Monday, April 27, 2015

a vegetarian couple came

Finally I could invite a Indian couple who are completely vegetarian (it means the wife cannot eat eggs.)
One years has passed since we (Yuki and I) became friends with them. We ate out together at an Indian restaurant, they invited us for tea and dinner. I could invite them for just tea. However I hadn't invited them to our house, because I didn't have confidence to cook something for them.
These days I found this perfect the stock for strict vegetarians. So I decided to cook something for them and invite them.
And I tried using spices as much as I could.
Channa beans curry, -- I made curry, however for them it was between curry and tomato soup. But anyway they seemed to be happy to have it.
Potato gratin with soy milk, --  it became their favorite. I used fresh rosemary to taste it.
Marinated kidney beans with fresh onion.
flash-cooked green leaves with Miso (made by soy beans) paste
Marinated NEGI (kind of green onion)
strawberry punch using soda and acerola juice instead of wine.
This winter they are going back to India. Because of their style, they have little chance to be invited to Japanese house (soy sauce is not their favorite either), it's sad. So I'm happy to have  welcomed them to our house, and have enjoyed dining.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


Utsunomiya city is about 100 km north from Tokyo, it takes about one hour by bullet train,it takes 2 and half hours by local train, and (though depends on where you go to and where you come from, and if you are not caught by traffic jam) it takes about 2 and half hours by car.

Since Yuki and I came here, more than 30 years have passed. (At that time bullet trains didn't run.)

Is Utsumoniya city is a city or a country side?

It's not a big city and it's not a country side. it's between of them. It's a provincial city which has the prefectural office. ( Does it make sense?)

For a long time my eyes were alwase watching Tokyo. So I often said "compared with Tokyo", now I sometimes hear another phrase "compared with America". It's not a bad thing to compare with some things. However if it leads you to a negative attitude, it's not so good.

Now I'm interesting, sometimes my younger daughter says "compared with Utsunomiya" -- for her to nurse kids seems to easy here than Tokyo ( Of course it includes another meaning, because here I can help here, but in Tokyo she has to do most of things by herself.)
And now I also say "compared with Utsumoniya".

The reason is  --- anyway in Tokyo I have to walk, walk, walk a lot and "climb up and down " lots of stairs in  stations.

So I found people in Tokyo are slender, and people in Utunomiya are healthy (I don't use the word **t).

I took Jan to an art museum near the Tokyo station -- of course by bullet train. And I asked her "do you know which women or ladies lives in Tokyo and who comes from another area?"
She asked "what does it mean?"

I answered ---
"Check their shoes. If (young) women wear low heals, most of them live in Tokyo, and if (young) women wear high heals to show them good, they come from another area."

Of course it doesn't suit to all young women.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Jan came -3

I had prepared some foods which are eaten in at least 4 days before Jan came.
I thought that we will go out so often, so I won't have enough time to cook.
She said they are like food for the Sabbath day. ( though I don't know the detail, some people who belong to a religious group, have a day not to cook once a week? )
The big difference is that the Sabbath day is only one day. So they eat all dishes which are prepared the day before on the day. We had to eat at least three times every day -- because I didn't cook enough.
I used the word "had to", it includes the feeling that it's leftover.
On the other hand, I don't think it's leftover. I just wan to eat them little by little each day.
Because they are kind of appetizer.
It's a kind of culture difference.
Additionally I also cooked a pot of curry. Yuki and I liked to eat it for two days, but when we eat it for three days, it means the curry of the last day is "leftover".
I hope you understand what I want to write.

Today I also cooked these dishes for our. So I don't need cook many things at once. They give my (mainly) lunch and dinner more colors and appetizer, though I "have to " or "can" eat these food until this weekend.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Jan came --2

Utsunomiya is in Tochigi prefecture which have a famous world heritage sight "Toshougu shrines and temples". So if the guest interests to the big, famous and traditional shrines or temples, I take them there.
But if the guest interests an old traditional house, I take here.
This roof is made by straw, and it's 250 years old. The most interesting thing is that it has been used -- it is preserved as a gallery.
This house is big, because it was the house of the headman of this area. About 250 years ago which means in Edo era, the headman was a landlord and farmers were hired, so farmers were used to be poor. But now most farmers have their own land, so they are landlords and farmers, it means Japanese farmers are not so poor, though their work has been tough since ancient period.

This fireplace has been used now. The smoke helps protecting against bugs in the straw roof.

As I said this house is used as a gallery.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Jan came -1-

Finally Jan came from America by herself. She stayed with us for about 5 days here in Utsunomiya.
She is in her 70's. We were really surprised at her power!!!!
Anyway I organized a soft schedule for her.

First I wanted to show Japanese cherry blossoms. The season is almost finished, however, we could see some fully cherry blossoms.
We have this part many cherry blossoms are planted along a road.


We took cherry blossoms shower.
She looked happy to see cherry blossoms fully blooming. She loves flowers.
So probably she would be as happy as seeing full of roses or azaleas in Japan. Actually in May we have some beautiful rose gardens.
On the other hand Japanese people have a special feeling on cheery blossoms, which is sometimes described " nostalgia". It's difficult to explaining this feeling in another language. I know some of the reasons. One reason is it comes from the short period of blooming. Usually 7 days. Another reason is probably the soft color. (However we have various kinds of cherry blossoms, some one has think pink.)
And next I took her a western style restaurant. If it is the first visit for foreign guests and they seem to like Japanese food, you should take them to a Japanese restaurant. However they just want to enjoy lunch, I recommend to take them to a western style restaurant. Usually at most of western style restaurant they serve Japanalize --- ( I hope this word makes sense) western dishes.
Can you guess how this black sauce is made?
It's black sesame dressing sauce without oil. She shows curiosity, and she could eat it up.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Mountain cherry blossoms

It is a big mountain cherry blossom tree.

They are usually cherry blossom trees.
Borh of them are fully in bloom.
Do you understand the difference of two situations in bloom.

Usually cherry blossoms first put flowers and next the leaves starts to come out.
So we see perfect pink trees when they are fully in bloom.

When we see leaves and flowers, it means it starts to fall.

Last Saturday Yuki and I went to see SYOUGUN cherry bloosoms, but what we saw was a tree with flowers and leaves. So we thought we were to late to enjoy it in bloom. However it was wrong. Coinedently a man who is familier with nature was there, he said " You are lucky, today this tree is fully in bloom." and he said " This is a mountain cherry blossom tree, so it starts flowers and leaves."

If he weren"t there, we would have felt the day as an unlucky day, but we were very happy to see full of the mountain cheery blossom tree.
And on the way back home, we also see full of usual cherry blossom trees.

Well this week, our important friend Jan come to stay with us. I may not have time to update this blog, but if I have, I try to update via my i-pone.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

I found a perfect poem.

Do you know AIDA-MITSUO? He is a very very popular poet.
Coincidentally I read this book after so long.

I found this poem.

Just Being There

Just being there
You brighten the space around you

Just being there
You warm the hearts of those who know you

Just being there
You so softly bring peace of mind to others

It is the person you are
That I long to become

It might to be difficult to make the last sentence real, however, this poem suits to my grandchild "Akari".

While she come to stay with us, she often cries. It makes us annoyed. But once she left here, we always remind her smiling face.

In May, she will come  --- and after she leave here again, I will remain this poem again.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

It's in April, isn't it?


When I got up, roofs were covered with snow. And --- it has been snowing.
Today, it is the first day for junior high school students to go to school. How poor they are!!!

Finally I finished reading this book  Yuki and I try to lessen the numbers of books in our book shelves.
Some books are not read by two of us. This is one of them.
The title is "Japanese faith" (or the religious devotion, but this word sounds strong.)

To tell the truth, this book was very difficult for me, so I just scanned most of pages.
This book is not written about religion like Buddhism, and Shinto.
Japanese faith comes from rice culture. Rice is gotten under marvelous nature system with ground, enough water and four seasons. We can be alive only rice. So our faith of root is nature.
On the other hand  under bread culture, it's difficult to get enough wheat, so they need meat , it means hunting is necessary. The attitude of hunting means to persuade something, to seek something, so their faith of root is one strong God.
This is the contents I understood.
It was interesting.
It is still snowing.  In the afternoon my lesson starts.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015


Last Sunday I went out to a "Marche". I don't know the word of "Marche" is familiar or not.
These days here and there Marche is hold, where many shops who don't have their own real shops or they want to advertise their shops are temporary open in an each tent.

Well, we have another style which called "YATAI". They have the same style, at festivals many tents where mainly foods are sold  are temporary open, the people who held the tents are called "tekiya", they move from one place to another place to look for festivals.

Additionally when I was a young mother, "flea market" used to be popular. There mainly families or friends groups held a temporary store. I used to open our stores to sell children's good which we didn't need  with my family and my freinds' families.

The Marche I went to was a little bit different from usual Marche.
Usually Marche is crowded with young people, the main reasons is that the owner of each temporary store is  young and energetic to sell and advertise their shop. And they are proud of their things so the products and foods are not so inexpensive. So for senior people Marche is not so interesting place.
But yesterday's Marche was different.
Because it was hold at a day-care- center which is a kind of senior center.
Sometimes  center festivals are held like a school festival, but it was Marche.
Some attractive shops which are very popular with young people attended it.
On the other hand some volunteer groups in the local area attend it.
And a junior high school joined as staff.So from children to seniors enjoyed the Marche easily.

Even though we had a little bit rain, we enjoyed seeing a big cherry blossom tree.
We could eat delicious foods. I ate curry and rice served by a popular Indian restaurant. On the other hand we could eat two-rice ball for 100 yen which were served by a volunteer group.

These days I try not to buy things which decorate the rooms, I try to keep simple rooms. But it's difficult without buying something to enjoy such Marche.
I knew that a popular craft-woman was in the Marche, so I bought this thing and decorate the "outside" the entrance.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms season has come even in Utsunomiya. The period we enjoy the blossoms is just one week. This "early morning" Yuki and I went to see them to a park which is famous with beautiful cherry blossoms scenery.

It was about 6:30. Some people were doing "traditional" exercise with radio.

I found an interesting site about the exercise which is called "radio TAISOU".

This season the parking lot of the park is very crowded, but it was the early morning, so we could park our car easily. And I found this sign on the wall of the parking lot. We had a bitter smile.
Do you know what it means?