Posts Tagged ‘winter’

Seven Grass Porridge

2013年 1月 7日

Today is the Seventh of January which is the traditional day to eat nanakusagayu (七種粥・七草粥). Seven Spring greens are gathered and cooked into a rice porridge. Traditionally these greens are:

  1. seri (芹・セリ) – Japanese parsley, dropwort
  2. nazuna (薺・ナズナ) – Shepherd’s purse
  3. gogyo (御形・五形・ゴギョウ), also called hahakogusa (ハハコグサ)
  4. hakobera (繁縷・ハコベラ) or hakobe (ハコベ) – Chickweed
  5. hotokenoza (仏の座・ホトケノザ) – from the Chrysanthemum family
  6. suzuna (菘・スズナ) – Turnip greens
  7. suzushiro (蘿蔔・清白・スズシロ) – Japanese radish greens

As I wrote last year, the flavor is very grassy and not so popular with children. I think this is one tradition that is slowly vanishing. Even my wife, who had to maintain these traditions for the children under her care, has forgotten it this year.

Perhaps we really need to find ourselves a plot of land to grow things. Had I been preparing these in the garden and talking about them, surely it would be on her mind.


Rumors not Exaggerated

2011年 12月 22日

Just like Jon Bon Jovi, I am alive and well. Unlike him, nobody has rumored my death (that I am aware of), regardless of my failure to post much. Recently some ongoing troubles have been destroying my motivation and, for the combination punch, I have been extremely busy. Fortunately this means lots of fun bits to write about; however, it leaves me unable to post.

Winter Solstice occurs tonight and, as usual, I will participate in one of the cutest Japanese traditions I have learned. Eating kabocha (カボチャ・南瓜) – a kind of squash – and soaking in yuzuyu (柚子湯) – a hot bath with fresh citron in it, is said to guarantee one good health during the winter. Perhaps the cutest aspect of this tradition is when a foreigner asks why these items have some special connection to disease prevention, the response is often that they are yellow.

Often in Japanese there is some homophonic meaning behind traditions like this, so one might expect yellow to have another meaning… but it does not. Also, in my Bart Simpson like mind, this always begs the question, “Can I eat something else yellow instead?” This is met with uncomfortable consternation, like so many of my jokes.

Regardless of the ambiguous origin of this tradition, I enjoy getting some tasty and healthy squash in my belly and I really enjoy fresh fruit fragrance while soaking in my 42 degree tub.


2010年 1月 25日

Japanese homes are traditionally designed to allow prevailing wind to pass through in the summer for natural cooling. As a consequence, these homes are extremely cold in the winter. Japan’s growth to the number two economy in the world has taken place in the last 50 years, predominantly from the 70s on; couple that with a reluctance to abandon tradition, and you’ll understand why there are still a number of chilly houses.

HantenHanten (袢纏・半纏) are garments precipitated from this condition. They are designed similar to haori (羽織) which are often worn over kimono, but they are filled with batting for insulation. Many hanten are made from cotton, but the two pictured here are made from retired kimono (着物), so they are nice silk. Core temperature protection has long been considered important in Japan and, in that vein, these are long enough to reach mid-thigh.

Commonly, hanten may have floppy, puffy sleeves which are very comfy; however, you’ll note these are sleeveless. When doing chores, particularly kitchen work, the sleeves become a liability. These are made for active members of the household. Nobody wants to drag a sleeve through an open flame or across a bloody cutting board.

Sunday Soundcheck 41

2009年 3月 15日

On to the ‘H’ column of the Japanese sound table, the first sound is ha, written in hiragana as は and katakana as ハ. We’ll take three trips through this column because there are two accents which can be applied here.

Haroowaaku (ハローワーク) is taken from the English words ‘Hello Work’, and is Japan’s version of an employment bureau. Apparently when I left my position with the school board to start my own school, I could have drawn unemployment. I kind of wish I’d looked into that even though I don’t want to be ‘on the dole’, but I ended out retroactively paying a lot of taxes and such, that I wouldn’t have been obligated for, had I filed there. There is a Japanese name for the offices, shokugyouanteijo (職業安定所), but that’s probably used more on paperwork than in conversation.

Hanten (はんてん・半纏・袢纏) is a piece of clothing for the wintertime. It is typically a slightly more than waist-length garment, similar to a haori (はおり・羽織), but with packed cotton between the layers. I believe it is considered fairly casual and should just be worn around the house. My girlfriend has one made from silk which is sleeveless, making it ideal for wearing in a cold kitchen; the normal sleeves would constantly be getting in the food during preparation.

I Hate Putting On Clothes

2009年 2月 11日

During the Winter, I hate putting on clothes. Yes, I wrote that to shock people. That is not to say that I like walking around nude after the equinox. After all, that would be very chilly. I guess that is just the point, it’s not the wearing of clothes, it’s putting them on.

Often I find myself lounging around in fleece pants and a long sleeve shirt, possibly with my knees tucked under the kotatsu (炬燵). Feeling very comfy, I don’t look forward to going out, because I have to take off my clothes to put on street clothes. Feeling the frigid fabric against my skin is a shock to my system.

One of the drawbacks of the traditional Japanese home is a lack of insulation and I find myself rarely willing to run the heat if it’s just going out the walls. Perhaps I will try warming my clothes under the kotatsu before changing.