-･- From My Everyday Life to Japanese Culture -･- Why don't you see the real Japan, not the typical foreigners' version.
I was planning to have brunch while I was in Azabu-juban (麻布十番) shopping street today and went to a bakery café named “Eat more Greens” for the first time.
According to their HP, the café’s concept is “a 'vegetable and vegan bakery cafe' like the ones in Down Town, NY. “
I sometime stopped at the place when it was a donuts & bagels café, but I hadn’t visited the café because I’ve eaten a lot of vegetables without their telling me so. I'm joking. I'm not going to like “fashionable vegetarianism or macrobiotics” and restaurants that adopt these ideas as one's slogan. I don’t mean to reject someone’s belief, but personally I just don’t want to follow that kind of fashion. I also stereotype that vegetarian and macrobiotic restaurants don't have good food at least in Japan.
Let's get back on the track.
Azabu-juban is a place where there are a lot of cafés and restaurants, but there aren’t so many those that serve breakfast and brunch except chain eateries.
The café opens from 9:00 on weekend, so I tried their brunch.
Well, be careful. They have only two little brunch meals: homemade jam & toast set and today's natural soup & homemade bread set (includes organic coffee or organic ceylon tea). I have no way of telling whether the café is nice or not because I didn’t eat decent food.
Unfortunately, the soup and organic coffee didn’t make me reverse my stereotype and wasn’t enough for brunch, and then I went to a brasserie, “asile Jaune” that is on the top floor of a 9-story building.
A confit de poulet was good for the price, a little strong though.
I think it would be nice if I visit the brasserie at night.
I feel bit better!
I went on a day trip to a nearby hot spring resort overlooking the sea today.
After I had nice long bath at a hot spring in, I picked up my cell-phone with a can of beer in one hand and found that I got e-mail messages and missed calls from my friends.
They took my complaints seriously and worried about me.
I'm sorry. My last post made some of you nervous.
I’m so stressed out, but I’m OK.
Since English isn’t my first language, I can’t express little nuances through sentences.
I’m going to try avoiding ambiguous statements in my post from now on, especially about my mental condition (^-^).
I’m more concerned about my mental condition than that of Mao….
I’ve been under a lot of stress these days and feel that I can no longer put up with a certain situation that I've managed somehow with an effort. Well, I don’t tell you specifically the situation because it’s not a pleasant subject.
I’m going to go somewhere I can relax and cheer myself up before I endup getting mad at people who make the situation.
I'm off! See you later!
It’s the final day of the event, the first of the 2010-2011 Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series.
The light in my mind is Daisuke’s smile, and the shadow is Mao’s gloomy face.
After the short program, Daisuke Takahashi is in first place.
He performed “Latin Mix (Historia de un Amor, El Manbo)“ with vigor and enthusiasm. He danced like crazy! Though we don’t know if he will keep the lead after the long program (I hope he will), I’m quite sure we can feel at ease and enjoy his performance this season, too.
He didn’t have a burnout after he won the bronze medal in Vancouver and the gold medal in the World Championships. It seems he found new enjoyment in skating. He is expanding his self-expression and pursuing the world of Daisuke. What an ideal state.
The other gold medallist of the World, Mao Asada, is likely to fall into serious trouble. I’m not talking about her skating or jumps. I'm very worried about her mental condition.
I just watched her on TV, but she seemed not to be of sound mind.
Her face remained impassive during the six minute warm up before the short program the day before yesterday. She didn’t even make eye contact with her coach. I think she lacked the emotional capacity to smile or talk with someone. She was slightly better at the yesterday’s warm up, but after the performance, she had expressionless eyes in the kiss and cry zone. I’ve never seen her like that before.
She is a perfectionist who likes practicing, which is one of typical premorbid personalities for some mental problems.
I feel anxious about her.
Dear people visiting my blog by searching "Mao Asada”,
When I write about figure skating, many people in the world visit my minor blog. Especially, there are a number of Mao fans. Of course I'm one of people watching over her.
The NHK Trophy, the staging of the 2010-2011 Grand Prix of Figure Skating, is going to be held in Nagoya from Nov. 22 to 24.
Personally, I'm looking forward to watching male single skaters: Daisuke Takahashi, Kevin Van Der Perren, Adrian Schultheiss and Jeremy Abbott. I’m also very interested in Japanese young skaters: Takahito Mura and other two skaters, Kanako Murakami and Yuzuru Hanyu, which are last season's female and male junior world champions respectively and going to debut in the senior competition.
About our Mao, I'm afraid that her performance would end up with a disappointing result, though not to the extent of the Japan Open. You see, only three weeks went after that. I’d say the NHK Trophy will be an opportunity to monitor the progress of her and her coach’s “re-formation project.” The correcting all jumps would take a long time.
What gives me gloom is NOT her performance BUT foolish people and both domestic and international media (some are even baleful) which will say, without a doubt, “she’s in a slump” or “she’s no longer a top skater” after the event.
Though I refrain from detailing, I find it really obscene that such a diligent athlete exploited by money mongers and people with ulterior motives.
Anyway, the 2010-2011 Grand Prix Series is going to open tomorrow.
I take off my hat to all skaters who are willing to strive to cultivate one's skill.
The new rice sent to us from my uncle in Niigata Prefecture (新潟県) is Koshihikari produced in Uonuma area (魚沼産コシヒカリ), a popular rice brand.
My grandfather’s home village is situated in the mountains of Uonuma area. Though relatives live in the center of town now, the uncle still keeps fields in the village and cultivates rice on the side.
We look forward to the newly harvested rice. It tastes best because it is sweeter and contains more water.
His son, my cousin said that the rice got the first grade again this year (there is a three-level rating system). This year Koshihikari in Uonuma has a much lower rate of the first grade rice than that of usual years because temperatures were unusually high all day this summer. A certain level of difference in the temperature between day and night is important to growing good rice. It's a lucky part of the fields in the mountains.
Does that look delicious?
Yes, it is!
The picture below shows ears of rice grown in buckets in my neighborhood.
Rice harvest season comes in Tokyo, too!
I think sparrows have already picked up grains of rice.
This is ouendan (応援団, a cheering squad) of my alma mater.
In Japan, many traditional schools that boast college sports have organized ouendan, made up solely of students, consisting of three branches.
(1)Leader (リーダー部): Male cheerleaders wearing highly stylized black uniforms based on gaku-ran, Japanese school uniforms
(2)Cheerleader (チアリーダー部): American style female cheerleaders
(3) Brass band (ブラス部)
Unlike those in the U.S., headliners of squad are Leaders. Lovely cheerleaders are important, but nothing will start without those boys. Leaders perform a special kind of dances along with fight songs in front of students in the stands.
My old school is active in sports, and the cheering scene, like that in the pictures, is common at sporting events.
Among others, the students are looking forward to a baseball game against a rival college, pack into a ballpark, and are pumped up for cheering with the ouendan.
In past days, I was one of students who sang the fight song with their arms around each other in the ballpark.
This vegetable stall is placed in the entrance of the farmhouse. Other than this vending machine, there are baskets of vegetables and a coin box at all times. People put money in the box when one buys them according to one's conscience because there isn’t a clerk.
It’s a common sight in the countryside, but this one is in Tokyo's 23 wards (on the line between the center of Tokyo and the suburb, though).
My aunt lives in this town along a private railroad, and I've visited her several times a year since I was a kid. In the old days, vegetable fields surrounded the station. I walked through the fields and wooded area to reach her house.
The town drastically changed in these 20 years. However, the place around the farmhouse still retains the good old days.
It says, “Please buy my Grandpa's vegetables.”
The farm family is a large landowner that manages many apartments and car parks, and the grandparent of the family still engages in farming. The stall is popular among people living in the neighborhood. When I took the pictures, several people stopped by it.
Though I didn’t pick up one at that time, I was mulling over buying the raw peanuts.
Raw peanuts boiled in salt water go well with beer!
I called on my aunt after this, and to my delight, she served these rare peanuts produced in Tokyo.
She is a regular customer of the stall.
That was good!
I'm embarrassed to say this, but there were errors in the last post but one, “Minimum Requirement for Nobel Laureates.”
The populations of UK, Germany and France should be one digit larger than those in the table. (The Nobel laureates per 1million people were correct.)
I noticed those errors by Hayden’s comment about the populations….
I corrected the table in the post.
I'm awfully sorry about that.
I encountered a parade of Yabusame (流鏑馬, traditional Japanese horseback archery) yesterday.
In this style of mounted archery, an archer wearing a historical costume attempts to hit the tree wooden targets from a horse galloping along the course. It’s believed that Yabusame was initiated at the beginning of the Kamakura period (about 1185) by Minamoto no Yoritomo (源頼朝), the founder of the Kamakura Shogunate.
This parade was hosted by Anahachiman-guu (穴八幡宮, a Shinto shrine in Shinjuku Ward). They marched from the shrine to a nearby park, and the archers performed Yabusame as a Shinto ritual in the park.
I didn’t have time to watch the performance. What a pity!
Yabusame of Anahachiman-guu takes place on National Sports Day (the second Monday of October) every year, so I want to see it next time.
I’m told it’s exciting and dynamic.
Let me first congratulate Dr. Negishi and Dr. Suzuki who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2010.
In celebration of this happy occasion, I’d like to write about the first step, in which a researches come to be evaluated globally.
The table below shows top four countries that throw up many Nobelists (and Japan), the number of winners in the field of natural sciences since 1980, and its rate per 1 million people. Though the data are just a rough indication (I made it in half an hour, and some data aren’t based on a reliable source), it’s obvious that the U.S. is a leading country of the sciences.
My field is not a pure natural science, but the situation is the same. More than half renowned international scholars and researchers are American, and the rest of those are German, British or French.
Compared to Japan, the U. S. is blessed with a nice research environment: (i) a vast number research institutes including colleges and universities, foundations and government circles, (ii) abundant research expenditure.
Another advantage is that the country holds major opportunities for presenting studies.
Primarily, a researcher is assessed by research papers appeared in academic journals. In my field, most authoritative journals are published in the U.S (of course, papers are judged by multinational referees).
Research themes are subdivided, and in general, each global research group is small enough to know each other. Thus, a conference is an important opportunity to recognize people and their research content. There are three international conferences I’d like to participate, and two of them are took place in the U.S. every year. The other is mainly held in North America.
Here's the part I complain to my predecessor about.
I see many Japanese at international conferences, but from my area of study, there is no one but me, this minor researcher. I asked a professor I know the other day if he'd like to participate in an international conference, but he was unwilling to.
What kind of tree do you like?
What do you want to plant in your garden?
I would say a willow tree.
This is because there was one in front of our former house moved from my grandfather’s home village in Niigata Prefecture (新潟県). The willow had been there before my family moved in from a different part of Azabu (麻布) and built it after the end of World War II.
The willow was a symbol of our house, and I feel I grew up with it. Though I don’t remember, my mother said that when I was several years old, she once tied me to the willow, like a dog, for a while because nothing could make me stop crying. (To her credit, she didn’t abuse me. My family ran a home-based business at that time, and I'm told my parent and employees were waiting to see until I stopped crying.)
Unfortunately, the willow was cut down when my father rebuilt the house.
What a shame.
The pictured above shows an existing willow holding many memories from my childhood. It’s on a private road of a temple in the neighborhood where I played with friends.
It shoots out buds in the spring, leafs, defoliates, goes dormant in the winter, and then comes back strong the following spring whether or not anyone is watching it.
Now, I have a special fondness for this willow.
Today’s post is about my favorite bar, K-ya (K家), in Kyoto.
This is “Tokyo Notebook”, but I’ve not written about Tokyo for some time…. Well, a period spanning May through September is the season for conferences and workshops, and I often go on a journey including a side trip. There are many stories from the road.
When my friend and I revisited this authentic bar on the night before a public holiday, almost all seats were taken. I asked for seats at the bar counter and waited at a table while drinking first cocktail, Frozen Margarita. It was really wonderful.
We moved to the counter, and then I ordered second cocktail: “Spicy Moscow Mule” at the top of original cocktail menu. It was really spicy because Laphroaig (Scotch whiskey) flavored with horseradish was dropped into Moscow Mule. Laphroaig itself has a strong flavor, and the horseradish added a refreshing smell to it.
When I visited this authentic bar in July, I didn’t have a typical cocktail (the previous post). So, I was greatly pleased that night.
An ice show, Carnival on Ice was held last night in the train of Japan Open 2010.
Mao Asada, Miki Ando, Daisuke Takahashi, Takahiko Kozuka, Evgeni Plushenko, Joannie Rochette, Cynthia Phaneuf, Adam Rippon, Julia Sebestyen, Sarah Meier, Michal Brezina, Shizuka Arakawa, Sasha Cohen, Jeffrey Buttle, Yuko Kawaguchi & Alexander Smirnov, Takeshi Honda, Cathy Reed & Chris Reed, and Yuzuru Hanyu
Though this isn’t a figure skating blog, I try to write about the events only seen in Japan when I actually watch them.
I could watch only the last third part of the TV program this evening, but I did watch a must-see part!
Yuko Kawaguchi & Alexander Smirnov
Also Sprach Zarathustra by R.Strauss
I’m always impressed with their performance at an ice show or exhibitions. They never ease up on the job. It was their new SP in this season. I hope they’ll perform well and get assessed fairly.
Sunglasses at Night by Corey Hart
He stood in the spotlight and skated wearing sunglasses. Super! I think he couldn't see anything. Though Canadians don’t know, he often appears ice shows in Japan and is a popular person.
Ave Maria by Franz Schubert
After winning the gold medal in the Olympics, she’s steadily made strides forward. She simply retired from competitive skating, and then she produces and directs a show and teachs younger people while being a professional figure skater. She still tries to keep her skating skills.
Amélie by Yann Tiersen
Though Takahashi looked like ‘petit Lambiel’ when I saw the program in June, he performed 'his Amélie' this time. His little movements were just like him, but he tried to present the world view that was transparent without a strong and popular theme which anyone could imagine easily. He said that the program is completely different from what he did until then and, for this reason, it’s worth pursuing. He also said that it’s meaningful when he doesn’t move.
Daisuke’s new SP, “Latin Mix“
He performed it as an encore! It was the must-see part. He didn’t fall short of expectations. The program’s going to be a center of attention this season. I’m sure you can vividly imagine how he mambos on the ice. That’s it! While he kept moving, the program finished as quick as a flash. I can’t wait NHK Trophy next month.
(Personaly, I think he needs to work on eveloping his LP.)
Ballade No.1 by Chopin
She got relaxed this time, and I could watch her with an easy mind because she performed this exhibition program many times. Beautiful sensitive skating.
A full version of this show will go on air the week after next. I have to see it.
Japan Open was an ISU’s official figure skating team competition in which invitational pro-am skaters representing their region (Japan, Europe and North America) performed their LP.
Japan: Mao Asada, Miki Ando, Daisuke Takahashi, Takahiko Kozuka
Europe: Sarah Meier, Julia Sebestyen, Evgeni Plushenko, Michal Brezina
North America: Joannie Rochette, Cynthia Phaneuf, Adam Rippon, Jeffrey Buttle
Shizuka Arakawa, Takeshi Honda, Cathy Reed & Chris Reed
A little while ago, I watched a recorded broadcast of the event, which was held this afternoon.
Unfortunately, it seemed that most of skaters came to the site with a lack of conditioning.
(in the performance order)
Buttle: Glenn Gould Medley by Glenn Gould
It should be hard for him to perform LP that was judged on a uniform basis because he retired from competitive skating at the end of 2007/2008 season. Good job. (128.39)
Brezina: An American in Paris by George Gershwin
He is going to continue to use the program though it’s rearranged. I think he’d better change his costume at the very least. Though I like it, I'm tired of watching his pink vest. (134.90)
Kozuka: Piano Concerto No.1 by Franz Liszt
Japan’s No.2 (!?) male skater is going to perform a classical and authentic LP this season. Though he couldn’t make a quad, nice try! (150.71)
Rippon: Piano Concerto No.2 by Sergei Rachmaninoff
He is fully ready to compete. His jumps including “Banzai 3Lz” were stable. Curious to say, I found that this 20-year-old skater looks somewhat alike my father. (166.63 personal-best score)
When his score was displayed, Joannie Rochette was wide-eyed with surprise. He was good, but….
Plushenko: Nijinsky by Edvin Marton
Plushenko’s Nijinsky. It was enough to make me happy. When he performed Bielmann Spin, I was afraid if he would hurt his muscles. (151.00)
Our Daisuke: Tango "NVIERNO PORTENO” by Astor Piazzolla
Well, I was looking forward to see his new program too much. The music and choreography (Camerlengo) are perfect for Daisuke, but I couldn’t stop comparing it to “Eye”. To tell the truth, his new one didn’t have much of a presence at the first viewing. I'm also a little worried that he might get into a rut because I felt he’s recycled his image of Eye - his new costume reminded me of Eye, too. Anyway, I’m sure that he’s going to evolve his program. (159.19)
Ando: Piano Concerto No.2 by Edvard Grieg
I think her new program is charming. She is almost ready to compete. Though she missed several jumps, her performance was good. Especially, movements of her arms were improved. I really didn’t like the way she swung her arms without grace. Just out of curiosity, she’d be better off stopping exaggerate facial expressions. (115.02)
Mao: Liebestraume by Franz Liszt
It was told from her face before the performance that her condition wasn’t good. Her expression of tension made the audience nervous. Then, she did poorly and couldn’t convey the program’s charming points. However, I don’t worry about her. She’s brushed up on all jumps and brought in a new coach, Mr. Nobuo Sato, just a month ago. She’ll be great. I’m just going to watch and wait. (92.44)
Rochette: Samson and Delilah by Saint-Saëns
It was best performance and fun to watch. Japan Open was only one competition in which she would take part this season. (122.71)
Just to let you know, Japanese team won. I don’t care about the results though.
The 2010/2011 figure skating season is just around the corner.
I hope all skaters will be well prepared and have nice season!