Archive for April, 2011

Time for Carp!

Beyween early April and around May fifth ( BOy’s Festival)
You will see carp fish flying in the spring breeze all over Japan!

In the Jyozankei Hot Spring Area, Sapporo, they display hundreds of carp streamers across the river which runs through the town.

Getting closer…

May 5th is the Children’s Day national holiday.
Families with a son/sons display a set of carp streamers in their yard and wish for the healthy growth of them.
The largest black carp representing father, red carp for mother, and the smaller ones for children.
Sometimes, the number of smaller ones tell the number of kids in the family.

Carp are known to swim up the whitewater rapids and in the Chinese regend they are said to turn into dragons as they do so.
Carp thus symbolize strength and successful career in life.
In the hope of their sons being strong and uccessful like carp, parents put up carp streamers.

But recently, as people build their houses close to each other, there are not space to hoist the streamers.
Instead, they are displyed in public places.
Today, when I visited Jyozankei, there were family groups strolling the town looking up to the streamers.


Spring Ephemerals

These are early spring flowers blooming queitly in the wood.

Dogtooth violet

in its full bloom

The entire plant, the flower, leaves, stem, and root are edible.
It was an essential food for the indegenous Ainu people.
They made starch from the plant’s root.

Ezoengosaku or Corydailia Ambigua

These feminine, delicate and fragile looking plants appear only for a few weeks and completely dissapear until the next spring.

When you lost your pet dog,

When you lost your pet dog, what would you do?

My friend sent me a box of crackers.- shrimp tasted.
On each cracker, a picture of her late pet dog ” Koma”‘ is printed.
At first I didn’t know what to do with these crackers.
Should I eat? Is it OK to eat the picture of her loved one?
This is an unusual gift in Japan.

Koma was a happy pagu.
She was almost 17 years old when she died.

My friend and her husband have no kids so they had treated Koma as their only child.
When they moved to the United States a few years ago, on the airplane, Koma was put in a cage and kept in a cargo area.
And then had been held in a quarantine house for two weeks before she was released.
because of the stress, she lost her hair and suffered from PTSD.
And the parents spoilt her.
It was during the stay in the US that Koma became addicted to ice cream!

She was a business minded dog and had her own business card and her name tag.
Koma studied in a University correspondence course and got 3 credits in marketing.
Her mother “helped” her with assignments and tests.

She died one week after the Tohoku Tusnami 2011.

To mourn the death of her beloved dogwith my friend, the only thing I could do is to enjoy the Koma crackers.
And remember Koma.

Japanese Boxed Lunch 

This is a restaurant style Japanese boxed lunch at a restaurant.

My friends and I went to a fancy restaurant for lunch today.
It was about 20 dollars.

It came with

sashimi, slices of fresh raw fish
grilled fish and some garnishes
crab salad with Japanese herbs
fried soy bean curd
cooked octopus with daikon radish and shimeji mushroom
a few different kinds of fish patet

The lunch also included with 3 pieces of sushi, a bowl of clear soup, coffee, desert.

It was a cold and rainy day outside but we surely felt spring when we at tiny cherry blossoms cut out from cooked edible liliy bulbs!

Snow in April 2011

In Hokkaido we have lots of snow in winter.

Sapporo, a big city with almost 2 million people, will be covered with snow for 3-4 months from December to March.

But we don’t usually have this much of snow in the middile of April.
I took this photo when we made a coffee stop at Sunagawa PA on the way to Rumoi, April 17,2011.
Sunagawa is located about 90 minutes drive north from Sapporo.

The expressway between Horonuka and Fukagwa was closed all day because of the snow!

And at Bibaushi Pass, where snow apparently accumulated as much as 30 centimeter!, I saw 2 traffic accidents involving three cars respectively!
Instantly I recognized one of the damaged cars.
It was the very rude big overspeeding SUV that overtook me 10 minutes before.
I was lucky not being involved.
Some people may have changed into summer tires…I was scared and wanted to abandon my car on the spot.
As if to show my inner thoughts, my car was running at the dangerously slow speed of 20 km/ph….

I stepped on it and kept going, praying “Please no more snow in April.”

Sashimi – Party Style

Look at this plateful of sashimi.
They are thinly sliced assorted fresh raw fish and shellfish.

Foreigners sometimes think sushi and sashimi are the same.

But, when we have a slice of fresh raw fish on top of a piece of vinegared rice, we call it sushi.
Slices of fresh raw fish without vinegared rice are called sashimi.

At a party this evening, we ordered a huge plate of assorted sashimi.

There were squid, shrimp, tsubu shellfish, scallop, salmon, tuna, and etc.
My favorites?

They are parsery, fresh daikon radish cut into thin and long strings, and wakame sea weed.
I am a low-maintenace person?

The Sun Rises in Tokachi

After the quake, we have been in a sort of a very long dark night.
No sign of dawn yet.

But the Sun rises.
The Sun rises in TOkachi, HOkkaido.

This Youtube is made by Mr. Urashima Hisashi,
a well known book writer, photographor, language school operator and English lecturer.
I want to share the serenity and the peacefullness of his work with you all.