This is a quick post to share a couple of very short videos of my family’s Japanese New Year. The first video shows “Daifuku” or “Anko Mochi” being made. The second video is a brief clip of “Sukiyaki” being cooked by my father in-law. It’s been a bit hectic here with all the preparations, cleaning, cooking, etc. I will be writing a Year’s Retrospective post in the coming days. Let me wish you all a very HAPPY NEW YEAR 2023. Thank you for all your support this year. よいお年を！(Yoi o toshi o!)
Thanks so much for reading! You really are Amazing!
In Japan, most people change their car tires in winter. They call them “studless” tires or “snow” tires. A lot of husbands take on this challenge themselves, probably “encouraged” by their wives. Other saner people drive to the local “gasoline stand-o” and pay a professional to do it. I’m one of the “encouraged” people and take on the job of replacing 8 tires twice a year. It’s one of those jobs that you keep wanting to put off until the weather is just right, you know, forever next weekend.
This year, the first snow to fall in the city came before I’d changed my tires. So I had to drive to work this morning in the snow with my regular tires still on. My wife was panicking a bit, giving me a shovel as well as the number for a taxi in case I got stuck. I was all bravado, “it’ll be fine!” But secretly hoping everything would be okay. I set off 30 minutes earlier than usual and guess what? Everything was fine! I took it easy and drove safely and arrived at work unscathed. To be honest, I didn’t feel any difference between the fabled studless tires and the regular ones. Hang on a minute. Is it really a clever con by tire companies and gas stations?…. “NO!” everyone in Japan screams. You gotta trust the science, right?..
Anyway, I’ll stop boring you with my tire-d story and share these pictures with you. It wasn’t a BIG snowfall. That usually hits around New Year. But this was the scene this morning around one of the public schools I work at.
I went to my first comic convention in Tokyo last weekend where I was working for an artist friend called The Jinja Ninja. It was a very busy Saturday and Sunday and my friend had a successful convention. He received an impressive number of commissions and was delighted with the whole experience. He also worked his ass off. I assissted as best as I could and tried to take some photos and videos of the Con. Unfortunately I didn’t take enough.I wish I’d taken more.
Here is a short video I took at the Comic Con. You will get a brief glimpse at some of the very impressive cosplay, as well as a few of the artists including Peach Momoko, Geof Darrow, Ed Pikor, Alex Sinclair, and The Jinja Ninja. I hope you enjoy it.
I took the video on my Sony Xperia smartphone so the quality isn’t the best.
I woke up to this sunrise. Typhoon 11 is approaching. That’s right, Japan doesn’t give typhoons impressive names, only a number. Boring! It’s due to hit around noon. I think we will be lucky because we are only catching the edges of it. Korea is getting the brunt of it.
After a three-year break due to the “virus of unknown origin,” the summer fireworks festival returned last Sunday. I was delighted to be given front-row tickets by a family friend. My daughter was back from Kyoto for the summer holidays so we all went down to the local harbor together to enjoy the show. It was a lovely night, a little cooler than it has been and fairly windy. Fortunately the wind was blowing away from us.
The hanabi show began at 8pm and went on for 45 minutes. That seems to be the norm in Japan. I’m so glad they decided to stop playing music during the show a few years back. It’s so unnecessary and spoils the natural atmosphere in my opinion. But maybe I’m old fashioned? I’d much rather hear the BOOM of the fireworks and the spectators’ “oohs” and “aahs”, especially the childrens’ voices. Do they play music at the firework displays where you live?
There were a mixture of single big fireworks and choreographed clusters, as well as attempted shapes such as hearts, rabbits, smiley faces and characters. The town where I live is only small so it isn’t one of the more famous Japanese Hanabi displays. You can find more information about those here.
Here is a short video I took with my smartphone. It’s from the last five minutes of the show. Please enjoy.
I went to see the new ONE PIECE movie on Monday, One Piece Film Red to give it its full title. I was excited to watch it on the big screen. I was also making the most of something pretty rare over here: an early release for a movie in Japan! Well, it is a Japanese movie so I guess there are no surprises there. We usually have to wait weeks if not months for the majority of movies from other shores.
So how was it? Well, it was bright, colourful and very very musical. In fact I thought it was a musical as it features seven songs by the young Japanese singer Ado. It felt like a series of music videos set in the One Piece universe. The songs are performed by new character “Uta” which means “song” in Japanese. Here’s the brief synopsis of the film:
“Uta is a beloved singer, renowned for concealing her own identity when performing. Her voice is described as “otherworldly.” Now, for the first time ever, Uta will reveal herself to the world at a live concert.”
So the movie is basically the One Piece characters watching Uta’s LIVE Concert, which leads to some backstory about the new character and some rather confusing battles. The animation uses a mixture of traditional 2D and CGI, especially during the musical numbers. The effect verges on psychedelic at times. Ironically mushrooms play an important part in the story, but no spoilers here.
I’ve recently got hooked on a hidden gem of a TV series. It’s a Japanese slice of life drama called ‘Shinya Shokudo’ which translates as Midnight Diner. It started in 2009 and five seasons have been made so far, with Seasons 4 and 5 having a slightly different title: Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories. These recent seasons were produced by Netflix and this is where you can find the show. But be careful because it’s easy to start watching from Season 4 and completely miss the first three seasons.
Midnight Diner is about a tiny Japanese restaurant in Shinjuku, Tokyo that is open from midnight to 7 a.m. It’s run by a man who everyone calls “Master”. He has a very limited menu with only one dish, a kind of pork stew, and three drinks: beer, sake and shochu. But he will prepare any dish the customer requests, so long as he has the ingredients. The customers order the kinds of dishes that you don’t usually get at a typical Japanese restaurant. They are often comfort foods more commonly prepared at home. Each dish has a special meaning to the customer and we usually learn the customer’s story during the episode.
My first trip in 2 years, it felt so refreshing to travel again. 🙂 You can see Osaka Castle in the distance. The cherry blossoms are blooming at their peak here. It’s been 20 years but they still blow my mind. After walking round the castle grounds, we ate some delicious Korean food in the city. Then we took a train to Kyoto for shopping and dinner in a craft beer bar. It’s wonderful to meet up with my daughter! ❤️
Thanks for reading!
Wakizashi- *Hey Mister Blue Sky, why did you have to hide away for so long?*
It’s traditional in Japan to make mochi for New Year. I want to share this very short video with you. It’s my family making anko mochi. We use a special kind of rice called mochigome, which translates as mochi-rice. The anko is made from sweet red bean paste. You put it in the center of the mochi and roll it all into a ball.
The anko mochi are delicious. But take care not to eat too many. You might get stomach ache like me 🤣
Thank you for reading. I wish you all a very Happy New Year and all the very best for 2022!
-Wakizashi, *enjoying a wee dram of Scotch whiskey from Islay*
It’s December 26th as I type this. I hope you all are having a very Merry Christmas wherever you may be. Last night, Mrs. Teahouse and I went to her parents’ house for a very memorable Christmas dinner. I posted a “Short” video about it on my YouTube channel. It was a wonderful meal, the first time I have enjoyed this particular dish in a while. Please let me know what you think. And share what you enjoyed for your festive dinner or lunch. 👺
Coming from the UK, I’m not used to the unique experience of eating crab. There’s definitely a skill to how you go about it. I think this was my most successful attempt so far, and there have only been a few. Even Mrs. Teahouse’s father was impressed; almost. 🤣
Peace be upon us all!
-Wakizashi, *up early listening to the hail hammer the windows*