Girls’ Day 2017 Wrap-Up

Hey Folks,

Just wanted to post a few pictures from our Girls’ Day celebration at home.  This is another doll set that Little Guy made in his Japanese preschool:

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Here is the sakura-mochi we had.  Lately, it’s been harder to find it around here, even at Asian-food markets, so we were happy to find this one.  It was delicious as usual.  I enjoy sakura-mochi once a year, but like the Thanksgiving turkey, or Christmas treats, it’s worth the wait.

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My wife also made a nice clam soup.  I can’t recall what kind of clams these are, but usually we get Manilla clams.  The small colored balls are fu, which are dried wheat balls (naturally colored) that expand in water.  The soup itself is made from shira-dashi, which is like a clarified fish broth (dashi).

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Finally the piece-de-resistance: a large plate of chirashi.  Chirashi is basically sushi rice garnished with sashimi and such.  This is mostly maguro tuna, egg, shrimp, and some boiled spinach on the side.  The rice itself is mixed with shiitake mushrooms and such.

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We played lots of karuta games with my daughter.  The particular game we played was a karuta game based on famous Japanese yojijukugo phrases.  Since neither my daughter nor I am that familiar with them, my wife read the cards for us, while we found the right cards to match.  My daughter won most games, though not without some serious competition.  😉

All in all, it was a great Girls’ Day and looking forward to Easter and Children’s Day next.

Happy Girl’s Day 2017

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It’s that time of year again!  March 3rd is “Girl’s Day” or hinamatsuri (ひな祭り) in Japanese.  Time to enjoy excellent sakura-mochi and chirashi, and spend quality time with the kids, especially my daughter “Princess”. My son made this in one of his activity books for the family by drawing in the faces (Mommy obviously did the rest). We are very proud of him.

To all the ladies out there, young and old, happy Girls’ Day!

P.S.  Past Girls’ Day posts for 2015, 2014, among others.

Setsubun 2017 Wrap-Up

February 3rd is a Japanese holiday called Setsubun (節分), which according to the old calendar marks the turning point when winter gives way to Spring (also called “risshun” 立春).

There’s a lot of traditions for Setsubun. One tradition is that people make special sushi rolls called ehōmaki (恵方巻き). The tradition is to eat the whole roll facing a specific direction, which changes yearly according to geomancy, without saying a word. If you successfully do this, you will have good luck. This year (2017) the auspicious direction was NNW. Here’s me stuffing my face in the process:

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Different areas of Japan have different ways of making ehōmaki. For example, people in Miyazaki Prefecture use lettuce with shrimp and mayonaise, while people in Yamagata Prefecture use roasted-chestnut paste.

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My wife made this one with seven ingredients to match the Seven Luck Gods (shichifukujin 七福神):

  1. cucumber
  2. carrot
  3. kanpyō (stewed Calabash Squash)
  4. shiitake mushrooms
  5. egg
  6. unagi eel
  7. takuwan (pickled Daikom radish)

Further, it’s fun to dress up as an orge (oni 鬼) so kids can throw roasted soy beans at you. This is called mamemaki (豆まき). The idea is to drive out bad luck and bring in the good luck.

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The mask I am wearing was made by my daughter when she was 6, so it isn’t very fancy but I liked it so much I use it every year instead of buying one. This year, my son made one too and got in on the act.  It was a daddy-son Oni combination!

Happy (belated) Setsubun to everyone!

Spring Is Almost Here

This is a great haiku poem I read though the 72 Seasons app, which I reviewed previously.

地の底に Chi no soko ni
在るもろもろや Aru moro moro ya
春を待つ Haru wo matsu

“All manner of things beneath the ground wait for spring.”

松本たかし
Matsumoto Takashi,
poem published in 1935

According to the app, Matsumoto Takashi (1906-1956) started life in a family of Noh theater actors but had to give it up due to ill-health. He began composing haiku around the age of 15 and became a magazine publisher and editor by 1946.

Enjoy!

So Long 2016!

As 2016 comes to a close, I want to share a poem from the Kokin Wakashu anthology.

341) 昨日と言ひ kinō to ii
今日とくらして kyō to kurashite
明日香河 asuka gawa
流れて早き nagarete hayaki
月日なりけり tsuki hi narikeri

春道列樹

Which professor Laurel Rodd translates as:

“Yesterday” we say
and “today” we live but still
months and days slip past
as smoothly and swiftly as
Tomorrow River’s waters

–Harumichi no Tsuraki

The poem has a word-play around “asuka” (明日香) which is the name of a river and can mean “is it tomorrow?”

Happy New Year, everyone!

P.S. Posting a bit early to catch readers in East Asia before 2017. ;-p