The Goblin of Adachigahara (1908) translated by Yei Theodora Ozaki

This story is taken from a collection of Japanese fairy tales translated by Yei Theodora Ozaki and published in America in 1908. In the book’s introduction, Ozaki writes:

“These stories are not literal translations, and though the Japanese story and all quaint Japanese expressions have been faithfully preserved, they have been told more with the view to interest young readers of the West than the technical student of folk-lore.”

Here is the opening paragraph of the story:

Long, long ago there was a large plain called Adachigahara, in the province of Mutsu in Japan. This place was said to be haunted by a cannibal goblin who took the form of an old woman. From time to time many travelers disappeared and were never heard of more, and the old women round the charcoal braziers in the evenings, and the girls washing the household rice at the wells in the mornings, whispered dreadful stories of how the missing folk had been lured to the goblin’s cottage and devoured, for the goblin lived only on human flesh. No one dared to venture near the haunted spot after sunset, and all those who could, avoided it in the daytime, and travelers were warned of the dreaded place.

The Goblin of Adachigahara

Source: Ozaki, Y.T. (1908). Japanese Fairy Tales. New York: A.L.Burt Company.

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Typhoon Morning

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.

Return of the Summer Hanabi (Fireworks)

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.

My short highlights video of the Japanese Hanabi Festival in Yonago, Japan 2022

Thanks so much for reading!

-Wakizashi, *back to work from today*

ONE PIECE FILM RED (2022)

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.

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Midnight Diner is Food for the SOUL!

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.

“Master” played by Kaoru Kobayashi

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.

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Kyoto 2022

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?*

Kaiju No. 8, Vol. 1 (2021) by Naoya Matsumoto

Synopsis

Kafka hopes to one day keep his pact with his childhood friend Mina to join the Japan Defense Force and fight by her side. But while she’s out neutralizing kaiju as Third Division captain, Kafka is stuck cleaning up the aftermath of her battles. When a sudden rule change makes Kafka eligible for the Defense Force, he decides to try out for the squad once more. There’s just one problem—he’s made the Defense Force’s neutralization list under the code name Kaiju No. 8.


My Review

This was a recommendation from Ola over at Re-enchantment of the World. I’m really glad I ordered a copy because this manga was so much fun to read. Remember fun? Well, this book is filled with it. It also has some great kaiju art and some kinetic action scenes.

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Making Mochi at New Year

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*

Christmas Dinner in Japan

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. 👺

A very short glimpse of our Christmas “Kani Party”

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*

Tokyo Godfathers (2003) Directed by Satoshi Kon

I watched this Japanese animated movie last night and really enjoyed it. I was looking for a “Christmas movie” to watch and chose this because it takes place over Christmas and New Year. It was directed by Satoshi Kon, who is probably better known for his 1997 animated psychological thriller Perfect Blue. He also made Paprika (2006), another memorable animated movie that some say Christopher Nolan “borrowed” from for Inception (2008). I recommend them both. In researching the film, I learned that Satoshi Kon died of pancreatic cancer in 2010. He was only 46 years old.

Tokyo Godfathers tells the story of three homeless people and their experiences after finding an abandoned baby during one cold winter in Tokyo. Gin (pron. with a hard “g”) is a middle-aged man who has had problems with gambling in the past. Haru is a gay man who used to work in a Tokyo nightclub. Midori is a teenage girl who left home after fighting with her father. They exist as a kind of “pseudo-family” doing their best to survive on the streets of Tokyo. They are each believable characters who made me care about their stories.

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