being once a kidnap victim.

Anyway that is the precis.  I am not going to reveal the plot in its entirety as the twists and turns make this drama so watchable.  Highly recommended.

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!

 

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