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Saturday, December 28, 2013

10 Japanese Foods You Can Make at Home Anywhere / Dispelling the Myths About Japan and Japanese

Days 2101 - 2107
Thursday, December 19 - Wednesday, December 25, 2013  

Day 2101 ( Radical Change for English Education in Japan )
Thursday, December 19, 2013

Stayed in all day and started playing God of War Ascension.


Education ministry proposes radical English education reform

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has announced plans to reform the English education curriculum at junior high schools across Japan from the 2020 school year. The main change will be that all English-language classes will be conducted entirely in English.

Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura told reporters at a news conference that “the goal is to enable students to learn communication skills vital to everyday life at an earlier age by speaking with native speakers of English, a skill I believe to be in great demand for this current generation,” TBS reported.

Under the new plan, from April 1, 2020, third-year elementary school students will begin taking English courses as a foreign-language activity. English will become a formal subject from fifth grade (it is currently designated as a foreign-language activity) three times a week.

The ministry plans to hire more foreign teachers and utilize the Test in Practical English Proficiency (Eiken) to certify Japanese teachers of English, TBS reported.

Shimoura said he hopes the current generation of junior high students will develop their English capability to the point that by the time they are seniors, they will be able to make presentations in near native-level English, as well as partake in challenging debates with their fellow students.




Day 2102 ( 10 Japanese Foods You Can Make at Home Anywhere )
Friday, December 20, 2013 ( 5 Years 9 Months )

Today was the last day at my main school before the winter holidays. I did 3 classes and I was very tired afterwards. Later on I went to Yokohama to meet up with 2 of my female friends. We had a long chat full of laughs.

One of my friends there in the pic, did a painting of me. She is an amazing artist.


10 Japanese foods you can make at home worldwide

Even though Japanese cuisine has more or less infiltrated most of the major cities worldwide, domestic foodstuffs and condiments still remain mostly inaccessible and rare in most countries. Japanese blogger Madame Riri shares a list of 10 Japanese foods that can be made at home, no matter where that may be. We’d like to call it the lifesaver list for Japanese abroad, or the inspiration list for non-Japanese who would love an authentic taste of Japan in their own kitchen.

1. Pseudo Chinese Noodles

In Japan, “yakisoba” or Chinese noodles can be readily bought at supermarkets for as low as 30 yen per serving. These versatile noodles are a common sight on the dining tables of Japanese families, be it stir-fried, in soup, or even as “hiyashi chuka” (chilled Chinese noodles), disputably the most popular Chinese dish among the Japanese. But in many Western countries, the Asian noodles tend to be pricey and sometimes hard to find. But here’s a neat trick that turns the number one “noodle” in the West – spaghetti – into pseudo Chinese noodles in your very own kitchen.

Simply throw in some sodium bicarbonate, otherwise known as baking soda, together with some salt when boiling the pasta. And that’s all there is to it. The sodium bicarbonate works its magic on the pasta, giving it a texture and taste that is uncannily similar to Chinese noodles. Madame Riri also suggests experimenting with pasta of different thickness to suit the dish; spaghetti for champon and cappellini (angel hair pasta) for ramen.

2. Homemade Natto

“Natto,” fermented soybeans, is a traditional Japanese food known for its slimy texture and characteristic smell, which earned it the nickname of “stinky beans” among many non-Japanese people. If you’re able to stand the stink though, this Japanese acquired taste is a healthy source of protein and vitamins, and is said to prevent cancer, lower your chances of heart attacks and enhance health in general. While “natto” is commonly found in Japan at economical prices, exported batches available overseas are often expensive and less flavorful, having had its strong smell and taste mellowed down to adapt to foreign consumer tastes.

Ultimately, “natto” is made from soybeans, which are way more accessible than the fermented food itself in most countries. All you have to do is soak the beans in water for half a day or longer, boil or steam the beans for a couple of hours so that they’re thoroughly cooked and soft, then put them in a container for fermentation. Keeping the beans at a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius is the key to ensure quality fermentation, which can be a challenge to maintain, but if you have a yogurt maker at home, it will make the process as simple as pouring the cooked beans in and switching the machine on. Soaking and boiling the beans may be slightly time-consuming, but having made homemade “natto” is definitely an awesome addition to your Facebook profile if you ask me.

3. Sesame Dressing

The all-time favorite Japanese style dressing within and outside of Japan. Its delicate balance of sweet, sour and savory flavors, slightly milky texture, and the appetizing fragrance of sesame seeds works wonders to invigorate appetites, and is most commonly used on salads, cold tofu, or as a dipping sauce for cold shabu-shabu.

You might not be able to find it at your local supermarket, and even if you do, it probably costs twice or three times the price it is in Japan. The good news is, as sophisticated as it sounds, you can actually mix up your own sesame dressing with just a couple of simple ingredients. All you need is roasted sesame seeds, mayonnaise and rice vinegar (best to use Japanese variations for these two to achieve authentic flavor), and a pinch of sugar and salt if you prefer. Mix around until you get the right consistency and taste you like, and voila! You’re ready to wow your friends with a Japanese style dish.

4. Homemade Tofu

Tofu (bean curd) is recognized as a healthy ingredient pretty much all over the world. The soybean product is stunningly cheap in most Asian countries, but can be slightly pricey over in the West. Apparently it costs about 400 yen in Paris, more than four times its price in Japan. Why pay the hefty price tag when you can make your bean curd out of soy milk?

Apart from soy milk, you will need some “nigari” (magnesium chloride) to help the soy milk coagulate into a solid form. Be sure to use food grade magnesium chloride flakes or liquid for this. Detailed instructions can be found on this wonderful recipe.

5. Shiozake

Unlike smoked salmon, “shiozake” (salted salmon) can rarely be found in supermarkets outside of Japan. But fresh salmon cuts are commonly sold in supermarkets, especially in the West. Simply by sprinkling salt (amounts of 2% the weight of the filet seems to be the perfect ratio) over the fresh salmon and letting it sit in the refrigerator for two days, you’ll have deliciously flavored salted salmon ready for cooking.

Preparing the “shiozake” is as simple as pan-frying it, or putting it on the grill for a couple of minutes. Enjoy it whole and fresh from the pan, cut up as fillings for a sandwich or sushi, or break it down into flakes as a topping for salads or onigiri (Japanese rice balls).

6. Dried Mackerel

Similar to salted salmon, dried mackerel is another popular Japanese food that is rarely available outside of Japan, but can be easily made with simple ingredients at home. In this variation, you’ll need fresh horse mackerel, some salt, and skewers. Carefully remove the scales of the fish, then slice the fish open from its back, remove its innards, then clean and pat it dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle some salt on both sides. Put a skewer through the fish horizontally to keep it flat and open as it dries, and hang it up, leaving it to air dry for a day in a well-ventilated place (just like hanging out your laundry). Pan-fry or grill it and you’ll have an authentic Japanese home-cooked dish.

7. Umeshu

“Umeshu” (plum wine) is a type of Japanese alcohol that can be easily made at home. Although “umeshu” can be bought at supermarkets or convenience stores in Japan, many families enjoy the process of concocting their own variation at home when plums are in season, usually from June through July.

Even if you reside overseas and have no access to Japanese liquor, you can easily make your own “umeshu” out of fresh plums, vodka and rock sugar. Wash and dry the plums (you could also use apricots as an alternative if you can’t get “ume” plums), layer the plums and rock sugar proportionally in a large jar or plastic container, then pour in the vodka. Make sure the container is sealed air-tight. Let it soak for at least three months before enjoying your homemade “umeshu.” Patience is the key. The alcohol-soaked fruits can also be eaten. Have it with your glass of “umeshu,” or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of honey as a classy dessert.

8. Handmade Udon

Udon, the thick, chewy Japanese noodles popular among Japanese and foreigners alike, takes a good kneading to achieve its characteristic texture, but requires nothing more than medium ground wheat flour, water and some salt to make. Traditional methods involve stepping on the dough in order to make it nice and chewy. If you have children brimming with unspent energy, or would love some interesting interaction at a home party, here’s the recipe for this marvelous kitchen activity!

9. Warabi-mochi

If you’re a fan of traditional Japanese sweets, you must be familiar with “mochi.” It can be challenging to make since it involves strenuous pounding of glutinous rice flour, but “warabi-mochi,” on the other hand, can easily be made by heating potato starch, sugar and water over a stove. It’s so easy to make.

10. Homemade Miso

Of course, the all-mighty seasoning that represents Japanese cuisine, miso. Anybody who loves Japanese food knows about miso soup. But did you know that the Japanese use miso in a multitude of ways? Miso is used in stews, stir-fry and even grilled dishes. It’s barely even exaggerating to say that the Japanese can’t live without it. But like many of the items listed above, miso is difficult to get, or expensive, in many countries apart from Japan. You’ll need “koji” (fermented rice) in order to make your own miso, and it takes quite a bit of time and effort, but if you’re a Japanese person living overseas with limited access to miso, this could be the best way out.



Day 2103 ( Part-time Job Luncheon / Japanese Girl Attacked Boy Who Rejected Her )
Saturday, December 21, 2013

Went to this uptown area of Yokohama name Motomachi today. My business English side job had a luncheon for us at an expensive restaurant name Papa Davide. I think it's French? or Spanish maybe? The food was ok.. and luckily I didn't have to pay :) The company took care of everything.

After the luncheon I went to a home store not far away to buy one of those Japanese style ground, folding chairs known as zaisu. Like this :


Girl rejected by boy she never actually met takes revenge

After having her advances spurned, a female junior high school student decided to get back at the young man she had hoped to form a friendship with. Assembling a violent mob of 20 girls, she went out for payback – and the worst part is, she and the boy had never actually met in person.

The incident began as the two were using LINE, a smartphone application that allows users to exchange messages with friends and make free data calls. The app has become a very popular form of communication in Japan and South Korea especially, where users can quickly and easily add acquaintances.

In September this year, a 14-year-old female student in Tokyo sent a contact request to a male student via the application, but it was quickly rejected by boy, who is a year older. With her pride dented, the girl was determined to make the boy pay for his sins, even though he had no reason to accept the friend request to begin with. The female student gathered a group of about 20 girls to help her seek revenge.

The LINE-using boy was hanging out in a local park with 12 other male classmates when the angry female mob surrounded them. Within moments, things turned violent.

The girls are accused of punching and kicking the boys in their faces and stomachs, with one male student suffering a broken nose and five others coming away with various minor injuries. Six of the rambunctious females were eventually arrested by the local police.

But don’t forget the other shocking element in all of this: the girl responsible for gathering the mob stated that she had indeed requested to become friends with the male student via LINE, however, she had never actually met him in person.



Day 2104 ( Dispelling the Myths About Japan and Japanese )
Sunday, December 22, 2013

Stayed in all day blogging and playing video games.


(1) Japan is NOT China - This is especially for my friends in the west... particularly Jamaicans who keep saying "di Chiney people dem (The Chinese people)" ... The countries are very different and the people behave verrrry differently. Yes they look alike and some of the architecture in both countries resemble each other but trust me, you can usually tell them a part by their mannerism.

(2) NOT all Japanese can draw or are good at math - I teach and have taught quite a few Japanese kids, and believe me, you would be embarrassed at some of their math capabilities. And even though most of them that I came across are really good at drawing, believe me that even me with my terrible drawing is better than some of them.

(3) Ching chung chang is NOT Japanese - Somewhat related to 1 above, this stupidness has nothing to do with Japanese. You are just amusing yourself and possibly the people around you who know nothing or very little about Japan. But that ching chang thing does sound close to what I hear the Chinese speak.

(4) Japan is NOT the only country with 4 clear seasons -  This one is for the Japanese people that somehow believe that Japan is the only country in the world with a clear Spring, Summer, Autumn (fall) and Winter. No you are wrong. Several states in America has 4 clear seasons, and so does China and South Korea etc etc etc.

Hint - This is not Japan

(5) Japan is NOT totally safe - Hands down, Japan is one of the safest countries on earth. That doesn't mean that it is totally safe!! Strange guys will go on stabbing rampages,
or let out nerve gas in train stations http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matsumoto_incident and females may occasionally you know get fondled on trains or stalked or get their panties stolen etc etc.

(6) Geishas are NOT very popular - You won't randomly see a geisha walking down the road anywhere in Japan. Unless there is some sort of show or if you go to Gion in Kyoto.

If you do see one, they are expensive!!!!

(7) Japanese women are NOT as submissive as you may think - Ha, this is one of the biggest misconceptions out there about Japanese women. They are generally kind and thoughtful ... but after a while you will see another part of them that wants to manipulate you and/or control your life. This normally manifests itself verrrry slowly.

(8) Japan is NOT as advanced technologically as you may think - ok ok there is a lot of technology here. But take a walk into the country side or better yet in a public school !! you would be shocked to know how backward stuff are there. It is almost as if you literally went back in time 50 years ago.

Why is there no heating system except that thing???



Day 2105 ( Nuskin )
Monday, December 23, 2013

So 2 weeks ago, I met a Spanish lady on the train while coming from my business English job. She said she wanted to meet me again to speak about some sort of job opportunity. So we met today along with a Brazilian guy who traveled all the way from Nagoya (about 4 hrs away by car) to come and speak to me about a business plan....

They are basically trying to convince me to sell skin products. And not only should I sell, I should try to convince others to sell it as well. The more people I convince to sell, and the more people they convince, the more money I would make. Neither am I good at, nor am I interested in this kinda stuff. But I listened to him speak for about 1 hour then left to go to a Japanese family's Christmas party that I was invited to. The products they were trying to get me to sell is called nuskin. They specialize in anti aging stuff.


Yeah so later on I went to the family dinner thing. I went there last year as well. Good food, wine and it was really nice experiencing this with a great Japanese family. I am happy they invited me.



Day 2106 ( Weird People / Tokyo Mayor Resigns )
Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Ok so at one of my jobs, "this person" has always been speaking to me about random stuff. I mean anything. Long and short, I made a mistake by doing "something" that I was unaware if...And instead of "this person" coming to me and telling me about it, or at least give me some advice..... This person went straight to one of my bosses!!! The situation wasn't extremely serious luckily... But I can still never understand people who do things like this!!! Why not warn me or say something to me? Why go to my boss??? Is it easier to get me in trouble than to just speak to me about a simple mistake? Oh jeez Japan Japan.

Anyway, again at one of my jobs!! for the first time, I saw a worker shout at another. Causing a slight uproar and everyone was looking on. I stared on for a bit because it was very close to me, then I just disappeared to do what I needed to do. Sorry can't go into too much details here.... For reasons relating to the paragraph above !!! Hint hint...


This is late news for those who are interested in Japanese politics but anyway....

Inose resigns as Tokyo governor over loan scandal

Embattled Tokyo Gov Naoki Inose on Thursday submitted his resignation over a loan scandal linked to his election campaign.

Inose, who was elected head of one of the world’s biggest cities a year ago Wednesday, said he had handed his letter of resignation to the head of the assembly.

“I have decided to resign from the post of Tokyo governor,” Inose told a hurriedly arranged press conference.

“I intended to fulfil my duty of explaining to the city assembly, people of Tokyo and people of the nation, but regrettably I could not clear doubts over me. It’s solely because of my lack of virtue.”

Inose also said he could not let the scandal impede preparations for the Olympics in 2020.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday that Japan remained committed to offering the best Olympic Games in 2020 and that the resignation of Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose would not affect that.
Inose resigned after being caught up in a financial scandal just three months after he helped his city win a bid to host the 2020 Olympic.
Abe, who worked with Inose to win the bid for 2020, said his resignation should have no impact on the games.




Day 2107 ( Merry Christmas 2013 )
Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Whether you celebrate it or not, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Kwanza call it what you may... Just have a good time ok? Alright.

I never really had a good time per se. I had WORK! For the first time in my entire life, I had to work on Christmas day. My sister is used to this because she worked in the airline industry for 10 years. I taught some elementary school kids at the YMCA then had my private student at starbucks in the evening. He was in California then in South Korea for some seminars and university visits. I always wished that I had a job where I had the opportunity to travel to different countries for work. I wonder if it will happen in 2014... Well it's a nice thought...

This will be my final blog for 2013 so Happy New Year when it comes to all my readers.......


Stewy said...

You stole my picture without permission! I shall sue u! Lol

You should've added okonomiyake to that list... Its fairly easy to make as well.

Happy new year when it comes sir

davay colly said...

Yes I liked it so I stole it Muhuhuhuhaahaahaa. Happy New Year bredrin