Sunday, July 31, 2011

Crape myrtle- Sarusuberi

Now the crape myrtle blossom is blooming beautifully and strong. It symbolizes midsummer. It has a myriad of small, cute crape-shaped flowers of pink, red and white.

Crape myrtle is "Sarusuberi" in Japanese which literally means "monkey slip." Funny name. Its trunk surface is so slippy that even monkeys might slip down from the tree. The older it grows, the more slippy it gets.

It has another Japanese name, "Hyakujitsu-ko." It means "red flower blooming for one hundred days." It blooms for a long time under the blazing sun.

The name shows what it is.

I want to be like this flower.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Minoo Summer Festival

This time of the year people enjoy summer festivals,both small and big,across Japan.

Today I walked for thirty minutes to the Ashihara Park where Minoo Festival was held. Minoo city is a residential area located in the northern part of Osaka Prefecture.

A lot of families and young people came to enjoy the stands and stage performances. Some of the girls wore pretty summer cotton kimono called yukata.

There were variety of food stalls and attractions. The most popular stand foods are yakisoba fried noodles, yakitori broiled chicken with sweet sauce and cotton cancy. And one of the most popular attractions was yo-yo scooping. My favorite one is goldfish scooping game.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Double-faced Gauze Tenugui

Tenugui is a rectangular cotton cloth used mainly as a towel or headcover. In Japan it was one of the most common household items up until a few decades ago when terry cloth towel became popular.

Although everyday use of tenugui dropped significantly, recently a new type of tenugui, doule-faced gauze tenugui has been popular among young women. It features different fancy patterns on each side and has a high water absorption ability.

Today I had one around my neck when I played tennis with my friends. (Too hot and humid to play tennis) It protected my neck from the strong sunlight and absorbed sweat very well.

I'm a fan of this new type of Japanese tenugui. Wittily practical!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Folding Fans and Flat Fans

Japanese people use two types of poratable, manual fans. They are sensu and uchiwa in Japanese.

Sensu is a folding fan made of paper on a bamboo frame, usually with a decorative picture, design, or calligraphic character on it. It makes a popular foreign tourist souvenir especially in Kyoto.It is also used as an important stage prop in traditional Japanese dance and rakugo comic storyteller.
In addition, it is a must item in tea ceremony.

On the other hand, uchiwa is a round, flat paper fan with a wooden or plastic handle. It is often used to advertise many things such as new products, shops and some events. Sometimes we get uchiwa in some event or on the street. Compared with sensu, uchiwa has a more casual image.

I have an impression that young students fan themselves by uchiwa while older people carry sensu in their bags.

Thank you Mr. Gardener! Mosquito II

Today I was happy. I received a kindness from a gardener.

I met a middle-aged gardener near the Japanese garden of a certain hotel. He seems to come to the garden on a regular basis to take care of the garden.

"Hello!" I said. Then he said to me, "Hello. Weren't you bitten by mosquitos around here?"
So I explained my miserable experience yesterday. Then he smiled and put out something out of his pocket.
It was a Liquid Bug Repellent! "This is the most effective product," he said and then he sprayed the repellent on my arms.

I was really glad to see his kindness. The bug repellent worked much better.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ice Swan

In the midday scorching sunlight I happened to see a unique scene at the backyard of a certain hotel in Kyoto.A dozen of chefs were doing something with a serious look. There is a large block of ice and various kinds of tools such as a chisel, a knife and a saw on each table. They were creating ornaments of ice swans (maybe swan..) for the display of the banquet at night.

The older cook showed how to make one to the younger apprentices. The younger cooks looked very very serious.I suppose there must be a strict mentoring relationship between them.

I'm sure those ice ornaments will shine in the gorgeous party room and offer cool feeling to the guests.

The battle against the clock.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mosquito Protector

These two days I had to stay outside in the evening for work. There are a lot of trees and plants near here. As a result, I have been a miserable victim of mosquitos. I was bitten even on the face. Itchy! Itchy!

So yesterday I brought a liniment to relieve itching. It worked for easing an itch to some extent, but it didn't protect me against mosquitos, of course.

In order to protect myself I bought a new product at the drugstore this morning. Its catchphrase is "world-top-grade effect." I hanged it on my bag,hoping it would work powerfully.

Now I am Disappointed!

I suppose the mosquitos' appetite is far stronger than the protector's effect.

Monday, July 25, 2011

What a Noise!

Today I heard an interesting story from my friend.

This morning a middle-aged foreign doctor was surprised when he was waiting for a bus in Kyoto. At what?----------Noisy sound.

He asked to my friend, "What noise?"
At first she couldn't understand what he meant.

He asked again, "What insects are making such a big noise?"

Then she got it. " CICADA!"

It might be his first time to hear cicada buzzing in his life. Probably he lives somewhere where there are no cicadas.

Cicada represents summer in Japan. But I realized that each country has its own seasonal view. Japanese people have been proud of four distinct seasons and emphasized the change of the seasons. I think this is Japan's wonderful point of view.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Green Curtain

This summer a lot of packs of goya seeds are sold across Japan in preparation for the coming shortage of electricity. Why?
Goya is a quick-growing green gourd with a bitter taste. It is rich in vitamin C. The lines of goya leaves and vines make ieal natural curtains. They give us not only helpful shade but also a little cool and fresh air and feeling.
Goya Chample, a popular dish fried with various ingredents is my recommendation to make you more powerful in hot summer.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Yuru-kyara "Soft" Characters

For the past few years, Yuru-kyara or "soft" characters have been in boom in Japan. Today I had a chance to have a photo taken with Ebecchan. Ebecchan is the official mascot of Sanda city in Hyogo Prefecture. Along with Ebecchan, Kumamon, Kushitan and some other yuru-kyara were coming to Tennoji Park in Osaka.

Yuru-kyara mascots naturally made me feel relaxed and happy.

Then I went to Shinsekai area which seems a kind of unique and mysterious zone. I enjoyed playing "smart ball" and ate some cutlet on skewers dipping in sauce. Yummy!

Friday, July 22, 2011


Zucchini has been unfamiliar to me. I mean I 've never used zucchini for cooking at home. But yesterday I bought one. I was happy to buy something new.I checked some zucchini recipe on the Internet and I did it.

Very simple dish with bacon and cheeze but very very goooood!!

Now I am a zucchini fan.I thought zucchini tasted like cucumber because it looks like cucumber. But I found that it is a relative of the pumpkin family.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Eel-Eating Day

There are some annual events according to the calendar. Today is EEL-Eating Day in Japan. Eel sales is at the peak throughout Japan. People eat eel bowl-a bowl of rice topped with broiled eel basted with a sweet soy sauce to gain strength in mid-summer.

At the supermarket a lot of broiled eels were sold.

And cicadas started buzzing near my house yesterday. Buzzing of cicadas is rather annoying, but it's a really summer thing. I have long been wondering why cicadas begin singing(?) all of sudden, when schools go on summer vacation.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ikeda Rakugo Town

Today I strolled around the street in Ikeda. Ikeda city is located in the northern part of Osaka Prefecture. It is a small city with an old-fashioned atmosphere. I like to walk through its shopping street to find something interesting.

This is Ikeda Rakugo Museum. Rakugo is a Japanese comic story told by a storyteller sitting on a zabuton cushion in kimono. Inside the museum you can see the real rakugo stage.

I found a tea shop selling "Green Tea." It is SWEET iced Japanese tea. It fits hot and humid summer.

A good-looking pair of wooden clogs called geta. I want to walk in these geta making a nice sound.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Beagle Annie

Annie is my dog. She is an eleven-year-old beagle who likes sleeping.

Early this year she was in serious condition and I was worried that she would die. I took her to the vet many times but Annie didn't take any medicine at all. At last I gave up giving the medince.

What happened next... I don't know why, but fortunately she got better and better and finally she recovered! Probably she recovered by herself.

She stays in her blue "cool bed" almost all day. But when I eat something good, she soon comes next to me. She knows tasty food well enough.

Now she is waiting to eat a chick-shaped bun with a bean-jam filling.

I love Annie.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Nadeshiko Japan

Big surprise! Great victory!
Nadeshiko Japan won the FIFA Women's World Cup.

Their never-give-up spirit was really impressive to me.

Thank you Nadeshiko Japan!!

The term "Yamato Nadeshiko" expresses a rather old image of Japanese women who were elegant, modest and very perseverant.

Nadeshiko, or "pink" in English, is a small flower that blooms in summer. I took this picture at the nearby gardening center.

Cute and really-truly pink.

Tomato Harvest

A big typhoon is coming with heavy rain.
In the heavy rain I harvested tomatoes, kale leaves and shiso green perilla leaves.

I have a friend whose husband grows vegetables in his own field. And luckily I had an opportunity to harvest some of them.

It was a lot of fun to pick fresh vegetables even in a bad weather!

I found a jumping baby frog. Maybe it likes moving in the rain.

I hope to harvest these melons in the near future too!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Wind chime

The sound of wind chime gives me “cooler feelings.” Ceramic, iron, glass or charcoal. The sound is different according to the material. Mine is made of iron.
I’m waiting for the wind to blow so I can hear its sound. But I sometimes make it ring artificially by using an electric fan!

I don’t know the name of this flower. It is a small white flower with sweet fragrance.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Zarusoba is one of the most popular dishes especially in a hot summer. Zarusoba is cold buckwheat noodles dipped in sauce with horse radish, green onion and nori seaweed.

When you eat zarusoba, you can slurp and make a noise. It may seem like a bad behavior but in Japan eating soba with slurping sound is a connoisseur.

Watermelon also fits hot days. Japanese watermelons are round with green and black lines. But I seldom buy a whole watermelon. Why? Because it’s too big for my refrigerator!
And watermelon is often used as a summer symbol.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Wisdom of Living

How to survive the hot summer without air conditioner--- This is an urgent issue for my family after the March 11th Earthquake and its following accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant.

It might be a good time to rethink our consumption-intensive lifestyle.

Recently I bought wisdom of living. Bamboo curtain! I bought seven bamboo curtains. They work much more effectively than I expected. The light through them makes me feel cooler and actually the temperature is 2 or 3 degrees lower than otherwise in my house.

Now I strongly recommend you to hang a bamboo curtain!
Ancient wisdom is great!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Namba Yasaka Shrine Summer Festival

Hot day! Today I went to see a summer festival of a local Shinto shrine named Namba Yasaka Shrine in Osaka city. Japanese festivals are held to entertain Shinto deities to pray for bountiful rice harvest and protection against evil spirits and plagues.

One of the highlights is the procession, which is a parade of people dressed in a happi coat and bamboo hat marching beside portable shrines.

This shrine has a very unique stage shaped like a lion. The lion seems to eat people on the stage.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Peach and watermelon.

Every two weeks I go to Ikoma in Nara Prefecture to meet my friends to encourage myself using English. Ikoma is a peaceful residential town located at the foot of Mt. Ikoma.
Close to the station, I found a nice grocery store full of fesh fruits.

"What fruit do you recommend today?" I asked a sales woman who was wiping sweat with a towel.
"Peach! Watermelon! And grapes!" They all look really juicy and delicious.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hello from Osaka.

Hello friends. I'm a fun-loving English-speaking guide in Japan.

Osaka is about 600km away from the epicenter of the March 11th earthquake and Fukushima. So Kansai area including Osaka and Kyoto is almost the same as before.

I want to write a small seasonal change I found.

Morning glory. This morning I found it on a walk. Morning glory is one of the summer symbols in Japan.