Melville Matsuri 2015

Posted August 27th, 2015 in Perth WA | No Comments »

Melville_WebA4

 

Finally, a flyer for Melville Matsuri is ready !

Melville Matsuri is a community event for all ages to experience all aspects of Japan.  I’m very happy with how this event is forming – lots of activities !

There will be food & Japanese drink stalls, Japanese grocery stalls, yukata (Japanese casual summer garment) for sale, lots of demonstrations and workshops, and kids activities for all ages.  The best thing is that part of profit goes to local playgroups. 🙂

 

Check out our Facebook pages, and don’t forget to LIKE and SHARE with friends!

 

 


Japanese Festival in Spring

Posted August 4th, 2015 in Perth WA | No Comments »

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It’s August now and we are in the middle of winter in Perth.  It’s cold, but I noticed the day is getting longer compared to few weeks ago.  Spring may be just around the corner.

As spring approaches, I’m getting busy for the preparations for an event which will be held on 24th October in Melville.  I’m in a committee and in charge of kids activities.  This event, recently finalized its name as “Melville Matsuri”, is a festival introducing Japanese culture and background to local people.  It’s a charity event and there will be a lot of activities for all ages at a gold coin donation or even for FREE!

For children, there will be…

  • Yo-Yo (mizu-fusen)
  • Jinbei (Japan’s traditional summer dress) dress-up & photo booth
  • lucky dip
  • Japanese letter drawing on the body (like temporary tattoo using a non-toxic pen)
  • origami
  • uchiwa (Japan’s traditional fan) making

and much more.  There will also be a grand final of paper-plane competition for primary school children in City of Melville during the festival.

For adults, there will be…

  • ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement) demonstration & workshop
  • Japanese tea ceremony demonstration & workshop
  • kimono (Japanese traditional gown) demonstration & workshop

and much more.  Lots of displays & demonstration featuring Japanese culture (bonsai, taiko performance, cosplay etc) too.  And, of course, some yummy Japanese food & drinks!!

The final flyer hasn’t been completed yet, but as soon as it’s done I will post here again.

Melville Matsuri is on Saturday 24th October, 3pm ~ 9pm :
Paper plane competition 4pm – 5pm
Paper Plane film from 7pm – 9pm
All activities, workshop & food stalls 3pm – 6 or 7pm
At … Frederick Baldwin Park, Le Souef Dve, Kardinya WA

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On the same month, there will be another Japanese event in City Beach.  There is Hyogo Cultural Centre in City Beach, and Shichigosan ceremony will be held there on 10th of October.

Their vision is –
“To give these children an opportunity to experience this festival that they miss in Japan. It is the first time the children are officially allowed to wear their traditional clothes (also rite of passage).  The special ages of the children are 7, 5 & 3 years of age. The children are also given special 1000 year old sweets (Chitose-Ame) to ensure a long life.” (- from their 2014 website)  (they haven’t created 2015 version yet)

It’s a great opportunity for families with children aged 3, 5 or 7 who can’t go back to Japan but still want to cerebrate shichigosan.  They can do it here in Perth.  There will be some food stalls as well.  I’m not in committee of this event, but I am planning to sell some food at the stall.  My children are 4 & 1 years old, and we are going back to Japan next year so we will be cerebrating shichigosan then – so I’m not attending this event with my family.

Perth Shichigosan Festival is on Saturday 10th October, possibly 12pm ~ (not sure yet)
At … Hyogo Cultural Centre
20 Kalinda Dve, City Beach WA
(08) 9385 9002

I will update when it’s close to the date!

 


Japanese Pop-culture Workshop

Posted July 30th, 2015 in Perth WA | No Comments »

cosplay2

Love another side of Japan?  If  you like Japanese anime, you may enjoy some cosplay experience.

Personally I like cosplay!  I wouldn’t do too much skin-showing, but I love to dress up in a totally different character.  🙂  That’d be fun!

There was a cosplay show at Japan Festival (I wrote about this festival here and here), so I know there’re some cosplay-lovers in Perth too.  For some people, cosplay may sound wicked, but I bet everyone has dreamed about being someone else once?

cosplay

Kids cosplay is so cute.

On 22nd August 2015, there will be Japanese Pop-culture introduction workshop in City Beach where you can experience the cosplay world and also get some tips about how and what.  There will also be a workshop for Manga drawing as well.  I remember drawing manga when I was a teenager :p  I was so into it and I still like drawing.

 

When:
22nd August 2015,  14:00 – 15:30

Where:
Hyogo Cultural Centre in City Beach

Admission:
$5  (Free tea & coffee, cookies are included)
Free entry for Hyogo members

– Attack on Titan Levi cosplay by Lecturer
– Asian ball joined doll (by Volks Japan) exhibit
– Manga character drawing workshop (please bring your own drawing materials)

For more information or to book, please contact Hyogo Cultural Centre at
hyogoprogram@iinet.net.au

 

 


Hinata Cafe 2015

Posted April 14th, 2015 in Japan, Perth WA | No Comments »

mail

 

There will be another great Japanese event happening in just few weeks!

This Hinata Cafe, 5th time in Perth, will open at the same location as past years – in Bibra Lake.  This is an unique event as the concept of this event is a “temporary open cafe space to exhibit original craft and art, share experience of self expression”.    There will be Japanese artists selling their gorgeous hand-made works,  as well as food & drink stalls and live music by local and Japanese musicians.  If you love going to flea markets, love wondering your Sunday with some live music, or are looking to get some original hand-made items, you’ll love this one!

hinata

I’ve only been to this Hinata Cafe once (they didn’t do last year), and I know there will be this artist Naoko Yamada who paints beautiful arts.  I’m hoping to find a nice painting of her as well as something pretty for my house.

The event will be on;
 (Sunday) 3rd May 2015
10:00 – 16:00
Venue:
Perth Waldorf School
14 Gwilliam Drive, Bibra Lake
What’s on:
Exotic Japanese sweets and lunches
Creative exhibition of arts
Uniquely hand made items for mother’s day gift
Live music with many talented musicians!!
Parking:
Please DO NOT park on the main street as it will block the traffic.
There are lots of parking spaces by the lake.

Hinata Cafe Facebook page

Hinata Cafe blog


What’s your thought?

Posted March 13th, 2015 in Perth WA | 5 Comments »

Yakisoba and Okonomiyaki

 

If you’ve been to Japan in matsuri (festive) season (most likely in summer), you know those stall food that add more excitement and energy to the atmosphere.  Yakisoba, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, kakigori, crape, grilled corn, just to name a few.   Here in Perth, I get to see some stalls that sell Japanese food at festivals (I saw Fumi’s Okonomiyaki & Yakisoba stall at  Chinese NY festival in Northbridge last month) but not so many kinds.

City of Melville is organising a Japanese festival, which is a charity based event, in October this year.  The details are yet to be confirmed, but there will be some stalls selling food and also Japanese goods for children.  I hear taiko performance will be played at the beginning of the festival, and they will show a Japanese movie “paper plane”.

It sounds exciting as I love matsuri!  I know it’s a charity based event and I can’t expect too much, but I hope to see some stalls selling Japanese stall food there.

Here is a question:  What do you want to see at this kind of Japanese festival?  Food? Activity?  I want to hear your thoughts so I can probably pass this to people who are organising this festival in Melville.

Thanks!


Hayao Miyazaki Family Movies

Posted January 3rd, 2015 in Ume's Interests | No Comments »

Ghibli

 

There was a series of Studio Ghibli movies on SBS2 for 5 nights (apparently tonight was the last one!! sigh) – My Neighbour Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Ponyo.  On their website, it shows that the current top movie people have voted as their favorite is Howl’s Moving Castle (32%) followed by Spirited Away (31%), My Neighbour Totoro (22%) and Ponyo & Kiki’s Delivery Service (both 6%).

ponyo

As you know there are many other Ghibli movies including Castle in the Sky, Princess Mononoke, The Cat Returns etc.  What’s your favourite? I’m surprised that Howl’s Moving Castle was voted more than Ponyo and Kiki’s Delivery Service.  It’s, of course, people’s choice, but to me Kiki’s Delivery Service is one of my favourite.  I love My Neighbour Totoro, Princess Mononoke (I went to a cinema to watch that!), and Grave of Fireflies.  My son loves My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away.  I thought Spirited Away is far more difficult for a 3-year-old to understand, but he seems to enjoy the whole story.

Apparently, the top Ghibli movie (which made most profit) is…
Spirited Away!
Followed by…
Howl’s Moving Castle
Princes Mononoke
Ponyo
The Wind Rises
The Secret World of Arrietty (I don’t know this)
Tales from Earthsea
The Cat Returns
Porco Rosso
Pom Poko
From Up on Poppy Hill (I don’t know this)
Kiki’s Delivery Service
Only Yesterday
Whisper of the Heart
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (I don’t know this)
My Neighbours the Yamada
Nausicca of the Valley of the Wind
My Neighbour Totoro
Castle in the Sky
(ref: matome.naver.jp)

Have you watched all of them???

I left Japan in 2003, so most of the movie after that year are not familiar with me.  (Hawl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, The Wind Rises etc)  This ranking is based on the profit.  The newer ones seem to be in the top ranking (because people know Ghibli brand well) .  I’m sure Totoro, Nausicca and Laputa (Castle in the Sky) are some people’s top list!

I missed some Ghibli movies on SBS2…  I would love SBS (or any other channel) to show more Ghibli movies sometime!!


Bringing Japan into our life in Perth

Posted August 9th, 2014 in Ume's Thought | No Comments »

Bagels

Gosh, time flies ….!!!  It’s August already?  It’s been, what, 4 months since I last wrote a post on Umeboss!

Things have been hectic in my life for the last few months – I had another baby boy, restarted my small business Bagelier  (only occasionally), some of my friends decided to move out of Perth so we had several farewell gatherings, and just keeping up everyday with a 3-year-old boy and a newborn is busy enough. :-[

Baby-Hugo

I missed how a newborn baby smells, moves, smiles and wiggles.

I can’t believe my elder son is attending kindy from next year. He currently goes to a Japanese kindy (not a proper kindergarten though), daycare, Japanese book club and Japanese playgroup every week, so I’m sure he’ll be ok going to school 3 days a week, but it’s just that I can’t believe he is grown up to be a school kid soon.

Looking after 2 children is hard work (especially they are boys!) but I’m not quite sure why I started doing the baking business now! I guess it’s part of my personality (my blood) that I can’t just sit around the house – I feel I need to be doing something… I push myself.  It’s a very tiring personality I have!

So, other than baking, most of the time I’m in Japanese environment where people and I speak Japanese only.  I decided to do this way because I wanted my children to be able to speak Japanese in future.  Japanese is my first language and it feels weird if I had to speak English (second language) to my own children. So I made lots of Japanese mum friends and I spend most of weekdays with them, letting kids play together.  Thanks to that, my elder son (3 years old) speaks more Japanese than English.  So my plan is working in spite of the fact that I’m the only Japanese speaker in the house and all my family are overseas.  I know his English will be stronger once he starts to go to local school, but at least he has the base then I believe he won’t forget it.

In oppose to his Japanese, my English is getting worse these days.  Because I spend everyday with my babies I don’t get lots of time talking English now.  I don’t want to be someone who stays in non-English community while in Australia, but I guess I need to stay like this until boys go to school and then I can start spending more time with English-speaking friends and working in English-speaking environment.  Until then…

I sometimes miss myself few years ago when I was speaking only English and forgot how to speak Japanese properly. It was a funny experience – I know all Japanese in my head but words didn’t come out from my mouth.  I was 23, and spent only 2 years in Australia (21 years in Japan) and already forgot how to speak my own language! So I know my kids will lose some Japanese while living in Australia… I’ll just have to keep up talking to them in Japanese as much as I can and it’ll keep our (both me and my kids’) Japanese skill, I hope..


New Trend in Japan.. Wasabi Donburi?

Posted February 25th, 2014 in Food, Japan | 4 Comments »

chicken don

 

When you hear the word “donburi” you’d imagine many kinds of donburi dishes… oyako-donburi, ten-don (tempura-donburi), una-don (unagi-donburi), katsu-don (katsu donburi), kaisen-donburi etc etc.  There are many types of donburi dishes in Japan and I can’t count how many…

Donburi is one of the quick and easy dish you can have at restaurants or home – and has been one of the most popular lunch menu for office workers to grab during the short lunch break.

My favourite is oyako-donburi!! …but I also like ten-don, una-don….  hmmm writing this makes me really really hungry!!

Now, in Japan, there is a new kind of donburi dish called “wasabi donburi”.   It sounds like something you’d have to eat as a penalty of the game :p  But it appears to  be delicious!

As the name indicates, the key item is wasabi.  Wasabi donburi actually is a very simple dish – just a bowl of steamed rice, katsuo-bushi (bonito flakes), wasabi and soy sauce.

fresh wasabi

 

Sounds weird??  If you love wasabi you must try this!!

You will need fresh block of wasabi for this dish.

Imagine this…

Freshly steamed rice in a bowl.

Sprinkle katsuo-bushi.

Freshly grate wasabi and place on top of rice.

Pour the best quality soy sauce..

wasabi donburi

And eat as you mix the wasabi into rice…

Hmmmm it does sound yummy to me!!

🙂


Hot Japan Festival in Forrest Chase

Posted February 23rd, 2014 in Perth WA | No Comments »

Japan Festival 2014

Were you there??  There was a Japan Festival held in Forrest Chase in Perth from 2pm until 7pm yesterday.  It was a HOT day, especially that I’m 24weeks pregnant and also had a huge headache from the cold I’d caught few days ago I honestly didn’t want to get out of air-conditioned room in my house.  But I pushed myself to head to the city just because I wanted to eat okonomiyaki (saucy savoury pancake) and kaki-gori (snow cone).

photo 2-2 copy

 

As I expected, there were so many people at the event.  When we arrived there was a cosplay competition going on on the stage.

There’re huge queues around the stalls.  Because the water fountain was on, people had to queue around the water area and I couldn’t see where the okonomiyaki stall was at first.  We walked around, and first my son played super-ball tsuri ($2).   You scoop floating super balls from water using a catcher made with thin paper.  Once the paper is broken you are out.  You could get maximum 5 balls and when my son caught 5 balls he broke the paper using his fingers :p  Anyway he got 5 balls!

We decided to queue to get some food.  It was so hot so we wanted to get kaki-gori first.  Huge queue…  The stall was also selling snack bags for kids and cold drinks.  We got kids snack pack, ramune (Japanese carbonated drink for kids typically seen in summer festival in Japan) and kaki-gori.  My husband didn’t want to queue so he went to grab hot dog which had no queue in front of the stall.  Okonomiyaki and takoyaki stalls had the longest queues :p

We noticed that Japanese consulate was giving away plates of yakisoba for free, so I queued there.  In the end I didn’t get to eat okonomiyaki 🙁

photo 3-1

 

Around 5pm it started to cool down a little.  Kids were crazy playing in the water area.  I wanted to listen to live music but decided to head home around 5:30pm.

 

 

photo 5-1

 

It was a fun event and I was amazed to see how many Japanese people (and people who like Japanese culture) are in Perth.  I thank all the volunteers who helped this event, and the people who contributed towards the Fukushima charity.


Sleeping Baby Art

Posted December 13th, 2012 in Ume's Interests | 4 Comments »

My mum told me this is what Japanese people are into these days – Sleeping Baby Art.

Sleeping Baby Art is something you do to make it look like a sleeping baby doing something /0r being something.

I’ve seen photos like that at some Facebook pages here too, but some mums in Japan are crazy about this thing.  But, since my mum told me about it, I kind of wanted to do it too.

Here is my first work 🙂

HOHOHO!!!

Does it look like a Santa Claus carrying a bag-full of toys near a chimney?  ^^

And then….

Have a wonderful holiday season to everyone!!

xxx

 

 


Obento for Picnic

Posted September 10th, 2012 in Food, Japan, Perth WA | No Comments »

We are definitely in middle of spring now.  It’s been pretty warm for the last few days – though forecast says it’ll rain again soon.  Time for lots of insects…  (yay…)

Spring makes me feel happy, sleepy, and want to do laundry everyday.  It also makes me want to go out for picnic with Hiro who always wants to get out of the house and play outdoor.

Lunch I made for Hiro the other day….  It’s not only for Hiro, by the way.  He is a big eater but I don’t think his stomach can hold this much food. :p  I made them to share with my friends.

This is one of the things I like about Perth.  In Japan…  well, in my hometown, you can hardly find park or nice place to sit down with kids and have lunch together.  There’re always cars, buildings, and people passing by.  There is park near my kindergarden, but it’s not big and the ground is covered with seaweed for some reason!!  How come?  Is it not seaweed?  Or the area used to be under water or something?  Very weird….  So I don’t want to take my kid there to play. He might try to eat it  🙁

My parents used to take me and my brother to many places for picnic when I was a child.  Near Biwako Lake, some themed parks, and some public park.  You have to drive there and is not really close to my house.  So I definitely think Perth is very family-friendly and great environment for kids.

Mixed sandwiches and omu-rice.  It’s so easy to prepare if you have the ingredients.

For Omu-rice you’ll needs:

  • 2 cups of steamed rice (preferably left-over from last night)
  •  2 tbs of frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 tbs tuna, canned, drained
  • 1 tbs unsalted tomato sauce
  • bit of oyster sauce and soy sauce

Stir-fry everything!

Then, make large thin omelet.  Place on the tomato fried-rice.  Draw smily face with tomato sauce!

 


Tako Su

Posted August 18th, 2012 in Food, Japan | No Comments »

Obon has finished….!  Obon is one of holiday season in Japan where people go back to their hometown and pray for ancestors.  During Obon you are not supposed to kill any living creature (including a fly) because it may be your ancestor visiting you in a form of the creature.  I feel so bad now because I forgot about Obon and killed a small spider 2 days ago.  It’s hard to remember these things while living in Perth.  😐

Above photo is marinated octopus, cucumber and wakame seaweed in vinegar sauce.  I call it tako-to-kyuri-to-wakame-no-sunomono, but I think you can just call it tako-su.  It’s typical summer salad (or should I say side dish) in Japan.

It is hard to find octopus legs in Perth, but in Japan we eat it very often.  If you go to kaiten sushi bar you’ll see octopus sushi, which is a nigiri sushi with a slice of cooked octopus leg.  Octopus leg is always available at supermarket too.   It is usually sold cooked though.  I don’t get to see raw octopus legs much over there unless I go to a fish market.

I think octopus legs are kind of gross food here?  That’s why I can’t buy it from any grocery shops?  Most Asian grocery shops don’t sell it too.  I usually buy it from seafood shops.

<Tako Su>

  • Octopus Leg (cooked) 100g
  • Cucumber 1
  • Wakame seaweed (dry) 1 tbs
  • White Wine Vinegar 2 tbs
  • Sugar 1 tbs
  • Soy Sauce 1 tsp
  • Ginger 1 slice

 

  1. Soak wakame in water until soften, and drain well.
  2. Slice cucumber thinly. (or thick if you prefer crunchy texture)  Slice cooked octopus leg.  Slice ginger into long matchsticks.
  3. Mix vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and ginger.
  4. Marinate octopus, cucumber and wakame in the dressing in the fridge for 1 hour or more before serving.

 


Japan Eclipse 2012

Posted June 4th, 2012 in Japan, Ume's Interests | No Comments »

This may be a little old story to write about, but I just saw some photos of eclipse which was visible in Japan on May 21, and found that it interesting to actually see all the variety of sunglasses they were sold at stores.  Yes, the photo of eclipse is the most amazing thing, but so are the sunglasses/googles.

  

Eclipse sunglasses and googles were at the shops everywhere and millions of people rushed into the stores to grab one for themselves.  By the 21st, lots of shops sold out them and come people still tried to look at the eclipses with naked eyes (which was not recommended and people rushed into eye clinics afterwards).

I heard the story from my mum and friends, but I didn’t know there’re so many kinds of sunglasses and googles out there.  From character things to funny looking ones….  I just have to agree because it’s Japan!

 

 

(photos: google/rakuten.co.jp)


Japan – Channel 9 & Character Nippon

Posted April 7th, 2012 in Japan, Perth WA | No Comments »

There will be a 30minutes of TV program showing about Japan’s earthquake on channel 9 (Perth WA) –

08 April 2012, 5:00PM on Channel 9 (Perth WA)

<Nippon – a country of unique characters>

In recent years, interest in Japanese subculture, particularly in anime and manga, has dramatically grown all over the world. What exactly are “characters”? Why do characters appear and become popular? What kind of social reality do they reflect? Focusing on the theme “Characters and the Japanese,” this exhibition will showcase, through visual images and panels, characters commonly known to Japanese people that have triggered fads. The purpose of this exhibition is to introduce the world of characters in a broader sense and examine their impact on Japanese society.

©Tezuka Productions/Mushi Production | ©Fujio Productions | ©Tsuburaya Productions | ©FUJIKO STUDIO | ©HIKARI PRO.

Character Nippon

Date:
17 April 2012 (Tuesday) ~ 03 May 2012 (Thursday)

Weekdays:
10:00AM – 4:45PM
Saturdays:
2:00PM – 4:45PM
Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays

Where:
Gallery Central (12 Aberdeen Street, Northbridge)

Free Entrance!!!

Enquiry: 08 9480 1800


It’s been a year…

Posted March 11th, 2012 in Japan | No Comments »

1 year ago today, the big earthquake and tsunami hit to-hoku Japan.  It’s been a year….  I still can’t believe it somehow.  I remember watching the news on tv in Perth while holding a newborn Hiro in my arms.

There are still many people who are missing.  Many people have lost everything and still live in temporary houses.  It’s still cold and some area are snowing right now.  (yes, it’s already March but it’s still snowing!  This winter is very different)

As one year passed, people are trying to move forward from the nightmare.  The bus left on top of the building had been removed recently.  Some people said the bus should be kept there to remind us how huge the tsunami was, but some people couldn’t just bare looking at it as it reminded them of their missing families and friends.

Since the earthquake and tsunami, there have been many people who have been suffering from many things.  The radiation is the biggest issue.  Many of Japanese foods, buildings, water… everything was contaminated around that area.  It’s sad that now you cannot enjoy Japanese food 100%.  People doubt if the food is ok.  It’s sad because I was very proud of Japanese food before.  I thought Japanese food is the most delicious, safest food – now not anymore.

Even Japanese people who live in Perth don’t want to buy products from Japan.  One of my friend here is thinking to start up the service where she supply Made-in Australia/New Zealand baby foods to Japan, because many of mums in Japan are worried to give Japanese products to their babies.

One positive news about Japan is that since the earthquake people started to be more supportive to each other and have stronger fellow-feeling.   I’ve seen this word “kizuna” (bond) everywhere while I was in Japan.  “Ganbare Nippon”  “Makeruna Nippon”.

….

I’m with Twitter and hear many scary things related to the radiation, everyday. That makes me not want to go to near To-hoku for at least next few years. (I still want to go back to my house though…).  That is sad that I hesitate to go back to my home country which I love so much.

I greatly feel sorry for the people – especially the ones with children who were exposed to the radiation.  It’s nightmare….  I can’t imagine how sad, confused, and heartbroken they must feel when hearing that their children may develop thyroid cancer in future.


Super Cold Climate Hits Japan!

Posted February 3rd, 2012 in Japan | No Comments »

Japan has been attacked by super cold climate, and it’s been snowing hard in the area around Japanese Ocean since few days ago. Here in Shiga also gets lots of snow, and yesterday the snow level went over 1 metre. Very cold. No, I don’t feel “cold”actually,  it’s rather “pain” that I feel. :p

Many people have been suffering in this snow as they have to dig out their car from the snow and pass-way from the house to the car-way. They wake up around 4am just to dig out the snow before going to work.
Yesterday, kindergarten, elementally school, and junior high school in my area were closed because of the snow.  Today the schools started 2 hours later than usual.

There are many accidents occurred due to the snow across Japan, and it’s been the top news on tv these day. Not only northern area of Japan but also Kagoshima (Kyushu island near Okinawa) was snowing yesterday too!!!   Many people must be fed up with these heavy snow already but actually I still like it. Although I’m stuck at home whole day and can’t go out anywhere, I still like watching it, digging it, and playing with it.  It must be because I was born in a snowing day. (my birthday is coming up, I just realized :p) I feel happy that I can enjoy the view of this beautiful white world before going back to Perth.

Change of subject, today is 3rd of February, and it’s Setsubun in Japan. As I wrote about Setsubun “here“, we eat a whole sushi roll while looking toward this year’s good-luck direction (this year is north-north-west).  The sushi roll shouldn’t be cut, so you have to hold it and bite it as if you are eating a burger.

We ordered a sushi platter from a sushi place near the house, and also few Eho-maki rolls from Seven Eleven convenience store. As well as normal Eho-maki (which contains lucky 7 ingredient inside) I ordered “Fruits-maki” (strawberry, kiwi & banana with whipped cream and sponge cake). It looks just like sushi roll but it a rolled cake covered with dusted cocoa powder which resembles to nori sheet. I thought it’s funny and also a great dessert on Setsubun 🙂

I also bought a pack of soy beans for the Setsubun ceremony – throwing the beams while saying “fuku-wa-uchi” “oni-wa-soto”. I don’t know if we’ll do that inside the house as my little monkey may pick up the beans from the ground and eat it.  Then we eat the soybeans according to our age.  If you are 15 years old you get to eat 15 beans.  Packed soy beans sold in stores are cooked and edible.

Japan has many interesting traditions and events through out a year. I want to continue doing these thing after going back to Australia 🙂


Tanita Shokudo

Posted January 13th, 2012 in Japan | No Comments »

Tanita is the world leader in precision electronic scales. With almost 50% of its domestic market share, the name of Tanita is now a household word in Japan.  By using Tanita’s BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis) technology, our body composition monitors can measure #your: weight, body fat percentage, body water percentage, muscle mass, physique rating, basal metabolic rate (BMR), daily caloric intake (DCI), metabolic age, bone mass, and visceral fat.  … Amazing!

On 11th January this year, just 2 days ago, Tanita opened a cafeteria called Tanita Shokudo in Marunouchi, Tokyo.  A scale company and food?  It seems odd at first, but there’s a big relation between them – health.

There is a cafeteria inside Tanita company in Japan, and the food there had became famous for being healthy.  Many workers there said they lost weight because of the food they eat at the company everyday.  Because of that, Tanita has published two cooking books showing the recipes of the food they cook at the cafeteria.  Now, they opened a cafeteria in public so that anyone can enjoy Tanita’s food.

Their concepts for the food are “healthy – low calorie)”, “nutritious”, and “wa-shoku (Japanese cuisine)”.

There is a counseling room at the entrance with a big scale (of course Tanita brand) where customers can check their weight etc and get advice from Tanita’s nutritionist for free.

All the food there looks so tempting to me!  I love healthy food.  And I love Japanese food!

I saw Tanita’s recipe books in a section of “popular books” at a book store the other day.  Looks interesting too!

Rakuten Books Tanita Shokudo 1 Rakuten Books Tanita Shokudo 2

Amazon Amazon


Koala-no-March Hotel Room

Posted November 28th, 2011 in Ume's Interests | 2 Comments »

Lotte Koala-no-March, chocolate snack in Japan, is one of my favorite.  I’ve seen Chinese and Korean version of this snack in Perth, so I don’t know if it’s originally Japanese though.  Inside, each chocolate-filled snack has different face of koala – one is smiling, one is crying, and one is angry.  Some of them are wearing sunglasses, and some of them wear kimono.

If you like this snack like me, you’ll probably want to stay in a hotel room filled with this cute koala character.  Yes, there are in Japan!  Koala-no-March theme hotel rooms.

This Koala-no-March themed hotel room has koalas everywhere – on the wall, bed cover, curtain, pajamas, and amenities.  Not only children but also adults will be exited to stay in this room, I think 😀

This Lotte City Hotel Kinshi-cho (Sumida-ku, Tokyo) has beautiful views of Tokyo Tower, Sky Tree, and also JR trains from some rooms.  And, there is a chocolate factory cafe on the ground floor where customers can enjoy chocolate making.  Curry, pizza and hamburgers contain chocolate at this cafe.

There is a chance of winning a night at this Koala-no-March hotel room.  Simply go to campaign site and answer the question, and submit the answer to the address shown on the website.


Snail Soaps

Posted October 22nd, 2011 in Ume's Interests | 2 Comments »

If you are a regular Umeboss reader, you may probably know how much I’m afraid of snails….  They are the reason why I can’t go out for a walk in winter.  My house gets a LOT of snails during winter.  Everywhere.  Even on the wall, in the mail box, and on top of my strawberry seedlings.

That’s why I freaked out when I knew that soaps made with snail extracts are getting popular in Japan.  I mean, extract from snails.  I do not want to rub that on my body….

There are many beauty products across the world which are made with extracts, shells, and bodies/organs of living creatures.  But, this one really shocked me.  I know French people eat snails, and maybe it’s not a big deal that people use snails to moisturize their bodies, but I can’t even imagine about it in my head (><)

And, it’s not only one company selling this snail soaps.  There are many.

Does it really work?  … I don’t care.  Even if it works like a magic, I don’t think I’d ever want to use it on my body…


Kindergarden…. for Doggies

Posted October 17th, 2011 in Ume's Interests | No Comments »

When I knew about dog kindergardens in Japan, at first I thought it’s silly but then I realized it does make sense.  Nowadays people around the world love having companion animals and treat them like real family.  Just like leaving your loving baby in kindergarden, you leave your loving pets in this school in the morning and pick them up after work.

The kindergarden is from the morning, starting with brushing and weighing the doggies.  There are play time, learning time, and nap time through a day, and they go home after the relaxing time with aroma therapy. The schedule varies depending on the kindergarden, but usually the facility is very good and there are plenty of rooms for dogs to run around.  Some places teach owners how to train their dogs too 🙂

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3 Months in Japan

Posted October 5th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

Many of my friends have left Perth for a 2-week-holiday as school holiday has started. Some of them will not go back to Japan because they still worry about radiation.   Yet they all say “I envy you…” when I told them that I will be watching New Year’s tv show in Japan while snuggled in kotatsu and eating mandarin (mikan).  Kotatsu, mikan, cat and snow… it is a typical scene of Japan’s winter.

Friends ask me how long we will be away, and I answer “3 months. But D only stay for 2 months”  Then they all say “ONLY 2 months?”   … To think about it, 2 months is a pretty long period.  D will be able to speak Japanese maybe!  Then I realize, Hiro and I will be there for 3 months and 3 months is even longer than 2 months.  What are we going to do in Japan for 3 months?!

We do shopping, yes, and going out to eat, yes.  But we can’t do that everyday for 3 months.  3 months is long.  Hiro will look different after we come back here. What will we do?

… Well, it will snow from around Christmas in my hometown, so we will probably stay at home most of the time.  Daytime is short in winter in Japan, as the sun rises around 7am and sets around 4~5pm.  I can imagine myself being in kotatsu most of the time 😀  We will play with snow, go grocery shopping at nearby shops, watch DVD, and eat a lot of food everyday.  I go catch up with friends, let my grandparents play with Hiro, and take lots of photos.

I think this will do.  3 months may be not too long after all…  I hope D and I don’t forget English!

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Kaba-Kore

Posted September 17th, 2011 in Ume's Interests | No Comments »

Kaba-kore (cover-colle), a short word for “cover collection”, is an order service from SoftBank in Japan to make customized cases for smart phones.  You can chose the design from three categories: from Oto-san Dog gallery, from design templates, or by uploading the images.

I like the idea of being able to use your own photo or image to create a case. No one else would have the same case!  The image will be printed to the sides of the case, and it looks great.

Oh, I just love the SoftBank’s character,  Oto-san Dog!!  So cute…. (one of my favorite character.  Post is here)  You can create novelty goods using this service as well.  Hmmm maybe I should make one for my iPhone!

There are also many collaboration designs available, including Pokemon, CanCam (a Japanese fashion magazine), and Hawks.  I also loves the Rock design of SoftBank tv CM family.   Oto-san Dog is so cute!


Japanese Automatic Toilet

Posted September 16th, 2011 in Japan, Ume's Interests | 3 Comments »

I wrote about automatic bidet toilet seats earlier, but here again I just want to re-write about it.

Apparently there are several automatic bidet toilet seats available in Australia.  Most of them fit standard-sized Australian toilet and just need to be simply replaced with the existing one.  You will need power point in the toilet to use electronic toilet seat though.

Automatic bidet toilet in the bathroom is a very common thing you can find in Japan.  72% of Japanese households have one of these (REF), and almost all of them are TOTO brand.  TOTO has many advanced features rarely seen outside of Asia, and it designs the world’s most sophisticated bathroom products, elevating the bathroom from the merely functional to a total relaxing experience. I find it little funny that the oldest type of toilet (squat toilet) is still somewhat common in public places and some households in Japan, as well as these advanced electronic toilets.  Some public toilet (female) have three kinds of toilet : squat (hole on the ground), non-bidet, and bidet. It’s just because some elderlies still prefer squat style.  Most of the squat toilets are automatic though.  It flashes automatically when you leave the toilet.

Had been living in such environment, it is natural for Japanese people to long for one of these automatic toilet seat to have in the house outside Japan too. I know several Japanese families in Perth installed TOTO toilet seats in their houses, and they look so great….  I always wished I had one at home too.  TOTO brand is very expensive (I think it’s around few thousands dollars) compared to other brands, but is the best according to all the reviews and product information.  But, not everyone can afford few thousands on a toilet seat.  I think the cheaper ones are ok and still do the job –

With these demands from Japanese custoemers, Zakka Box in Mount Lawley started selling electronic bidet toilet seats at shop.  They are Korean brand, and are much cheaper than TOTO’s.  When I visited the shop, the owner told me that she actually installed TOTO toilet seat few years ago and it’s been amazing all the guests who visited her house. Having an electronic bidet toilet seat is one of Japanese people’s dream who live here (of course other people dream about it too), but TOTO brand is too expensive to buy.  Now she sells these Korean bidet toilet seats, and they have became popular item, she said.

Here are the brief functions of the two bidet seats she sells at shop:

1)

  • instantaneous heating for 24 hours
  • one pocket two nozzles
  • self-cleaning nozzle
  • bubble cleaning – air pump motor
  • turbo – for reglar motions
  • automatic drier (adjustable temperature)
  • occupied seat sensor
  • warm air drying
  • adjustable warmness on seat
  • kids lock

2)

all above functions, plus

  • stainless nozzle
  • deodorisation with aromatic
  • ultraviolet sterilising illumination
  • etiquette tunes
  • luxurious remote control

    You know, actually you can look it up on eBay to find it cheaper, to tell the truth.  But, buying from an actual shop and the shop you know may be better  – in case it breaks or got problems, you can always ask for help.

    By the way, I found this very funny…

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    Okuizome

    Posted September 13th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

    Okuizome, literally meaning ‘first eating’, is a traditional Japanese ceremony in hopes that children would never worry about food in future.  It’s held either on the 100th, 110th, or 120th day after the birth.  Of course the baby can’t eat anything yet, so baby  just “pretend” to eat.

    For this ceremony, traditionally we prepare fish, beans, boiled vegetables, soup and rice (white and red mochi (sticky rice ball) or red sticky rice (sekihan)).  Stone  is also prepared to wish a baby to have strong teeth.

    I didn’t do it for Hiro just because I thought it’d be hard to prepare such a feast without being in Japan.  But, after receiving this photo from my friend and hearing the story, I kind of regret that I didn’t do it for Hiro.  I’m not really a traditional person but would like to keep some Japanese tradition.

    I remember my friend (who lives in Japan now) did this okuizome ceremony in Perth few years ago, and I now admire her for doing it.  I think it’s important to keep such traditions, old manners and customs alive.

    Since we are in Australia and can’t follow all Japanese traditional ceremonies for Hiro, I’d like to take him to shrine for omiyamairi when we go to Japan in November.  People usually visit a shrine for Omiyamairi 31 days after a baby boy is born (32 days for girls), but I think it’ll be still ok to pray for his or her health and happiness. 🙂

    Talking about omiyamairi, he is also going to get baptized in church sometime soon, I think. I’m not catholic and don’t know much about catholic ceremonies, but I hear babies are usually baptized soon after birth. Hiro is already 6 months now :p
    Well, he is lucky experiencing two kinds of ceremonies. We don’t know if he choses to be catholic, Buddhist or something else when he grows up, but it is all up to him and we respect his decision 🙂 It’s good to have many options open.



    Shopping Baby Stuff Online

    Posted September 6th, 2011 in Japan | 2 Comments »

    I’ve started buying things from Japanese online shops that we may need while we are in Japan.  Most of them are baby stuff; baby carrier, baby record goods, etc.  Some of them are cheaper buying in Japan, and I can find more variety of goods there.  For example, I bought this baby carrier called “Clmin”.

    Baby can “wear” it as if s/he wear a pair of pants, and it’s easy for mum to wear too.  The supportive & durable material is used for comfort for both mum and baby.  I found it on sale at ¥1980 (about $20 AUD) and bought it straight away.  All the reviews are good.

    And, I was going to rent a small baby stroller so that we could put Hiro down when we go outside for a walk or shopping. The cheapest rental price I could find was ¥800 per month plus a shipping fee of ¥2000.  Then, I found this stroller for ¥2990 from an online store.  It’s light, easy to maneuver, and is exactly what we were looking for.  We’ll be in Japan for 3 months and it will be cheaper than renting one, so I bought this too.

    When my in-law told me I should buy Grobags from Bambinipront (coz they were doing sale) I instead found this First Year Sonogram Frame. You can display photos of 3 milestones in baby’s first year, and I thought it’s so cute.  I have my favorite ultrasound photo of Hiro and I thought it would be nice to display it on this frame. It’s around $27 at Bambinipront.  I searched this item online in case somewhere else sells it cheaper.  Then I found one Japanese online shop selling this for ¥1050.  I’m very happy I bought this!

    Oh, by the way I was surprised to know that you can get a “talking” potty in Japan!  It talks “good job!” “well done!” in this an-pan-man (Japan’s popular kids’ character) voice.  Very cute!  Then, D said “well, I’m not surprised.  Japanese toilets are high-tech!”. Even for babies !?:p


    Sparkling Drink

    Posted August 21st, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

    Many people would probably long for soda drink when they are thirsty.  Coke, pepsi, Mountain Due, Fanta… there are so many kinds in the market.  But, did you know there’re more unique sparkling drinks sold in Japan?

    Coffee, tea, chocolate, fruit juice….  you can find them in sparkling version in Japan.  I wonder how they taste like….  I’m sure some of them are not great.  For example, when I’m thirsty I wouldn’t want to drink sweet chocolate.  I would definitely go for a can of coke or soda water.

    Kirin, one of the largest beverage company in Japan, started selling this sparkling green tea in their Nama-Cha range few months ago.  This sparkling green tea is lightly fragranced with yuzu juice.  As being a green-tea-lover, I wouldn’t mind drinking this!  It’s not sweet like chocolate.  Well, it’s green tea, so it should be healthier than other soda drinks, right?

    Oh, in Japan, ocha (green tea / Japanese tea) is not sweet.  There is nothing added – just tea leaf and hot water.  I really hate sweet tea….  I don’t mean those English tea like earl grey, I mean some sweet Asian tea like Jasmine Green Tea….  Pokka used to sell (or, maybe they are still selling) genmaicha, oolong tea and mint green tea with SUGAR here in Perth.  They are too sweet.  It’s not tea to me!

    So, if you think Japanese people drink those sweet tea like Jasmine green tea everyday, you are wrong….  We drink unsweetened tea daily.  Personally I can’t drink sweet beverage with rice and miso soup.

    I remember D told me the other day that there’re supermarkets in America selling only soda drinks.  Then I told him “well, I’m not surprised.  If you go to Japan you will see lots and lots of kinds of tea sold there.”.  Even at a convenience store, you will find many kinds of tera drinks, both cold and hot.

    I’m sure it’s not only in Japan.  South Korea, Taiwan, and other countries may be the same.  In fact, there are so many kinds of Chinese tea in Japan and they are very popular.

    Ummm  I sometimes miss the convenience of living in Japan.  When you are thirsty just look for a vending machine or convenience store, and grab a bottle of dink with one coin.

    a


    Rice

    Posted August 20th, 2011 in Food, Japan | 8 Comments »

    Rice is something I need to eat at least 6 times a week.  It’s just because I’m Japanese and rice is the source of everyday power… My grand parents and parents used to tell me “if you don’t eat rice, you have no energy to do anything.”  Because I was raised with rice (2~3 times a day for 365 days), my body really became like that – I get no energy if I don’t eat rice for 2 days.

    The typical breakfast at my house was rice and miso soup.  When I woke up, rice was always in a rice cooker – freshly cooked each morning.  Although my dad enjoys eating toast and coffee in the morning at cafe these days, he used to only eat rice while I was a teenager and that’s why my mum cooked this “Japanese style breakfast” everyday.  Leftover from last night’s dinner was usual side dishes, plus some pickles and seasoned nori (seaweed) or furikake (rice seasoning).

    I was surprised to know how expensive rice was in Perth since I came here.  I mean, short grain rice.  I’d never paid money for rice as my family own rice fields and grow rice by ourselves – so rice was always in our kitchen.  Lots of them.  Here, I need to “buy” rice from stores and I felt it’s bit strange at first.

    I had never eaten long grain rice while I was in Japan, but I like it pretty much now.  I like the little dryness of long grain rice when eating with something soupy such as curry.  They are cheaper than short grain rice (or Sushi rice) too.  But, when making sushi, onigiri or zosui, I need short grain (or medium grain) rice.  The stickiness is very important when making those Japanese food.

    Some of the short grain or medium grain rice sold here are from USA, Taiwan, Korean and elsewhere.  As long as the rice was grown in water like Japanese rice, they taste pretty alike.  In some countries, rice is grown in soil and it tastes different.

    Rice imported from Japan is always expensive, but the price of rice (short/medium) from USA and other countries had suddenly increased few years ago because of drought.  Now, the price had dropped little bit, but I still feel they are expensive…  I found Korean rice is cheaper and is very good quality.  Japanese rice, such as Akitakomachi, Akitaotome, and Koshihikari, are very expensive – even in Japan.  They are like brand. Omi-mai is the rice my family grows, and they are very good too.  Oooo I just miss eating it.  I think my dad should consider exporting his rice to Australia.

    When buying rice here, you should be careful that some rice is more than few years old….  Rice should be eaten within one year after harvest.  At my house, we replace old rice with new rice after harvest season each year.  New rice (shin-mai) tastes so juicy and fresh.  You need less water to cook as they are so soft and fresh.  When preparing some rice sold here, if you think they are pretty old, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before cooking (or add more water when cooking) so they become softer.

    Ummmm  I feel like having wafu breakfast for a change.  I need to be away from peanut butter toast!

    a


    Donuts!

    Posted August 18th, 2011 in Food, Japan | No Comments »

    Donuts are definitely one of my tea-time favourite.  I was just browsing some Japanese donuts websites and they all look so yummy…. !

    I love going to MisterDonut because they have many shops across Japan, even near my house, but there are other donut shops in Japan includes franchised and private-owned.  Here are some of them.

    DoughnutPlant is one of popular franchise shops originally from New York.  They don’t only sell bakery donuts and sweet donuts but also bagels and donut cookies.

    Their products don’t contain eggs.  Their sweet donuts (cake donuts) contain kanten (agar), and it tastes like fluffy sponge cake.

    ********

    Canezees Doughnut are hand-made and fried in rice oil.  Their donuts don’t contain eggs, and use dark sugar instead of white.

    They have unique flavours such as Black Sesame Kinako (soy powder) and Yuzu Lemon.  They re-use the oil which has been used to fry donuts as fuel on their van!

    ********

    Zen Donut are baked, not fried. Zen donut uses Japanese products in their donuts, and the flavours are very unique.  Soy Milk Sesame, Ho-ji-cha Tea, Bamboo Charcoal, and Warabi-mochi are some examples.

    They also sell karinto, one of my favourite Japanese snacks!

    ********

    Floresta sells donuts made from only natural ingredients, called ‘nature doughnuts’.  The owner started selling donuts from a stall inside shopping malls in Nara prefecture, but now they have 30 shops across Japan, from Hokkaido to Kyushu.

    They sell seasonal donut desserts as well.  Now, during summer, they are selling donut and ice cream sundae.  Sounds yummmm…

    ********

    Hara Donuts use soy milk and tofu extract (okara) in their donuts.  Their hand-made fresh donuts are naturally delicious and so healthy!

    Again, their flavours are unique – spinach, carrot, sweet potato, kiwi, passionfruit, lemon tea, sakura , etc.  They use fresh fruits and vegetables in their products.  By that, you can know what they are trying to tell you – the simple, natural ingredients are the best.

    They also sell donut ice cream.  Bitter chocolate, purple sweet potato, and pumpkin etc etc…  You won’t  get bored with these unique flavours.

    ********

    Miel Donut is another shop selling baked donuts, not fried.  Although they only have 8 flavours, all of them look delicious~! Baked Sweet Potato and Rum Raisin sound good. 🙂

    As their donuts are baked, the texture is soft – just like butter cake.  The best way to enjoy a baked donut is to lightly warm it up in an oven toaster.  This way, you can create the contrast of fluffy interior and crispy outside.

    a


    Japan Now

    Posted August 11th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

    Time flies… It’s already mid-August, and winter is almost over according to the calendar. I feel that we had a lot of rain this winter – just like it’s supposed to be.

    In Japan it’s the end of summer according to the calendar, but people are struggling in the hot heat. It recorded the highest temperature of the year yesterday, and many people are getting sick from sunstroke. In Japan it sometimes stays hot until Sep to Oct. I remember hating the practice of Autumn carnival at the school around Sep because it was so hot. I could feel the sky was getting high (sign of Autumn) but the air was still hot.  Drinking cold barley tea on the break was HEAVEN.

    Today, it’s been just 5 months since Japan’s huge earthquake.  5 months already…  People seem to be still struggling over there, although things are getting better.  As it’s almost Obon (a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the deceased spirits of one’s ancestors), many people will be visiting cemeteries to pray and offer foods to their ancestors.  We believe that spirits come back to our world on this day – so we don’t kill any insects during Obon season.  Even a spider – because it could be our ancestor’s spirit.  It is a time to honor, welcome, and free ancestral spirits.

    During Obon it is one of the short holiday period, like Golden Week in May, and people go back to their homes (just like Christmas) and spend time together with families.  There are usually big jam on freeways and rains stations and airports are packed with people.  My dad says his work’s been very busy and it will continue like this until Obon holiday.  I hope he can relax during the holiday 🙂

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    Fast Food and Slow Food

    Posted July 23rd, 2011 in Ume's Interests | No Comments »

    “Fast food or slow food?”  When I ask this question, most people give me definite answer. Some people just love getting fast foods while others  enjoy the quality of slow foods.

    Me, I’m actually bit of both. Because of being blood type AB and star sign Pisces (post – by the way, thanks to people who left comments on this post and are the same blood type and star sign as me or similar), I have many likes and dislikes, and they don’t always stay the same. One day I get craving for a cheese burger and French fries, and run to one of the fast food chain and enjoy the junk food. Next day, I feel like appreciating the nature and eco-friendly food, and enjoy the whole process of cooking and dining.

    When you imagine fast food, the first thing that pops into your head is probably burgers or fried chickens.  In Japan, there are also other types of fast food, such as gyu-don (beef donburi), onigiri (rice balls), and udon noodles.

    One of the images of fast foods is being unhealthy, but yes, I admit it. I love burgers too.  McDonald’s, Mos Burger, Lotteria, Burger King…  These burger chains in Japan sells wafu menu (Japanese-style menu) along with standard burgers and side menu, and they are irresistible …  Teriyaki burger, katsu burger, rice burger…  they all taste so good.

    And, the good side of fast food is that they are usually cheap, and often offer discount coupons.  Go to Mcdonalds, Lotteria and Mister Donut websites.  You can easily download the coupons and use them straight away.

    But, after awhile I start to miss those foods that are made with care and from fresh ingredients.  Often they are Japanese food (wa-shoku).

    Cooking brown rice and enjoying it with simple side dishes and miso soup.  Making dashi stock and cooking dashi-maki tamago with it. Whole process of cooking is enjoyable, and I can appreciate the food.

    I don’t know which one I like better.  I can’t chose!  But, both fast food and slow food give me vitality, happiness, and the power that I can start a day with smile!

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