2013/12/29

With Gratitude.....

As you may easily imagine, I’ve had a lot of tea throughout the year. Sometimes I make tea for myself, and sometimes to share. In any cases, I have tea.

I tend to take that situation for granted, but I shouldn't. I shouldn’t forget that it is fortunate to be able to drink tea that I like. I can drink because I’m healthy, I live in peace, and the environment is still safe enough to grow tea etc.

I'm grateful to 2013, and hope peace, safety and health of body and mind will be with all of us in 2014.

tea field -T-

2013/12/26

Large Happiness Tea -obukucha-

Believe it or not…2014 is coming very soon.

As Christmas is very special for many, New Year’s day is very very special for Japanese. Especially in Kyoto, there is a special tea drunk on the special day. It is called “obuku-cha” that umeboshi (pickled plum) and kombu (sea vegetable) are simply added in a cup of green tea. It is because that we believe that umeboshi protects us from evil and illness and kombu is a symbol of happiness.
There are various views about the origin of the name. This is one of them.
In 951, when an epidemic raged and a lot of people were suffering, a priest named KUYA gave a tea with a pickled plum to the people in order to save them. It worked. The situation settled down. The Emperor then heard about it, having the tea later on. Since the Emperor had the tea, it came to be called “obuku-cha”, which means “the tea drunk by the Emperor”. Nowadays, we call the same, but use different Kanji character, which literally means “large happiness”.


Hope 2013 will be filled with happiness!


2013/12/19

Christmasy Wagashi

During Christmas time, we see a lot of western-style Christmas sweets mainly fancy cakes. But not only those.
 
Recently, even Christmassy Wagashi (traditional Japanese confectionery) can be seen. Wagashi is traditionally served with Matcha at tea ceremony, especially the types made of mochi(sticky rice), adzuki bean paste, and fruits, so originally it is far from Christmasy sweets. Yet, what is the Japanese confectionery’s principle?  it is to place an importance on “season”.
 
Now December is associated with Christmas even among Japanese. So, why not?
 
 

2013/12/13

What’s Your Christmas Dinner?

First of all, I have to tell you this is not about tea. Sorry. It is about Christmas and something else....:-)

It is rather commercialized, but we still celebrate Christmas. I am happy to enjoy Christmasy atmosphere here and there.

I assume that many countries have some traditional special Christmas foods including turkey, Christmas pudding, Stollen or whatever.

What do you think Japanese eat for Christmas dinner?? Since turkey is not available in general here, chicken is more chosen. Many, especially families with kids, like to have a special chicken, which is KFC. I’m not joking, chicken from Kentucky Fried Chicken. Around 70’s, KFC started advertising their chicken for Christmas, offering the set meals only for Christmas. They won! They succeeded in attracting Japanese. Unfortunately or not, this is not my case, though. When I was a kid, Mom usually roasted chicken at home because she didn’t like buying prepared food especially on such a special occasion. Therefore, I've never had KFC Christmas set meals till now.

BTW, we don’t call the founder “Colonel Sanders”. He is often called “Mister Kentucky” and liked by younger Japanese especially at this time of the year. Whatever it is, we enjoy Christmas!


Christmas illumination in Osaka -T-

2013/12/05

Washoku -Intangible Cultural Heritage list-

Washoku (traditional Japanese cuisine) has been added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list amid increasing its popularity throughout the world. Washoku is the accumulation of this eating culture over the last 15,000 years, being  well-balanced, full of seasonal colors, and simply cooked to bring out the true flavor of the ingredients. Especially, in Washoku it is important that the sense of the season be reflected in everyday meals, and this concept has long been in our food culture.

However, many Japanese especially younger generations do not pay enough attention to the values these days. As the society has become more globalized, our dietary habits have also globalized. We have more westernized food. I am not saying western food is not good. It is fine, but  sad for us to lose our food culture.


As its change, our tea culture has been changing. Green tea goes well with traditional Japanese food like less fat, more fresh veges with subtle flavor, and white rice. However, the westernized food, which is usually more fatty, is good with black tea in order to refresh your mouths. No wonder the green tea consumption has been decreasing. The more choices, the better. But we should keep our dietary culture too.
 
The Cultural History of Japanese Food
English translation by Tomo