After having observed our director’s yummy looking bento at lunch, we decided to try another experiment in Japanese cooking. Simmered vegetables (googling for a recipe, we found out that it’s likely to be called Nimono (boiled things)). He had told us roughly the ingredients and how it is done. It sounded easy enough, so we tried our luck at the supermarket. Some daikon (giant white radish), lotus root, carrots, mushrooms. We thought why not also try a bit of egg plant and echalottes. Since some other root whose name I forgot was supposed to go in as well, we also chose a piece of a long root that looked right to us. Then sheets of fried tofu, soy sauce and mirin. (more…)
Archive for February, 2009
Since we have gone through this experience recently, I thought I share my insights for the benefit of other gaijin (foreigners) who have to do the same.
Since we have a limited time horizon in Japan, we rather went for the cheapish segment. We bought from the following stores:
Of course there’s also IKEA in Japan, but of this we have had already our fair share in Europe….
Of course the above list of stores is by no means exhaustive, it just contains stores that were in convenient reach for us.
Kawaii means cute, and cuteness rules Japan. Hello Kitty, in Japan referred to as Kitty-chan (-chan being an endearing suffix, used e.g. for small girls) is just the tip of the iceberg.
Everything has cute mascots in Japan, even government agencies. Even serious matters are preferably communicated by a cute character. This seems a bit surprising to us, but it is surely entertaining. Let me give a few examples I personally encountered. There’s the fish warning of earthquakes. Another example is the cat that is informing about sexual harassment at Tokyo University (every employee received a little card like this). (more…)
I didn’t think a update had to be done so soon. And such a big one! But our terrace garden got hugely improved today!
Our super kind friend and Japanese teacher took us in her car to a big gardening store in Tsukuba. If they had had more big flower pots, I would have bought even more stuff (even though we would have needed a truck instead of a car). But I felt like in paradise. In the spirit of decorative blooming Japanese trees, I got a small cherry tree, a blooming plum tree, and a peach tree. On top of that, two very small Rhododendra and a Camelia. And just for fun, a Kumquat tree! To grow up the lattice, some small Clematis, and to cover the ground, lots of pansies, some primroses and other small flowers.
Together with the pots and the 10 bags of soil, we could hardly fit in the car.
Once at home, a lot of re-potting had to be done, such fun!
This is my new motto. I don’t go home without having bought a potted plant. And this is easy these days. Spring comes early here, the plums are already in bloom, and every supermarket sells potted flowers to help the spring feeling along a bit better.
And since I have decided to turn our roof terrace into a blooming forest, it is high time to get started! So far, I have been unable to find a large scale garden supplies store in Tokyo (no surprise), so I am starting out slowly. The wire lattice that surrounds our terrace is turning from a vice into a virtue, since I decided to hang small flower pots form it. Later I will also try to make some climbing plants grow on it.
Picking up a random plant every day, I will get an interesting collection (so far, I own a small Geranium, a Gerbera, some Ivy and other things I do not know the names of). My newest acquisition is a tiny plum tree in full bloom.
Updates will follow!
There are few edibles that are as strongly associated to Japan as green tea. And it is true, green tea is everywhere. Since tea is traditionally only drunk in its green form in Japan, it is usually just referred to as tea, お茶 (o-cha, where the o shows respect).
Since green tea is sensitive to high temperatures (the better the tea leaf, the lower the temperature must be), you can set Japanese “tea kettles” (they are actually rather hot water dispensers that keep the water at a prescribed temperature for an indefinite time) to 60, 80, 90 and 100 degrees Celsius.
Green tea is consumed in masses as ice tea (but unsweetened) sold at the innumerable vending machines located at every street corner. For common use, it is prepared from tea bags, which in general are also suitable for cold preparation. The connoisseur of course brews it in varying degrees of sophistication from tea leaves. (more…)
Japan in winter – NO, really, I just have to say it. The heating system, no, I mean, really.
On the web, I read that Japan is the most energy efficient of the industrialized countries. Let’s even admit that they have their industrial emissions under control. For the private sector, they quote that “people only heat one room in winter” as a plus point. But that the Japanese are used to freeze their, ahem, behinds off in winter, surely, can’t be counted as a case of energy efficiency?! (more…)
Our new flat is located just off Kappabashi-dori (Kappa Bridge street). This street (and surrounding ones) are notable for selling everything you might need to open your new restaurant, from pots big enough to cook small children in, to waiter and sushi chef uniforms, to the plastic food that is on display outside many Japanese restaurants. Apart from this, they also have everything you might need in your own kitchen at home. You want Japanese tea boxes, a Damascus steel chef knife or, say, carp shaped chopstick rests? No problem.