27 February 2012

Ten-pin Bowling on the weekend

Our family went to play the ten-pin bowling at 'Round 1' (http://www.round1.co.jp/ Japanese language only) on the weekend.
It was my first time to play the bowling in last 15 years. It was also the very first time for my 8 years old daughter to play the bowling and it was so good to see how much she enjoyed.
I had a little double that the ten-pin bowling could be suitable for young children like mine because I had hardly heard any of my friends took kids to the bowling venues and also the kids' birthday party at ten-pin bowling is not popular at all in Japan. There is no catering service for food or drinks and we are only allowed to buy cans of drinks at the vending machines at the site.
Despite my expectation, the bowling centre was packed with many family, students, even old people.
Surprisingly, the bowling scene was the same as 15 years ago. I expected it had been transformed with more colourful and fancy high-tech gadgets. But it did not disappoint me and rather made me comfortable and enjoyed the game with my family.
I guess it is universal but what we do to get started at the bowling centre is: go to the reception to fill in the form with names, gender etc. , hire bowling shoes at the shoes-vending machine, find a bowling ball from a wide range of weight which suits your style, and go to your designated lane. The score board is all computerized, off course, so just start to play. After the game, go back to the reception and pay the bill including the shoes hire.
Unexpectedly, I played so well and decided to show off my scores here:-))
Although my whole body is aching today, it was worth it.

18 February 2012

Fugu (puffer fish) - the hidden Japanese cuisine

When you think of the typical Japanese cuisine, you may come up with the dishes such as sushi, tempura, sukiyaki, and teppanyaki. These are the popular menu at the Japanese restaurants in overseas as far as I know. But if you had ever lived in Japan, you could think of more and I assume 'fugu' is one of them. I have to confess that the 'fugu nabe' (the puffer fish hot-pot) is one of the dishes I missed a lot while I lived in overseas.
I call the fish in the above picture as 'fugu' since that is what we, Japanese people call. It could be translated to a globe fish, blow fish, puffer fish, bubble fish, etc. but I don't know exactly what is the appropriate word to describe the fish above. In Japanese, it is written as 'river pig' in kanji.
The 'fugu' is one of the most celebrated dishes in Japan. It is lethally poisonous and the fugu chefs have to have a special licence to cook the fugu by the law in Japan.
The 'fugu' meal course could be consisted differently depending on the restaurants but here is an example what a middle-class Japanese family could enjoy the meal.
First, you cannot miss 'tessa' in 'fugu' course menu - sashimi, raw fish, of fugu as above picture. It is sliced so thin and you could put 'kabosu', green citrus fruit, and curl 'konegi' & 'naganegi' - similar to Welsh onion - in sliced raw 'fugu' as you wish.
As an option, you could have 'fugu kara-age' - deep fried 'fugu' as the picture above. It is very yummy indeed.
The main dish, the'fugu nabe' - 'fugu hot pot', comes as above. You may not like to imagine but some of the fresh meat of 'fugu' still move on the plate.
You put the 'fugu' and other vegetables into the hot pot and cook for a while. After the fugu and vegetables are nicely cooked, you put them in 'ponze', a citrus-based sauce, and eat them.
The best of all of 'fugu nabe' for me is the 'ojiya' or 'zosui' - a rice soup as the above picture.
'Fugu' could be poisonous but it is SO yummy. Whether you take risk or not, it is the way you could enjoy the Japanese winter.

12 February 2012

2.14★Valentine's Day 2012 in Japan

The celebration of the Valentine's Day in Japan is a little different from the one in the rest of the world. In the post W.W. 2, a Japanese chocolate manufacture promoted the Valentine's Day is the day that the Japanese women give the chocolate to men who they like. In return, men give something back to the women on March 14, called the White Day.
On the Valentine's Day, it is a great chance for the Japanese women to profess one's secret feeling - love - to the special one, called 'honnmei choco' - the chocolate with real love. It is also common to give chocolates to male bosses, co-workers, male classmate, and even family members. Those chocolates are called 'giri-choco', literally means 'obligatory chocolate', and women are obliged to buy dozens of chocolate packages for the day. I personally think it doesn't sound quite right to call this as obligatory but to call 'thanks-always chocolate'. You will see the piles of chocolate packages in the special event sections for Valentine's Day in supermarkets, department stores, and even in 24hours convenience stores.
This unique chocolate culture is now widespread to the point that the young girls exchange chocolates with their female friends, called 'tomo-choco', friendship chocolate and my 8 years old daughter is more keen to give chocolates to her female friends than boys.
Apparently, there is a new trend that we, women, are allowed to buy expensive chocolates to ourselves, called 'jibun choco' - chocolates to oneself. The beautiful package of chocolates in the above picture was given from the mother-in-law to my daughter. It could be a very new trend that grandparents give chocolates to grandchildren, called ... maybe 'mago choco' - grandchildren choco?!
Honmei (real love), giri (obligatory/ or, thanks-always), tomo (friendship), jibun (to myself), perhaps, mago (grandchildren) chocolates ... whatever, whoever it is, the Valentine's Day will be filled with love, friendship ... and chocolates in Japan.

01 February 2012

Book Review: 'Japanese Culture Introduced in English'

I've got to know there are a number of books introducing all-about-Japan in English. There are many but similar titles: 'Introducing Japan in Simple English', 'Japanese seasonal events introduced in English', 'Japanese culture introduced in English' etc.
I picked up the above book titled: 'Ede wakaru eigo de shoukai suru nihon bunnka - Japanese Culture Introduced in English' with illustration' published in 2009 by the author Mr. Koji Kuwabara. (the publisher: Natsumesha CO.,LTD. http://www.natsume.co.jp/, Japanese language only).
It is easy to read, easy to see and understand the context with many colourful illustration. It is surely appealing to young readers.
There are six contents; Japanese life and people, travel and history, Japanese traditional entertainment, Japanese arts, Japanese martial arts, and Japanese food.
There are books similar to the above written by non-Japanese and interestingly the view to the Japanese culture is different from those written by Japanese natives.
On February 3, it is 'Bean-throwing ceremony' ('mamemaki' or 'setsubun' in Japanese). I will put a devil mask and run away from my kid who will be throwing roasted soybeans and calling out 'Devils out! Fortune in!' (oni wa soto! fuku wa uchi!) tomorrow.
The long-awaited spring is coming soon!